On a quiet rainy Wednesday in downtown Kalispell, a long line stretches outside of the Liberty Theater. The sights and sounds are those of a rock concert, a rock concert with a Christian message.
?This is the best church I?ve ever been to,? said Kalispell resident Austin Landis.
He?s talking about Skull Church, put on by Fresh Life Church in Kalispell. The once-a-month event opens the door of religion to some who feel they don?t belong in other places.
?They don?t see you and just say, ?Oh that person?s covered in tats, or they got a mohawk. They?re going to be a bad person.? Everybody?s accepting about everybody,? said Landis.
The come-as-you-are approach to worship has resonated with many, some in deeper ways.
?I was going down a really dark path,? said security guard Shawn Johnson.
Johnson says he almost lost his family to drugs and alcohol until he started going to Skull Church.
?The joy that I feel, it just never gets old because I know how I was and how I felt and the change,? said Johnson. ?And I?m talking, it has changed my entire family.?
What started out as an idea just a few years ago has grown into a large following. Case in point: the Good Friday service at the Majestic Valley Arena last month drew thousands from all over Montana.
Fresh Life leaders have started taking Skull Church on the road to reach a wider audience. An event was held last year in Missoula, and now there are plans for Bozeman and Billings. With the increased exposure though, comes increased scrutiny and skepticism.
?I bet you when people see the skull for the first time, they?re usually wondering, at what point in the service we?ll do animal sacrifices,? said Pastor Levi Lusko.
Some have questioned the gatherings, and it?s been suggested that the church is more cult than Christian, especially with the logo.
?We?re taking a symbol off board shorts, off of skateboards and we?re putting it into a context that maybe catches people off guard,? said Lusko.
Lusko says the skull is a reference to where Jesus died, on a skull-shaped hill outside of Jerusalem. It?s meant to be a conversation starter, which he hopes leads to people walking through doors at services and streaming the services online.
?We?re just trying to relate God?s word in the way that we understand it to our generation,? said Lusko.
The approach may be different and unorthodox, but for many, the message of inclusion and acceptance is one they say they?ve been waiting to hear.
Skull Church is set to take over the Babcock Theater in Billings on July 7 and 8, with dates in Bozeman still to be announced.