September 15th, 2010
08:05 AM ET

Pastor: I'll get a tattoo if 200 people show up

Two weeks ago, 26-year-old Pastor Kyle Bonenberger threw down the gauntlet with his flock. September 12th, 2010 marked City Church in Anahiem's one year anniversary.

Bonenberger told his church, if attendance doubled and 200 people showed up to their "birthday bash," he and another parishioner would get tattoos of the church's logo. And he invited others to join them. "It’s my way of showing my commitment to Christ and from that comes my commitment to give back to the community," the young pastor said.

“I’ve done altar calls and nothing happened. This is the most successful thing we've ever done," he said. Ten parishioners signed up to get inked.

The church is loosely affiliated with the Reformed Church in America.  It has about 85 regular attenders and for the past year has met at a local punk rock club, Chain Reaction. "The owners let us meet there for free because nothing else was going on Sunday mornings. For us it’s great because it comes fully loaded with lights and a sound system. It breaks a barrier for people who would never walk into a church. It breaks that wall down," he said.

On Sunday, congregants and visitors trickled in to the punk rock club. The service was about 75% complete when the attendance ticked from 199 to 200.

“It’s still a little bit sore,” Bonenberger said on Tuesday about his freshly tattooed forearm.  He and five others were able to get their tattoos on Sunday before the tattoo artist had to leave.  The other six congregants are getting appointments to get their tattoos.

The logo means a lot to Bonenberger because a friend came up with the design for the church's website about a year ago.  "It's a ghosted cross with a heart in the middle."  He said when he first laid eyes on it he knew he had to get it as a tattoo.

Editor's Note: You can see more from the event and follow Bonenberger on twitter @kylesteven and @lovehopecity. While you're at it, follow us for all the latest @CNNBelief.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Art • California • Christianity • United States

soundoff (109 Responses)
  1. Tms

    @David Johnson I am not here to judge. I have been taught to show love. Maybe I should have ref. Colossians 3. This was what I was taught to live by my parents. I do believe they many won't make it to heaven because its such a narrow walk. We should seek a personal relationship with God and he will lead us in the way we should go.

    September 16, 2010 at 8:50 pm |
  2. NL

    Hmmm... Would that mark be on his right forearm?

    "Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or on the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name.
    – Rev. 13:16–17 (RSV)"

    September 16, 2010 at 2:36 pm |
  3. adams

    i like the bleach spot in his hair. that was for 50 people showing up.

    September 16, 2010 at 12:25 pm |
  4. JDW

    GLaDOS wept. Well, one of her memory cores did at any rate.

    Now the real question is whether or not he's resistant to temperatures of up to 3,000 degrees Kelvin.

    September 16, 2010 at 12:16 pm |
  5. Betty

    That is totally the companion cube heart from portal. Heh, but he thinks he's sportin' an original design 😛

    September 16, 2010 at 12:10 pm |
  6. David Johnson

    If I get 200 people in my church, I will be circ umcised right on this pool table!

    September 16, 2010 at 11:54 am |
  7. jerry

    you know its funny if this man was preaching that without christ is eternal damnation and you jesus every one would call him a heratic but because he is doing this gimic everyone is on his side qamazinf eh

    September 16, 2010 at 10:11 am |
  8. Cautionary Tale

    Maybe the pastor should have offered to buy himself a new hat if 200 people threw up instead of what he just did.
    Or maybe he should have done one of those "Kung Fu" tattoos by grabbing a red-hot cooking pot with his forearms. That would have been pretty cool.

    September 16, 2010 at 7:34 am |
    • NL

      Maybe a red hot cross, like a branding iron? The smell would bother some people, but God would probably like the smoke it produced.

      September 16, 2010 at 8:37 am |
  9. Carla

    So David, "U THINK UR PERFECT? Nor Sinner?" or this is all about u trying to get attention!! This is n act of Love towards God, everyone could take it as they wish, unless u know Pastor Kyle, then u wouldn't have the reason to speak...

    September 16, 2010 at 1:21 am |
    • David Johnson

      Yes Carla, I am without sin.

      September 16, 2010 at 9:49 am |
    • Tz2u

      @David Johnson

      You heard what the man said...now CAST THAT FIRST STONE!

      September 16, 2010 at 9:57 am |
  10. Sam

    So Eric, do you serve the poor and minister to the needy in this church?
    Gotta wonder... why do people continue to use God's word to back up whatever they want to do. I guess that fornication and adultry are ok too, since we have a new covenant and God is all about LOVE and acceptance. Stealing must be alright too because its in the "OLD Testament, and since Jesus came to fullfill the law then I guess we can thow out coveting your neighbor's stuff. In fact.. just helping an old lady cross the street should actually be how you get to heave! Let's forget about the whole making Jesus your savior or getting to the fact that HE died for you. The New Revolution church would really like to just throw out the book, spen the service getting tatoo's and hey.. since your at a bar.. how about you change some water into wine and party on dude!! Im sure that's what God wanted out of all this when He made the Garden of Eden. So everybody go get a tatoo that screams who you are, help an old lady cross the street on your way to the club, party like it's 2010 and call it a day.. wow.. what an AWESOME God we serve! Remember this "One day EVERY KNEE shall bow and EVERY tongue confess that JESUS is LORD! your tattoos or lack of will have NOTHING to do with ANYTHING on that day.. so.. are YOU ready?

    September 16, 2010 at 12:25 am |
    • David Johnson


      Jesus said he would be back in the 1st Century. He is 19 centuries late. People are leaving the Christian religion. If Christianity is to survive, it will need to appeal to the youth.

      September 16, 2010 at 9:47 am |
  11. David Johnson

    I think a girl that does the hula when you flex your bicep is cooler.

    September 15, 2010 at 10:22 pm |
  12. Frank

    I am very much not a Christian but I love the tattoo design.

    September 15, 2010 at 9:24 pm |
  13. jen

    As I read the comments, I see now why I don't go to church. When you hear or read anything about religion people become nasty. Are you this mans God to judge him? NO! As you so called holy rollers are the most judgemental people. YOU ARE NOT THIS MANS GOD SO STOP JUDGING HIM!

    September 15, 2010 at 8:58 pm |
    • jerry

      @jen accually the bible does talk about judgeing people its talks about judging peiople by there actions and the way the way they live there lives as christians and that is true we arwe mnot this mans god b ut we are judging him by his fruits

      September 15, 2010 at 9:17 pm |
    • David Johnson

      I am fundie, hear me roar! If I do not judge this man, who will?

      I have committed the entire bible to memory! I stand waiting to be whisked away in the rapture!

      I can spot a sin at 50 paces!

      September 15, 2010 at 10:26 pm |
    • Alan of Westport


      you saw his fruits? gross.

      September 15, 2010 at 11:00 pm |
    • NL

      But what if you don't believe in any gods that will judge him? Can we judge him then? Let's have a go.

      Young, social craving male wants to impress larger group of peers by getting a tattoo. There, see, I judge him as just being like every other guy his age out there looking to get inked. He's doing it to fit in and be more popular.

      A little more, perhaps, he's doing it to further his chances in his business (preaching). That makes him a little disingenuous to his followers who think he is getting a tattoo for the same reasons they would.

      September 16, 2010 at 8:49 am |
  14. Faisal

    "religion" is mans attempt to control hate, instead of trust love. (and the cunning lies and deception associated), was originally born of a corrupt womans mind, in a foolish attempt to eliminate the need of man, *expressed, and carried out* through foolish men *who follow the desires & path of their own demise.* thus attributing the cause of the inevitable death as a result, to both parties of the divided house built on the union of destruction. proving that "a house divided against itself cannot stand" (Luke 11:17), Spoken of by Jesus Christ (the one you love to hate. and crucify). Jesus was against religion.

    September 15, 2010 at 8:57 pm |
  15. Tms

    Act 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given by men, whereby we must be saved. KJV

    September 15, 2010 at 8:47 pm |
    • David Johnson


      You quoted, "Act 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given by men, whereby we must be saved. KJV"

      The followers of Islam believe they will go to heaven. They don't think Christians will. They think Christians are infidels.

      What proof do you have that you are right and they are wrong?

      September 16, 2010 at 9:57 am |
  16. Eric

    Im part of this church. It seems kind of strange that this made the news...kindof weird to make the news for something thats really more trivial instead of serving the poor, ministering to the needy, but i guess thats journalism for you.

    September 15, 2010 at 7:51 pm |
  17. HotAirAce

    Just another example of how the charlatans of any faith will stoop to any pitch to bring in the next victim. As has been attributed to other show people/entertainers, "There's a sucker born every minute!" As the pastor, and hisflock, appear to be fairly young, I was going to add something like "Give us your young children and they will be ours forever." which I thought was something the RCC utterred, but I was not able to find an attribution... In any event, it wasn't meant to be a positive comment... As always, and until clear evidence to the contrary shows up, or until the government becomes a theocracy – THERE ARE NO GODS, NOT EVENT JUST 1!!!

    September 15, 2010 at 4:09 pm |
  18. Carla

    He never came on the news saying, come to my Church!! I am trying to reach an amount of 200 ppl in my church, so I may get a tattoo. This article came out after, the happening... He told us, "his congregation", bring a friend, by that he meant, bring someone that needs God n their Life, so we did. God gathered those 200 ppl!!! I don't know were ppl, start talking out of!! Without knowing, what's really going on n this world, how he tries to get to teens n his community, which he has accomplished a lot. Pastor Kyle, brings us together with his beautiful Sermons, not by judging ppl, the way u guys are. God also said n the Bible "I AM THE ONE TO JUDGE"... Pastor Kyle u rock!! "Love Ur Preaching, n ur Highlights" 🙂

    September 15, 2010 at 2:36 pm |
    • Richard

      Amen Carla. Much love.

      September 16, 2010 at 3:32 pm |
  19. RS

    Be nice if the author of the article could spell Anaheim correctly.

    September 15, 2010 at 1:25 pm |
  20. Yeah

    Take that, everybody! Nyahh!

    September 15, 2010 at 1:12 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.