Tom & Jill Severson

An Iowa native, Tom came to Elgin about the time he began following Christ — during his middle school years. His parents had become believers, and seeing the real difference Jesus was making in their lives, he says, softened his young agnostic heart. He soon committed his own life to Christ, too.

Tom holds a degree from Judson College, but an InterVarsity Bible study at Elgin Community College was even more life-changing — that’s where he met Jill. Married in 1983, they have seven adult kids and six grandchildren.

In 1995, Tom set aside a successful sales career when asked to pastor this congregation. He has a gift for preaching the Word and puts a high priority on prayer, worship and the presence of God. His passion is to see the Church being the Church—not just on Sunday mornings, but every day, as a true, knit-together family with a heart for the lost, a heart for the poor, and a deep hunger for God’s presence. Tom’s heart beats for the oppressed and for seeing people set free from bondage to sin.

For 15 years he served Vineyard Midwest North Region as an Area Pastor, coaching and encouraging eight other senior pastors. He enjoys praying regularly with the leaders of other churches in the Elgin community.

In his free time, Tom can often be found reading (favorite authors are Charles Spurgeon and Charles Price), biking with Jill, and spending time with their family.

Turning point

In 2001, a man asked Tom for prayer; while Tom was praying for him, the man suddenly produced a knife and slashed Tom’s throat. Miraculously, the weapon missed the major blood vessels, but there was plenty of damage. As he was bleeding out, Tom had a unique encounter with Jesus that changed his perspective on life. He recounts the story in a 15th anniversary sermon in 2016. Tom and his son Lane also tell what happened in a short, impactful book they wrote together, Who Holds the Knife.

In this video, Tom tells the story again, focusing on how God addressed his emotional and spiritual needs as much as his physical condition. He relates how the Father brought healing to his broken heart, restored his trust, and gave him courage to get back up again and preach with confidence that God is good. More than two decades later, this event continues to influence who Tom is, how he leads and how he loves.