Tommy Kyllonen, also known as Urban D. (Disciple) to his music fans, founded the youth ministry at Tampa, Fla.-based Crossover Community Church in 1996. Starting with just four teens, he and his wife developed a first-of-its-kind Hip-Hop Youth Ministry which over the span of six years grew to 200, far outpacing attendance in the main Sunday worship. In January 2002, Tommy became the lead pastor at Crossover and a new vision was birthed to specifically reach the Hip-Hop Culture.
Crossover Community Church became Purpose-Driven in their structure and began to truly engage the culture in their community. Tommy carefully incorporated music, dance, visual arts, media and relevant messages into the worship context and campus without compromising the truth of God’s word. The ministry has seen incredible growth as Crossover’s weekend attendance jumped from 40 to over 400 in less than four years. The youth services reach hundreds more as the church campus has become a haven for the community youth.
Tommy also pioneered an annual Hip-Hop/urban ministries conference called Fla.vor Fest. The event, now in its seventh year, has attracted thousands of pastors, youth pastors, lay leaders and artists from around the world to the musical festival and conference to fellowship, network and get equipped to better reach this culture. Due to the momentum of the three-day conference, The INSP Network filmed the event and concerts and has released two double-disc DVD sets that are available in Christian stores nationwide. Tommy also hosts the “Fla.vor Fest Hip-Hop Series” TV show on INSP that reaches 48 million homes in the U.S.
Tommy, a.k.a. Urban D., has recorded five solo Hip-Hop albums since 1996 and has traveled across the U.S., Germany, Japan and England performing and speaking at conferences. He is also part of Crossover’s own “Fla.vor Alliance” that has collectively released more than 20 albums in the past seven years. His music showcases a variety of east coast flavor with his trademark Mediterranean/Latin influence.
His latest project covers print, music and film with “Un.orthodox – church.hip-hop.culture” as a book published by Zondervan and a CD/DVD distributed through EMI. The book serves as a great resource for church leaders, parents, and hip-hop fans that want to better learn to engage the culture. The CD features new innovative Christ-centered hip-hop and the DVD is a full-length documentary on Crossover’s un.orthodox story along with Urban D.’s new music video.
In addition to his role as pastor and artist, Tommy’s perspective as a Christian leader and pioneer in reaching the Hip-Hop culture has led him to be a featured speaker at more than 50 church leadership, youth and worship conferences and workshops. Most recently, this included the Purpose-Driven Church and Purpose-Driven Worship conferences, Compassion Works, National Religion Writers Conference, Youth Specialties, Urban Youth Workers Institute, 4 Square Next Generation conference, Florida Baptist Association and Midwest Missionary Baptist youth conferences, the Holy Hip-Hop Awards and GMA Week, where he chairs the GMA Urban Taskforce.
Tommy is also a frequent writer, authoring articles for Relevant Leader and The American Bible Society. He is the publisher of S.O.U.LMag, a publication of Crossover Community Church and Fla.vor Fest, and contributed to several books including the Relevant Church Book and Relevant Nation, and penning chapter introductions and articles for the popular REAL Biblezine.
Tommy and his wife and ministry partner, Lucy, have two beautiful children. A native of Philadelphia, Tommy now calls Tampa, Fla. home.