Our leadership team recognizes the authority of God, and realizes that we are shepherds who serve under the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ. We desire to devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word. Our passion and goal is to equip the believers for the work of the ministry until we all attain maturity in the fullness of Christ.


Tom was raised in the United Brethren Church in Pennsylvania, and was greatly influenced by the lives of his godly parents, but it was while he was a student in his second year of college that he began to get serious with God. 
Five years later, while attending Lincoln First Church of the Nazarene, he surrendered his will and made a commitment to do whatever God would ask him to do.  It was in that same year, 1975, he began to sense God calling him into the ministry. Tom was issued his first Local Ministers License in 1975, his first District Ministers License in 1976, and was ordained in 1983. 
After entering the full-time ministry, he has served two congregations, 3 years as youth pastor at York, Nebraska., and then 32 ½ years as senior pastor in the church God called him to plant in Fremont, Nebraska. Tom attended Central College in McPherson, Kansas, graduating with an Associate in Arts degree in 1970.  After his call to be a pastor, he attended Nazarene Bible College in Colorado Springs, Colorado, graduating with an associate degree in biblical studies in 1982.  In 1989, he attended Grace University in Omaha, Nebraska, receiving a bachelor’s degree in biblical studies and a minor in human resource management.   
During his ministry, he served on a number of committees, both for the General Church and the Nebraska District, as well as serving as District Secretary both for Nebraska and the Prairie Lakes District. Tom also served for 8 years as a Trustee for Nazarene Bible College. Over the past three years, he has been serving as Interim Pastor at Mitchell, Mandan, Backus, and Huron on the Prairie Lakes District as well Ridgefield, Washington. Real Life Church will be his sixth church as an Interim Pastor. Tom’s hobbies include golf and remodeling his home.  He and his wife, Becky, have two children, Jason and Tammy, and six grandchildren. His key verse is Ephesians 3:20.
Contact Pastor Tom at:   tom.shaw@reallifenaz.org


Husband: Michael   Children: Connor, Savannah, and Mallory
Sonnie Knisley and her husband, Michael, began attending Real Life Church in March of 2013 after relocating to the Black Hills area from Dayton, Ohio. By the Lord’s gracious will, Sonnie answered the call to serve as Children’s Director for Real Life beginning in November of 2014. Sonnie holds a degree in music education from Wright State University. While music has always been a passion of hers, the Lord has also given her a desire to teach and share the love of Jesus with others around her, especially children! Her husband Michael currently serves on Real Life’s worship team Sunday mornings, and works at the United States Postal Service through the week.  Mike and Sonnie and their children, Connor, Savannah and Mallory,  enjoy driving through the Black Hills, hiking, discovering new eateries and playing at all the great parks! Sonnie and her family love people as well, and would love to get to know others, whether it’s over playtime at the park, dinner between families, or a simple chat at the office. They are thankful for how the Lord has provided while serving here at Real Life Church. 


Zach and Olivia began attending Real Life Church in September of 2016 when they began to hear God’s call to youth ministry. Zach graduated from Black Hills State University in 2019 with a degree in Business Administration, and Olivia just became a nurse at Regional health on the mother baby unit. While they both have careers in the professional world, God has laid a desire on their hearts to serve the students and families at Real Life. The Johansen’s passion is to build relationships with the students and lead/teach by example how to be ambassadors for Christ while building a personal relationship with Him. This couple will always find time for hanging out with students, meeting new people, and eating ice cream sundaes. If they don’t come up to you first, introduce yourself to this friendly couple! They would love to meet you!

Our Heritage
Pastor Sean McPherson was the Senior Pastor at Real Life Church for Eight years. After two battles with cancer, Pastor Sean passed away on April 26th, 2018 surrounded by his family and loved ones. Real Life Church remembers Pastor Sean and keeps his positive attitude and desire for those that do not yet know God and those who seek to know God on a deeper level.