This is a post from the IPHC Blog Website about the 2008 Biker Sunday Amarillo event:
As people walk into the church, an usher greets them at the door and hands out bulletins. Families say hello and catch up on the week’s events while children play around them. As people make their way to their seats, the worship team begins to play.
Sounds normal, right? Just like your church? Well, imagine this: 90% of the congregation – including the pastor – is decked out head-to-toe in biker gear.
Welcome to the ninth annual Biker Sunday at Christian Heritage Church.
The event is held in conjunction with a Toys For Tots drive with local Marines. The weekend begins with a Saturday swap meet, where vendors sell their goods in the church parking lot and youth hall. The church also sells raffle tickets for a Big Dog bike, and all the proceeds go to Free Camp.
On Sunday, the church is packed with worshipers wearing their “biker clothes.” Pastor Gary Burd wears jeans and a leather shirt; his brother Keith, who organizes the event, is wearing leather chaps and a leather vest that says “Hard Core Ministries” on the back. Hard Core is the church’s biker ministry. Many other Christian “patches” are in the congregation today, including a Hispanic ministry called “Los Perdonados” – The Forgiven. But as the worship service begins, it is obvious that today is a day to celebrate as one Body of Christ.
The service concludes with a special event. Over 20 bikes are parked in the sanctuary. The congregation takes communion together; then, the riders rev their engines and ride their bikes out of the church to kick off the annual biker parade and Toys For Tots drive. They drive to a local bar, where other bikers are waiting to join them. For the next hour, the church talkes to men and women from all backgrounds. Some are in gangs; some ride for fun. They all have toys strapped to their bikes.
At 1:00, the parade kicks off. Over 720 motorcycles ride an 8-mile route through town. When they arrive at the church grounds, a crowd of people line the street, waving American flags and cheering them on. Then they line up to deliver their gifts to the Toys For Tots truck.
Then comes the fun. The church property transforms into a bike-themed carnival. There are bike competitions: the potato race, a slow race, the burnout competition, and drag racing. There are stunt riders who perform daredevil tricks for the crowd. The local radio station, whose D.J. attends the church, comes out to promote the event. There is even a concert by a local rock/blues band. The church motorcycle ministry also performs “biker blessings,” where they pray for God’s guidance and protection over a rider and his/her bike.
At the end of the day, the crowd gathers for the final event. Pastor Gary introduces Ox, his longtime friend and evangelist to the biker community. Ox shares the Gospel with the crowd. Then they sing “Amazing Grace” together. As they sing, “Thu’ many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come; ’tis grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home” many in the crowd close their eyes or raise their hands in worship.
Afte the devotion, the church hands out awards for the bike games, then has one final event – the bike giveaway. The winner receives a free Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
The entire event, including the Harley-Davidson giveaway, is free to the public. It’s quite an investment for the church, but check out the return:
- 720 bikes in the parade
- 3,000 event attendees
- 20 biker blessings
- Over $29,000 in Toys for Tots gifts
- $9,300 raised for Free Camp
But here is the best return of all: a woman who had been involved in the Wiccan relgion (witchcraft) gave her heart to the Lord that day.
Biker Sunday reminds us all that the church is not made up of a sanctuary and a fellowship hall. The church is the Body of Christ. It’s time for us to go outside the walls of our building and reach out to our community.
Let’s do as Jesus did – as Pastor Gary and Christian Heritage Church did – and go into all the world.
Click here to see more event pictures.