They Knew They Would Be Welcome Here
We’ve all seen bikers—black leather, tattoos, Harleys— but have you ever seen 9,000 of them in a church parking lot on Sunday morning? It happens every year at the Blessing of the Bikes at Murrysville Alliance Church (MAC) in Pennsylvania. Pastor Dan Lawrence prays for a safe riding season and then invites them to return any Sunday. They always feel welcomed and loved. Over the years, many have joined MAC’s Biker Ministry before hitting the road on a mission to share the love of Jesus. “Our heart is to reach our community for Jesus Christ,” Pastor Dan shares, which they do in seemingly innumerable ways: Reality Tour is a drug and alcohol prevention program in which teens and their parents are exposed to the harsh realities of a life (and death) of substance use.
Caring Hearts reaches out to children with special needs and their families, planning events and providing special friends who share the love of Jesus through God’s Word. With A Soldier’s Christmas, the church family collects items from the community and sends gifts and supplies to deployed military personnel. PrimeTimers, a ministry of retirement-age members, recently conducted a two-week food drive and raised enough to feed 90 families over the holidays. Christmas Care Bears gives presents to dozens of children in the community who otherwise wouldn’t receive any. And every Easter the Biker Ministry drives the Pipes & Pork Run delivering hams to needy families in the community.
As MAC reaches out, they find that the community reaches back. It was a handful of bikers who approached Pastor Dan in 1996 about starting the Blessing of the Bikes. He wondered why. Their reply, “You allow bikers to come to your services.” Not long after, MAC was asked to host Strengthening the Thin Blue Line, an event to honor law enforcement officers who serve and protect their community. A few years ago, the local high school football team asked for prayer as they entered the play-offs. That Sunday, the team stood as Pastor Dan prayed not only that they play w ell, but also that these boys would become the young men God intended them to be.
“Extending ourselves into a community that really needs to know about Jesus Christ takes a lot of work and resources. Any time you do Great Commission work, it takes work and resources,” says Pastor Dan.
Since Pastor Dan’s arrival 26 years ago, they’ve built office space, expanded a building, extended parking, and built a new sanctuary. He praises their relationship with ADF: “Larry McCooey wants to see what we’re doing and see the heart for ministry. He wants to see ministry develop and put a stamp of approval on it. ADF is [about] ministry, not just loaning money .”
This fits well with Pastor Dan’s passion to “Put God first, love Him and love others. Try to show them who Jesus is. And if you’re going to talk about it, then you’ve got to demonstrate it.” At Murrysville Alliance Church — they do.