The Christian Motorcyclist Association (CMA) is a world-wide organization
of Christian motorcycle riders who get together in local groups to spread the Word of God to non-Christian motorcyclist. They attend motorcycle rallies (both secular and Christian), church outings, public
events, carnivals, fairs, and much more to bring attention to Christ.
I have been a member of the CMA for over 2½ years, in a
chapter based in Plano, TX, called the Faith Riders; I will draw on this experience as one of the methods to present the CMA
and its mission. Also, I will interview another CMA member who has recently joined
the association and find out why he did so, and I will use internet resources to present a thorough study of the Christian
CMA And Its Mission
CMA is headquartered in Hatfield, AR where is was founded
by Herb Shreve, a pastor who took up motorcycling to reach his son for the Lord. Pastor
Shreve retired from CMA in 1994 and was replaced by that son, Herbie, as the director of the organization. According to Chuck Westgate, a pastor and CMA supporter, Herbie retired this year (Westgate 2003); he was
replaced by John Ogden, Sr. who heads the board of six national directors.
CMA describes itself as
A non-profit, interdenominational organization, dedicated
to reaching people for Christ in the highways and byways through motorcycling. Since
it's beginning in the mid 70's, CMA now has had over 90,000 applications for membership and over 700 chapters chartered in
the United States.
CMA is not a club, but a ministry. Our ministry team program
is designed to make ministers of our members. We are involved in motorcycling events across the country and in taking the
gospel of Jesus Christ into America's prisons. (CMA 2003)
Not only does CMA have over 700 chapters in the united States,
it has chapters located in 13 other countries as well, with a current membership of over 96,000 bikers.
CMA's desire to be more than just another motorcycle club
is expressed also through their mission statement: To inspire our leaders and members to be the most organized, advanced,
equipped, financially stable organization, full of integrity in the motorcycling industry and the Kingdom of God.
- National Level
In the United States, the Christian Motorcyclist Association
is run by six directors, and is divided into six regions. The job of the directors
is to run the operational side of CMA as a whole, they are not assigned one of the six regions specifically. Each state has a State Director to oversee the operations in that state, California is divided and has
two state directors, one for the north and one for the south, they report directly to the National Board of Directors. The six regions are: South Central, Northwest, Northeast, Southwest, Southeast, and
North Central (CMA 2003).
Each region is assigned an Evangelist who lives in that
region and travels to state rallies and other events throughout his region. The purpose of a Regional Evangelists is that of a pastor
who provides leadership, spiritual wisdom, and training in the ministry of CMA (CMA 2003).
Each year, starting 15 years
ago, CMA has a major fundraising event called Run for the Son. Each member solicits
donations from their friends and relatives in the form of pledges each person pledges so much money per mile in the Run for
the Sons 100-mile trek. In 2003, total donations from Run for the Son equaled
$2,440,617.69! The moneys earn are used in the following way: 20% for Bibles to Restricted Access countries through Open Doors missionary organization; 20% for the Jesus
Film Project, a ministry film shown in over 236 countries; 20% to buy motorcycles for native missionaries through Missionary
Ventures; and 40% to reach motorcyclist through CMA (CMA 2003).
- Local Level
There are over 700 chapters
in the United States alone, although each chapter is governed by the CMA bylaws, they are allowed to establish their own local
policies and to set their own schedule of events. Each chapter is therefore only
as good as its leaders and members. I know of at least one chapter that folded
because of bad leadership and another that split because of internal strife; as in any organized group, leadership is of the
Chapter officials are elected
yearly and include: a president, a vice-president, a secretary, a treasurer, a chaplain, and a road captain. Office holders may hold their respected offices for as long as they are continually reelected. Members must have had their colors (explained under the Requirement for Membership section) for at least
6 months, and have attended at least three-quarters of all yearly meetings, before they can vote or hold office.
The president sets the schedule
for the chapter, he conducts the monthly meetings, and generally oversees all aspects of the chapter. The vice-president stands in for the president in his absence, and performs any other task assigned by
the president. The secretary controls all paperwork, including applications,
flyers, and the minutes of meetings; he/she takes a head count every meeting, and collects sign in sheets. The treasurer handles all chapter funds and reports on the status of these fund at every meeting. In most chapters, the secretary and treasurer are the same person. The chaplain performs the prayers at each meeting and is called upon to deliver talks and sermons at many
events attended by the chapter. Once on the road, the road captain is the boss. He is the one who has planned the route to and from events, he has scheduled the departure
times, the gas stops, rest breaks, arrival times, and everything in between. His
bike is always first as he sets the speed and route of travel.
As previously stated, CMA is not a club, but a ministry,
the members join to worship God and to spread the His word to people who may never hear about it otherwise. A lot of recreational motorcycle riders ride their bikes on weekends, so they never take time to go to
church. Hardcore bike riders, those whose primary means of transportation is
their motorcycle, are typically not the type of people to attend church services. CMA
wants to specifically reach these people for Christ.
When a person joins CMA, they receive training in one or
two of nine ministry areas, taken from the CMA web page (2003):
Servants Ministry Team - Designed for people willing to
be used in a variety of ways by meeting practical and physical needs at rallies. This
ministry team member may offer help to the rally promoter in such areas as registration, security, clean-up, motorcycle games,
working at the ticket office, etc. This is the ministry that I am personally
Womens Ministry Team - This ministry team member attempts
to build relationships with women by being active in one-on-one ministry and meeting women's spiritual needs by first of all
meeting their practical and physical needs.
Prayer Ministry Team Members of this team not only prays
for the basics of people's needs, but they also to put prayer into action by visiting downed bikers and others in the hospitals. Members get the opportunity to minister to others who may not be near home, or may
not be a Christian.
Prison Ministry Team - CMA has developed a program for
those who wish to be more involved in prison ministry. These ministry members
will go inside prisons to assist prison Chaplains, witness to prisoners, pass out Bibles, mentor incarcerated youth, etc.
Hospitality Ministry Team - This is the team for those
who naturally seem to draw a crowd around their camp. These team members may
provide popcorn, soup, snacks, water, coffee, or just good fellowship at their camp for the purpose of building relationships
and sharing Jesus.
Music Ministry Team - The theme of this team is: Music
to reach their ears, so that the message can reach their hearts. Members of this
team provide music for services at the evangelist's request or lead group sing-a-longs around the campfire.
Mechanical Ministry Team - Designed for the person with
mechanical abilities and a servant's heart. Members of this team use their abilities
to meet the mechanical needs of motorcyclists attending rallies. They become
effective witnesses for the Gospel as they reach people through their practical knowledge of motorcycles and engines.
First Aid Ministry Team - First Aid Team members offer
basic services to rally participants for minor emergencies. To serve on this
ministry team, members must have completed a CPR or first aid course and have a valid certificate.
Childrens Ministry Team - The Children's Ministry Team
is geared toward reaching the little ones. These members will do what children
like to do and entertain them to keep their attention. Members need to be sensitive
to the needs of young people.
Requirements For Membership
To actually join CMA requires one to do is nothing more
than to fill out a simple application and mail it to CMA headquarters in Hatfield, AR.
The applicant must, besides giving basic personal information, confess to being a Christian, because that is the only
true and fast rule for membership. In a few weeks the applicant will receive
a small laminated card with their name and member number on it. No membership
dues are ever asked for, but each chapter is self-sufficient, so donations are accepted.
At this point, the new member can ride with other members
to any and all events, including all the meetings, cookouts, rallies, etc. But
in order for the new member to wear the CMA back patch, also known as colors, they must take a training course. The training course consist of 6 audio cassette tapes describing CMAs history, philosophy, organizational
structure, rallies, mission, and just about everything else concerning the organization.
Then, the member listens to an additional tape with information based on their chosen ministry team(s), up to two teams
can be chosen. After listening to all the tapes, the new member takes a test
over the highlights of the information and mails the test to Hatfield. In a few
weeks, the CMA home office will mail out a certificate showing the member passed the test along with the back patch the member
ordered and paid for at the same time as mailing in the test. The member has
the patch sown onto their vest and at the next monthly meeting, a small ceremony officially welcomes the person as a full
fledged member with all rights and benefits as all the other members.
The back patch is a beautiful yellow and aqua design, with
a Bible and praying hands in the center and the words Christian Motorcyclist Association and Riding For The Son surrounding
the outer edges of the patch. The patch is very distinctive and memorable, I
personally have had several people, when Ive said that Im a member of CMA, say something like, Oh, thats the club with the
big yellow patch.
Three Types Of Members
The common bond between the over 96,000 members of CMA is
there love for Jesus Christ. But like in everything else, that love for Christ
is not equal in all people. Ive found that the people who join CMA generally
fall into two categories (with one exception): Christians who just happen to
be motorcycle riders, and motorcycle riders who just happen to be Christians. The
two sound very similar but they are actually quite different.
Those in the first group, Christians who just happen to
be motorcycle riders, are typically the high-energy, evangelical people who cant wait to go to secular rallies to spread the
Word of God. They come to all the meetings, go on all the rides, and get involved
in almost every aspect of CMA. They use their ministry teams as a way to meet
non-Christian bikers and as an excuse in order to strike up a conversation in order to present the gospel to them. At rallies, the people in this first group are the ones seen going off in ones and twos to mingle in the
crowd, looking to meet as many new people as possible. Most of the time, they
are quite successful at being able to present the gospel to many different people over a short period of time.
Those in the second group, motorcycle riders who just happen
to be Christians, are typically not as involved in the organization as those in the first group. These members join CMA because they dont belong to the rowdy, partying type of crowd, but want to ride
their bikes with others. They may be marginal Christians who either attend regularly
but are not involved beyond Sunday morning, or they may be Christians who have gotten out of the habit of attending church
regularly. While the people in the first group go to rallies to witness and be
used of God, the people in the second group go just to be with friends and seldom venture out of heir little intimate circle.
Most all CMA members have been law-abiding citizens all
their lives, the type of person who buys a house in the suburb and has a 9-to5 job.
But there is a small group of members who, at one time, were know as One-percenters, they dont really fit into either
one of the two above groups. These people got their name when, years ago, the
American Motorcyclist Association stated that 99% of all motorcyclist were law abiders, while only 1% were the outlaw element
in motorcycling. The name eventually became a badge of honor among the worse
of the worse of bikers. When a former One-percenter accepts Jesus as his Savior
and eventually joins CMA, they are most always very evangelistic minded with a heart for other bikers, especially the outlaw
biker. Some still live on road full time as before, but instead of breaking the
law, they witness and minister to those bikers in need.
The Christian Motorcyclist Association is a ministry for
Christian motorcycle riders to witness about the grace of God to other bikers. CMA
members attends a wide variety of events, knowing that the motorcycles themselves, at non-bikers events, will draw a crowd
and provide an opportunity to witness. Individual chapters enjoy the right to
choose what events to participate in and how often to do so. Members get involved
in one or two of nine ministry areas with the purpose of helping others and demonstrating Christ in their actions.
In closing, here is the last paragraph of a short essay
by Bob Arrington, a CMA member:
A biker will spend hours on his or her knees next to the
bike cleaning off the grime and filth of the world, working a rag in many small, tight places around the engine and wheels
and frame. The biker will polish the chrome so light from the sun will reflect brightly for all to see. A Christian
biker also spends hours on his or her knees. The Christian biker prays to God confessing sin to clean the grime and
filth of the world off his or her life (I John 1:9). The Christian biker keeps his or her life as polished as the chrome
on the bike so the light of THE SON can reflect for the entire world to see. (2003)