Faith & Motorcycles
Positivity, M&M, and Random Thoughts
I’m writing this while sitting on my deck, enjoying an absolutely beautiful day. I should be out riding, or cycling, or even walking, but I’m enjoying the quietness of this afternoon too much to move. The cat and dog are playing together in the grass, Heather is passed out on a lawn chair, and Jesus Culture is playing over the wireless speakers. Life is good.
My last post was almost two weeks ago. The church issued a 30 Day Positivity Challenge on Facebook. It’s been amazing to see how people are responding. Every day, people are creatively posting something they are thankful about. Many of the posts are an absolute blessing to me. If you haven’t done so, check out the VCC Facebook page and get in on the challenge!
Since issuing the challenge, I had no idea we would face such a roller coaster of emotions. I thought I’d take some time to share some thoughts on the past few weeks.
The Info Day & Swap Meet was a huge success. We saw record numbers. In fact, Bikers Church now hosts the largest swap meet outside of Toronto! Stop. Read that sentence again. A church hosts the largest swap meet in Ontario outside of Toronto. In fact, the 2800 people who attended the event likely puts us into the category of one of the largest motorcycle swap meets in all of Canada! We don’t charge our vendors anything to set up. We don’t charge admission for people to attend. And yet, every year, we make money on the event. I am absolutely convinced that God is in on it.
This year’s Swap Meet ended with tragedy. M&M wasn’t at the swap meet, but while it was going on, he had picked up Sandy from work. They were on their bike when something happened. What exactly is still uncertain, but Mike went down, collided with a van, and passed away.
He was one of the longest standing members of Bikers Church and his death was the first motorcycle related death we had to deal with as a church family. In the end, it brought many of the old timers together in a way nothing else could have. Again, I believe God took tragedy and used it for good. He was in on it.
But Mike’s death did more than just touch the hearts of church members. In the days following his death, momentum began to build among the motorcycle community. As word spread and the stories of how Mike lived life were passed on, more and more people were touched. By the time we gathered for our Thursday night service, his story was front page news. We had a record crowd for a Thursday night as we took time to honour Mike’s life.
But, it wasn’t over yet. A call was put out to the motorcycle community. Anyone was welcome to show tribute to a biker who left a large impact. Saturday afternoon, 170+ motorcycles were lined up outside the funeral home, ready to take Mike on his final ride. The local CTV station kicked off their 6pm newscast with the story. This wasn’t just a biker who had passed away, it was a Bikers Church member who died. The CTV website even carried a direct link to the church’s website. Twenty four hours later, I am still in awe of what has happened.
In the midst of all of this, God keeps touching lives. As I looked out at the crowd gathered at VCC this morning, I was disappointed in the small gathering. Until it hit me: there were five times as many people in attendance than 1.5 years ago. Today’s “small” crowd would have caused us to leap for joy only six months ago. Once again, there were those attending today for the very first time. A few approached me after the service to tell me they believed they had found a home. They would be back. Every week, we are growing. Every week, there is another story of a life changed by God. Every. Single. Week.
This morning, the good folks at Jericho Road took the service. I am so excited to have many of them as part of our church family. John & Vikki Ruby are an incredible couple, and I am convinced that they are an answer to prayer.
I am also blessed with an incredible team. I believe we have an amazing staff at the church. The personalities, giftings, and abilities of each person compliment the others. There is a lot of laughter, passion, and vision around the office. It is a joy to serve with these individuals.
The same is true of the Pastor’s Council. We meet on Saturday morning, spending time evaluating the past five months since the merger of City Church and Bikers Church. I love that these leaders recognize that even in the midst of great success, we cannot fear change. And so, we continue to tweak things, celebrating what is working with the merger, and being honest about what needs to change. I look forward to sharing some of those changes this Thursday and Sunday in a special vision update service.
I attended the PAOC’s General Conference last week (they were kind enough to host it in Ottawa). I had a number of pastors tell me that they were praying for me personally and also for our church. I was reminded of the many challenges we have had to face over the past seven months. The death of my dad, the tragedy in Alberta and the shooting of Shayna, and now, the death of M&M. And yet, in the midst of the challenges, God has shone through like only he can. He has demonstrated clearly that he is on the throne. His strength and grace are sufficient, and the journey with him is beyond rewarding.
Yeah, it’s been an incredibly season.