Motorcycle clubs are as varied as they are numerous. Some are mad, bad, and dangerous to know, others are altogether more amicable. The Christian Motorcyclists Association (CMA) most definitely falls into the latter category. They may share the same love for the open road and a powerful engine as the Hells Angels, but that's where the similarities end. If there was ever going to be a motorcycle club that you're mother didn't object to you joining, this would be it. But what exactly is its history? Find out as we take a look at everything there is to know about the Christian Motorcyclists Association.
What is the Christian Motorcyclists Association?
If you haven't heard of the Christian Motorcyclists Association, then the name alone should be enough to let you know what it's about. Simply put, the CMA is a non-profit, Christian, interdenominational organization that loves God even more than it loves motorcycles. In fact, it's less of a club than it is a ministry. Unlike other clubs that build their membership around an affection for a particular manufacturer brand or riding style, the CMA doesn't care what its members ride or how they ride it. Whether you choose a Yamaha, a Harley, or a Ducati, it's all the same to them. The only criteria of membership is that you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and aren't afraid to tell people about it. This is an organization that aims to make ministers out of its members... and unlike certain other clubs, the gospel they spread has nothing to do with turf wars and gang violence.
The Birth of the Christian Motorcyclists Association
Believe it or not, the Christian Motorcyclists Association didn't start in the Garden of Eden. Neither was it created as the result of divine intervention. As cmainternational.org writes, it all began back in 1972 when an Arkansas pastor by the name of Herb Shreve bought himself and his teenage son a motorcycle. At the time, his son was going through a rebellious stage. By appealing to his love of motorcycles, Herb hoped to reach out and close the generation gap. It succeeded. What it also succeeded in doing was something that Herb may not have been expecting at the time - inspire a lifelong mission to marry his two biggest passions: motorcycling and ministry. Two years after buying his motorcycle, Herb attended his first motorcycle rally. Surprised to find that many of his fellow motorcycle enthusiasts hadn't yet accepted Jesus Christ as their personal savior and that even fewer of them had even heard the message of the gospels, he decided to do something about it. In the spring of 1975, he contacted an attorney and applied for a nonprofit charter. And thus, the Christian Motorcyclists Association was born.
The Ministry Grows
When Herb decided to start a Christian motorcycle organization, he had an inkling he was onto a good thing. Yet within just a few short years of its inception, its success had far exceeded even his wildest expectations. As masterpedi.com writes, the organization rapidly grew to include over 125,000 members and over 1200 chapters in all 50 states. In 1980, it welcomed its first international chapter when René Changuion started CMA South Africa. Three years later, the UK hopped on board when the newly established Christian Bikers Association decided to change its stripes to match the CMAs. Since then, it's continued to explore new territories and now has a presence in over 40 nations.
A Very Different Type of Motorcycle Club
The CMA is very different from most other types of motorcycle clubs. They don't insist their members wear certain colors, they've got no preference about what type of motorcycle anyone rides, and they're far more likely to be found sipping a cup of tea than necking a bottle of vodka. In fact, the CMA is so very distinct from other motorcycle clubs, it doesn't really regard itself as a club at all. Rather, it's a ministry, with a team program that, as Wikipedia notes, is designed to "make ministers of their members." Not only does this make it different from other motorcycle clubs, but it also makes it different from most other Christian ministries, which traditionally hold the clergy and the laity separate. The differences keep coming. While most motorcycle clubs have a president, the Christian Motorcyclists Association has a Board of Directors that work side by side with a group of six regional evangelists, a Lead evangelist, and Special Projects Evangelist, all of whom oversee the CMA nationally while applying state and area leaders to manage local matters.
Values and Mission Statement
Like most motorcycle clubs, the Christian Motorcyclists Association has a mission statement and set of values that it expects its members to uphold. However, if you were expecting their mission statement to run along the lines of certain other MCs (the Outlaw's "God Forgives, Outlaws Don't," for example), prepare to be disappointed.
As per their official website, their mission is 'to raise up and equip a team of Christian motorcyclists worldwide that will be highly visible and credible as they reach out on the highways and byways in compassion without compromise.' A worthy goal maybe, but how exactly do they do it? Numerous ways, in fact. Just some of the methods they utilize to uphold their mission include evangelistic outreach in the motorcycle community, resolving any issues in a 'loving biblical manner,' training their members to apply biblical truths, working to develop CMA in new and existing territories, holding annual leadership meetings, and sending quarterly communications.
To further enhance their efforts, the organization holds an annual fundraiser and ride called "Run For The Son" to raise funds for their mission both in the US and abroad. Additionally, state, regional, and national rallies are held frequently with the aim of providing support, fellowship, and fun for members. A monthly magazine called "Heartbeat" is available, as is a range of member-only merchandise such as tracts, accessories, and other goodies bearing the CMA back patch (yep - they may be a ministry rather than a conventional MC, but they still have a patch). If you want to wear a jacket with the CMA patch, you'll need to pass the usual rites of passage first. Fortunately, you can forget about the type of initiation ceremonies other clubs like to engage in - the only thing you'll be required to do to become a CMA member is complete the organization's ministry team training series.
Written by Benjamin Smith
Read more posts by Benjamin Smith