Rides, Rallies and Events Recap

Christian Bikers Workshop

Written by  January 31, 2005

On Saturday morning, January 8, the Cycle Disciples of Kansas City sponsored a Christian Bikers Workshop. Chapter president Teddy Bittner, a.k.a. the Colonel, had invited Cycle Connections to cover the event, and I was pleased to accept the assignment. Included in the group of about 30 participants were members of the Christian Motorcyclist Association, the Heart of God Fellowship, Bikers for Christ, the Tiffany Fellowship, Deerbrook Covenant Church, and, of course, the Cycle Disciples. The workshop took place in a classroom on the campus of the Calvary Bible College & Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri.

The first topic, “How to Organize and Sustain a Large Biker Event,” was addressed by three speakers, each with a different perspective. Sandy Baldwin, Director of Community Relations at City Union Mission, did a super job of covering the various aspects of planning and conducting fund-raising events. During her many years of involvement with the Bikers with a Mission (BWAM) event, she has developed a great insight into what works and what doesn’t. Sandy’s main points involved the mission statement, organization, admin/planning committee, insurance/permits/contacts, sponsorship, sponsor groups, promotions, participant items/drawings/prizes, media coverage, food, music, route, and program. Her presentation was very thorough and informative.

Laurie Finley from Gail’s Harley-Davidson then spoke about what sponsors expect from event organizers. Laurie is instrumental in the success of various events presented by Gail’s and is also involved in handling numerous sponsorship requests received by the dealership, so she is intimately familiar with both sides of this coin. She stressed the importance of planning early, so that potential sponsors aren’t already locked into an annual budget. Those soliciting sponsorship must have an organized presentation addressing the five W’s—who, what, where, when, and why. Sponsors want to know about the background of the organization and how the donated money will be used. Many sponsors prefer to be involved with local organizations benefiting the community where they do business. Laurie stated that sponsors expect specific details about the extent of their involvement and what advertising and other benefits they can expect in exchange for their support.

The third presenter, recruited on short notice, was Matt Brinson, Production Director and Morning Show Host at KLJC 88.5 Radio. Matt, a member of Cycle Disciples, talked about media sponsorship of events. He echoed the importance of an organized, professional presentation delivered in person if possible. It’s important to think through what involvement the media partner is to have--setting up a booth, broadcasting live, and so on. Matt stressed the importance of assigning someone to assist the media by providing pertinent information and helping media representatives to be in the right place at the right time for the best possible coverage of the event. Amen, Matt! It had not occurred to me that even radio stations are interested in photographing events since many have web sites. Matt’s final bit of advice was that post-event contact is hugely important. A simple card of thanks goes a long way toward maintaining excellent relationships with sponsors.

The second topic was “Suggestions for One-on-one Ministry” and was covered by Bill McCormick from the Heart of God Fellowship. Bill’s points were as follows, slightly paraphrased: (1) Be real-- don’t put on an act. (2) Find a common denominator. (3) Listen to the person. (4) Respect the person, and keep your cool. (5) Don’t expect results on first contact. Be persistent but not combative. (6) Minister by example. (7) The person God sent you to minister to may not be the one you’re talking to, but a quiet listener near by. (8) Check up on the people you talk to. (9) Give them something to remember you by. (10) Be aware that they may not remember the conversation the next time you see them. Bill’s message was quiet but powerful. He was humorous but made serious points backed up with scripture.

A few days after the event, I touched base with Teddy to get his views on the workshop.

CC: Please provide some background information concerning the planning of the Christian Bikers’ Workshop. When did the idea originate? Who was involved in the planning? How were the speakers chosen?
Teddy: Within the past couple of years, both Guy Girratono and Bill McCormick commented to me on the need for Christian bikers in the Kansas City area to work together more closely. It occurred to me that a periodic (perhaps annual) Christian biker workshop addressing key activities associated with organizing and maintaining events would be a vehicle to bring us together.

Planning for the event was very simple, done in a couple of regular Cycle Disciple meetings beginning in October 2004. We briefly discussed topics and I started sending out letters to potential speakers.

Speakers were selected based on expertise and reputation within the biker community. Bill McCormick, who spoke on sharing the Gospel one-on-one, is highly regarded throughout the Kansas City biker community. Sandy Baldwin from the City Union Mission has fourteen years of experience in organizing and maintaining “Bikers with a Mission” and Laurie Finley is Gail’s Harley-Davidson events specialist. Guy Girratono, the founder of “Bikers with a Mission” was also scheduled to speak, but was unable to attend the workshop due to work conflicts.

CC: Please state the purpose or objective of the workshop.
Teddy: The purpose was twofold: first, to serve as a venue for bringing people together from various Christian biker organizations in Kansas City; second, to share information related to organizing and sustaining motorcycle events.

CC: How was the site selected?
Teddy: We needed a classroom environment. Calvary Bible College and Theological Seminary was kind enough to allow us to use one of their classrooms. The event was timed so that it took place before the new riding season, and coincidentally, before start of the spring semester so that classrooms on Calvary’s campus were not in use.

CC: How was the event advertised or promoted?
Teddy: We sent letters to leaders of various Christian biker organizations in and around Kansas City. We also did some limited Internet advertising using on-line calendar sites, and established a temporary web site for the event.

CC: Do you feel that the workshop accomplished its objective?
Teddy: Absolutely. The speakers did a great job of sharing key information on event planning and organizing, and it was an opportunity for people to meet and share ideas, some for the first time.

CC: What plans do you have for future workshops?
Teddy: I believe we will try to do this on an annual basis. The event is low cost and low maintenance, but can bring great benefit.

CC: What individuals or organizations should be recognized for their efforts or sponsorship?
Teddy: Obviously there are several. First, to Calvary Bible College for providing the use of their facilities. Second, to Gail’s Harley-Davidson for allowing Laurie Finley to share about sponsorship expectations. Third, to the folks at Heart of God Fellowship for lending us Bill McCormick for the morning. Fourth, to the City Union Mission for sending Sandy Baldwin. Also to Guy Girratono for planting the seed and encouraging us to make it happen. Finally, to members of Cycle Disciples who put up with my crazy ideas and willingly worked on pulling it together.

CC: THANKS for inviting us. I personally enjoyed the workshop and found it very worthwhile.

By Stripe