By Sharon Mager, BaptistLIFE Correspondent
NEW CASTLE, Del.—Iron Hill Community Church members, working with Delaware Baptist Association Director of Missions Mitch Dowell, were searching for their purpose. Were they being obedient to God? Where was their roadmap taking them? Interestingly, maybe the question should have been what vehicle should they be using. After much discernment and prayer, they officially became a “Freedom Biker Church” (FBC) on August 18.
Freedom Biker Church is a network of churches, a “brotherhood,” of believers who have a love for the open road and a desire to know God in a real and personal way. Their official mission on their website states: “We are GATHERING together to develop a Brotherhood of Bikers bound together by a faith relationship in Jesus Christ, GROWING as committed followers (Disciples) who share a passion for Bikers and the freedom of the open road; Bikers reaching Bikers, GOING out into the world, with the Message of real Freedom in Jesus Christ.” The organization’s beliefs are Bible-based and they abide by the Baptist Faith and Message.
John Willis, Iron Hill Community Church’s (now Freedom Biker Church) pastor, said the church had been “spinning their wheels.” He said he initially scoffed at the thought of a biker church, thinking, “Yeah, that will never fly,” but after discussion and prayer, the idea became more appealing. Willis discussed it with his wife, Kathy, who he said is not a “biker chick” and she loved the idea. Willis laughed and said he was blown away. He, Kathy, and several others from Iron Hill visited a FBC in Virginia.
Willis and the others were immediately comfortable. “Iron Hill is a unique animal but we walked in and they were just like us,” Willis said. The church took a vote and over 95% were in favor of the transition.
Willis and several others who would become the core team went to Raleigh for a weekend of training.
“I knew our church was on the verge of something. We have great gifts and great people. This helps give us the structure to hold it together,”he said. With a name and structure change, some refurbishing and rebranding, Willis said the transition is actually more of a restart but stresses,
“It’s still church planting, still the Gospel, still Southern Baptist,” Willis said. “This is making our mission focused,” Willis said.
The change will also help those seeking a church to know that Iron Hill Community Church, (now Freedom Biker Church) is unique. Willis said when people walk in, they don’t see the “average church folks.” They see people who are a little gruff, have long hair, beards and tattoos.
Mitch Dowell is thrilled with the change for the church. “They know they’ll never be a mega church but they want to minister to that unreached group. With the biker network, they’ll have partners to help them reach this demographic,” Dowell said.