STURGIS, S.D. — After this
year’s Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Baptists in the Dakotas want to birth a
“We would like to have a church planter and core group in place in the Black
Hills by the end of this year,” said Garvon Golden, interim executive director
of the Dakota Baptist Convention.
“What we envision is that this would be the first of many churches across the
Dakotas and beyond started as a result of what we do here at Sturgis the first
week of August each year.”
Dakota Baptists’ evangelism ministry at Sturgis involves about 250 volunteers
from across the country who share their faith at the annual gathering of about
500,000 bikers and biker-wannabes — arguably the largest motorcycle event in
The volunteers are trained in giving three-minute testimonies of the change God
has made in their lives to “the affinity group we call ‘bikers,’” as Golden put
it. Anyone at Sturgis willing to listen then can enter a drawing for a
brand-new Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
The annual rally in the northern part of the Black Hills in western South
Dakota has, over its 71-year history, enticed many people to move to the area,
but few churches are ready to meet their specific needs.
“For some, Sturgis is where the healing begins,” Golden said. “We have people
come to the tent (on Main Street in Sturgis) who are on the fast track to
unmentionable places, and they know it, and we talk with them, and they see a
“Their lives change, and it’s a whole new world for them.”
Some people return to their homes, but some start a new life in the Black
Hills. The church that hopefully will start this fall in the Black Hills Area
Baptist Association is for those who stay and those who made their home years
ago in the area because of their biker interests.
“We need a church planter who wants to start a church for bikers,” Golden said.
“We’re just waiting on God to send His man here, someone who is comfortable
with people in the biker culture, someone who can start a church that
And while Dakota Baptists are waiting, they’re busy with the final details for
this year’s outreach at the Aug. 8-14 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. The tent will
be open from Aug. 6-13 in the usual location on Main Street across from the
Sturgis Motorcycle Museum.
“It starts months out with prayer,” Golden said, “praying while on our website —
www.sturgisbikegiveaway.com — virtually prayerwalking Sturgis and the Black
Hills, and dedicated intercession by prayer warriors across the nation for the
people we will be having contact with….
“About one out of every five people we talk with makes a profession of faith,”
Golden said. “The Holy Spirit takes the words of the volunteers sharing their
faith, and somehow turns it into just exactly what someone is needing to hear.”
Also during the rally, a “clean and sober” camp for bikers at a camp owned by
First Baptist Church in Custer will be operated by Set Free Ministries leaders
from South Dakota, Montana and Colorado.
“How to effectively share your faith in three minutes” training will take place
Monday and Tuesday during the rally at First Baptist Church in Sturgis.
Chaplains from Oklahoma and Dakota disaster relief teams are set again this
year to minister to vendors of T-shirts, tattoos and everything remotely
interesting to bikers, as well as to police and fire personnel and other
behind-the-scenes people who make Sturgis “happen,” each year.
In Dakota Baptists’ five years of intentional evangelism ministry at Sturgis,
23,779 gospel seeds were planted and 4,933 people prayed to receive Christ.
For more information on Dakota Baptists’ outreach at the Sturgis Motorcycle
Rally, contact Garvon Golden at [email protected] or (605) 877-1163.
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Willoughby is managing editor of the Louisiana Baptist
Message, Dakota Baptist Connections and The Montana Baptist, official
newsjournals for those state conventions.)