What the Church Can Learn from Harley-Davidson

A five-part series about successful churches by David Cole.

Slow Down

Harley-Davidson riders need to slow down sometimes. They might be low on gas, or they might have reached an intersection with a red light. Intersections can be frustrating when people are trying to get somewhere, but God loves to use those times of intersection.  

What the Church Can Learn from Harley-Davidson: Connecting with Today’s Culture uses Dave E. Cole’s riding experience in the Harley-Davidson community to suggest improvements for the current Church, such as keeping Jesus as the Church’s focus and ensuring that church communities are healthy and thriving. Another idea is to stop at “intersections.”


Cole refers to “intersections” as times when our lives come into contact with others. At these intersections, we can either speed past or pause. When we pause, we have an opportunity to connect with the other person.

People want to be seen and heard. They want someone else to care about them and understand them. They want to feel important, to be known. When we as Christians show a genuine interest in their lives, we can show them Jesus’s love in a powerful way.

After all, that’s what Jesus did: He showed genuine interest in the lives of the people around Him, and He challenged His followers to do the same.

But sometimes, we are simply too busy to pause and connect with other people.

The Snare of Busyness  

“But busyness is good,” you might say. “I’m accomplishing many important things.” That might be true, but when was the last time you rested? When your body is exhausted, you can’t fully function or do your best on tasks you’re supposed to be doing. Worse, you can’t invest in the others around you.

When was the last time you stopped to truly connect with someone? When was the last time you had a deep conversation? Have you been so busy accomplishing things that you have forgotten that souls are the only eternal thing in this life?

Our churches are no different when it comes to busyness. Cole compared them to highway systems; they are either too clogged to go anywhere and do anything or too busy to share about Jesus with others. What if church members slowed down and sought genuine human connection with other people, both fellow churchgoers and those who do not attend church?

That would require selflessness.


Cole talks about being outward-focused: serving others and putting them above ourselves, much like the apostle Paul says in Philippians 2:3-4: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

That’s a difficult charge. We naturally put ourselves first and push others aside so that we come out on top. But, as Cole said, “What would happen if we slowed for those God is placing on our paths, rather than elbowing our way to the front of the line or being the center of our universe?” (p. 53).

Maybe they would see God in us.  

Selflessness is not natural for us, but with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can put others above ourselves. It’s what Jesus did.  

Jesus Slowed Down  

The story of the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-42) is a beautiful representation of how Jesus connects with people.  

He wasn’t even supposed to talk to this woman. Not only was she a woman, but she was also a Samaritan, and Jews didn’t talk to Samaritans. Further, she was a “sinner”; she had been with many men and wasn’t even married to the man she was currently living with. Despite all this, He came to her in her brokenness and offered salvation.

Time and time again, Jesus slowed down and connected with people even when everyone else was telling Him to hurry up. He paused to interact with an unclean woman and not only healed her of her bleeding but also called her “Daughter,” showing her that she was seen and loved (Mark 5:25-34). He saw Zacchaeus, a despised tax collector, and initiated social interaction, which transformed Zacchaeus’s life (Luke 19:2-10).

He saw the broken, the unloved, and the despairing, and He paused to connect with them, offering hope and salvation. He wasn’t too busy for them. He put them above Himself. Maybe we should do the same.

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