Michael Craft likes riding motorcycles. You can hear the passion in his voice as he tells stories about his many travels on his 2005 customized Harley-Davidson Softail Deluxe. There were trips to the Pacific Northwest, as well as pilgrimages to Sturgis, South Dakota — home of the largest annual motorcycle rally in the Northern Hemisphere.
“I rode that thing all over,” he said.
Those types of memories do something to a person. A motorcycle morphs into more than just another means of transportation after so many miles. It becomes like kin — a rider’s only true friend, most of the time, between stops along the road. That type of relationship may seem strange to those who haven’t experienced it, but it’s similar to any other strong feelings one may have for a memento or inanimate object of similar importance.
But Craft, a tattooed father of five, recently sold his Harley, so he could move from his former home of Colorado Springs to Telluride for a higher calling. As Alpine Chapel’s new senior pastor, Craft said he downsized significantly, including getting rid of his beloved bike and selling his home, in order to spread the word of God.
“It was a big deal,” he said of the move.
He recently completed his first week leading the church, and said everything’s been going well.
“It’s pretty quiet here right now,” he said of the off-season lull.
He added that his previous church (Calvary Worship Center) welcomed up to 3,000 congregation members for service.
“It’s a little bit different coming here,” he said. “We had more people in our church (in Colorado Springs) than there are people in the whole town here. It’s an adjustment for sure.”
His inaugural Sunday service in town consisted of 25 people, he said, but he knows that number will increase once the summer season begins. (The church’s congregation is about 100 members, he said.)
Craft explained that he prefers smaller churches, which offer “more of a chance to have relationships with people.”
“You earn the right to speak into somebody’s life. … People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” he said, before adding, “I’m not about numbers; I’m about people.”
He admits he might not look like the traditional pastor, but that contributes to his purpose.
“When I became a Christian, I felt like God wouldn’t want someone like me,” he said. “…Part of my life’s message is, ‘God doesn’t care what you look like on the outside.’”
While minister of a small church outside of Kansas City, Missouri, Craft said he had some out-of-the-box ideas that helped the congregation grow to 1,000 people by the time he left. For example, he cancelled Sunday service the last Sunday of the month for a while so the church could spend time volunteering throughout the community. The congregation spent time at area nursing homes and helped pick up trash after an annual Kansas City music festival.
“We did a lot of things that are really different,” he said.
He added that he would like to do similar outreach in the Telluride area.
Craft replaces longtime pastor Tree Cooper, who left Alpine Chapel in February 2017 to become the pastor of a church in Windsor, on the Front Range. The church’s Pastor Search Committee selected Craft from “over 100 resumes,” according to Jaime Stewart, church administrative assistant.
“The committee loved Michael for his unmistakable energy, his compassion for people, and the way he loves and cares for his family,” she said. “He has an undeniable gift of reaching an audience of people when he preaches. His desire to know God’s word and share of the love of Jesus is contagious.”
A welcoming celebration for the Craft family will be held May 20 at Alpine Chapel. The time is to be determined. For more information about the church, visit the alpinechapel.com.