Saddle Up Your Horse and Ride to a Cowboy Church
There might not be an altar in the building, or pews. Maybe not even collection plates or stained glass, but it’s still a place of worship for those who routinely don their boots and Stetson hats. Nobody is dressed in his or her, ‘Sunday Best;’ it’s more of a ‘come-as-you-are’ type of environment. I’m talking about ‘Cowboy Churches,’ and they are here to say in United States. In fact, a website directory on Cowboychurch.net, lists more than 400 cowboy churches in 36 states, and some say there might even be more than that.
Many of you might be very familiar with cowboy churches, and for others, this might be the first time you’ve ever read about them. So what is a Cowboy Church? It’s exactly what you probably think it is – a local Christian church that caters to the cowboy culture and western heritage. A typical cowboy church might meet on Sunday mornings in a metal building, barn, or out in the open.
I think one of the biggest draws to cowboy churches is their simplicity. That’s not a knock on the structure of this type of gathering or culture by any means. Many cowboys, cowgirls and horse enthusiasts seem to join cowboy churches because they enjoy country or bluegrass music and rubbing elbows with down to earth people like themselves.
While the whole idea of a cowboy church might be a little unconventional to city folk, it’s rugged and free, just like a cowboy. It’s ministry at its finest, dedicated to serving cowboys and the rural community in their own environment. Sound like something you would like? Cowboy Church Ministries, an organization in Weatherford, Texas, believes in training people to be leaders through discipleship. Their ministry, like many cowboy churches, includes horse shows, rodeos, roping events and auction yards. In fact, some cowboy churches routinely use equestrian buildings to showcase their riding talents before or after worship services!
If you’re looking into expanding your church, you’re not alone. Maybe a cowboy-style church is right for you. The Cowboy Church of Ellis County in Waxahachie, Texas sees hundreds pour into their metal building every Sunday to hear the church’s exceptional message. They speak through their mission statement, talking of growth and fellowship when they first opened their doors 15 years ago. “The novelty of a new kind of church directed at cowboys attracted them, but the warm accepting atmosphere kept them coming back. For many, it was a life changing experience that put them squarely on the path of loving and pursuing God.”
Isn’t that the point? Giving people from all walks of life an opportunity to feel comfortable in their own boots, while celebrating their own relationship with religion? Now it’s easy to see why cowboy churches are shooting up all over the U.S. The novelty is starting to wear off, and more people are wrangling this type of worship style.
Does this sound like your church? Maybe you’d like to worship the cowboy way? If you’re trying to rope in more members, first ask yourself if this sort of religious undertaking is right for you. What kind of people frequent your gathering? How many celebrants are in your flock? Because of the, ‘come-as-you-are,’ and laid back attitudes of this type of service, many congregations like these get-togethers because it feels less intrusive. Do you have a space to gather, out of the open air? A metal building fits in perfectly with the look and function you need, especially if you happen to have animals around. You can even design a metal building to house your horses and enjoy a service at the same time.
It doesn’t matter what you ride, what you wear, or how your worship. If you think a cowboy church is right for your congregation, then it’s time to round ‘em up. Happy Trails.
Do you attend a Cowboy Church? Tell us about your experiences below!Photo courtesy: Debbie Anderson, trakygraves, literari, Billy Hathorn