When the first cowboy churches were planted in Texas, their plan was to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ and marry it with cowboy culture. Beyond just embracing the cowboy culture, these churches seek to reach a unique group of people who might not feel comfortable walking in the doors of a traditional church building. They do this by removing many of the “barriers” that can intimidate people about conventional churches, such as dress style and formal buildings.
Texas Baptists recently celebrated 20 years of promoting and starting cowboy churches. During those years, over 190 churches have been started. But, the mission is not done yet. Western Heritage Consultant Jason Bryant is seeking to equip those called to start new cowboy churches across the state through the Cowboy Church Pastoral Center.
Bryant first heard about pastoral centers from the Texas Baptists Church Starting team, which has used them for years to train people who feel led to start churches but have had little to no formal training.
“The emphasis behind these centers is to equip men that are called to start churches who maybe haven’t been to seminary or had training,” Bryant explained. “We try and equip them upfront so that they will be more prepared.”
Bryant decided to start a pastoral center specifically designed for those interested in starting cowboy churches. Though the topics are not all unique to cowboy church, they are often slanted towards reaching the cowboy culture. Furthermore, the speakers at these events have experience in the cowboy church world.
“Most of the things we are covering aren’t unique to cowboy churches, but I knew that guys from cowboy churches would be more receptive if there were people who were pastoring or had planted a cowboy church teaching the information,” Bryant said. “When we’re learning from others, we’d always like to learn from people who had walked a mile on the path we’re planning to walk down.”
Topics include spiritual practices like discipleship and evangelism and also cover things like church administration, which many church starters have had limited experience with. Bryant explained that the pastoral center sessions are working to equip pastors to start lasting churches, so topics like bookkeeping and attendance records are vital to helping a church flourish long-term.
The Cowboy Church Pastoral Center meets once a month at 3C Cowboy Fellowship in Salado, and attendance is free for all. Bryant sought to choose a central location so that people from all over Texas could attend. In addition to future church starters, lay leaders and team leaders from existing cowboy churches sit in on some of the topics, like discipleship or preaching.
“I believe any leader could come to this training and could learn things that will help them be a better leader,” Bryant said.
For more information or to get involved, contact Jason Bryant at Jason.Bryant[at]txb.org.