Week 38: Cowboy Church, 17 September 2008

. . . cowboy church . . . at the fairgrounds, in the Rodeo building.

My friend says now I need to find the Bikers for Jesus service.

Yep, I wore my boots.

Yep they're pink.  It's so Farmergirl won't steal them.

Yep, Pink

Nope, I didn’t wear my hat.

We weren’t sure what to expect at cowboy church . . . well, except maybe cowboys.  It was a small gathering (about a dozen) . . . I think they generally have more folks, and seemed to expect there would be more.

You’re probably wondering how I ended up at cowboy church.  I was actually trying to find information about the cowboy church in Newman Lake, where I live.  Out on Trent Rd., in a church building that seems to currently be a Seventh Day Adventist congregation (but not the SDA we went to in OO at the beginning of the year), and there’s this metal sign, with a cowboy, that says, “Prairie Cowboy Church” on it, 10am, Sunday.  We haven’t made it to that service, and I thought that there might be more on a website somewhere, so I started looking around on the net.  I didn’t find that cowboy church, but I found Diamond J Cowboy Ministries, who have “Eastern Washington Cowboy Church” every so often at the Spokane Fair Grounds, including this Wednesday. But they’re by no stretch of the imagination the only cowboy church around . . . there’s whole networks* of cowboy churches nationwide. (There don’t seem to be, though, any in, say, Massachusetts or Maine, and only two in New York).

Cowboy Churches seem to be, in large part, tent-making ministries. “Tent-making” is church-jargon for “preaching isn’t my “day job”” . . . Al Parsons, for example, is a professional rodeo announcer and has a ranch. It would be interesting if groups like the All Nations Christian Center were run by tentmakers. There’s something that just seems less liable to edge toward the abuse of power and the self-serving collection of money when the leader of a religious organization has a job that supports h**self.

Part of the Diamond J vision is “to reach the farmer, rancher, rodeo cowboy, and those associated with the western world lifestyle not being reached by traditional methods. Sometimes, folks feel that the church has been too churchy for the world and the world too worldly for the church. Our intention is to break down the religious walls and meet people where they are.” The service was a casual time of “testifying” (which seemed to mostly be “praises” and prayer requests), followed by a sermon, prayer, and a coffee hour fellowship afterward. They seem to often have at least one guy with a guitar show up, but he wasn’t there this particular evening.

* It is interesting that what qualifies for listing in the directory is in the “legal” section of the website. Like the biker ministries I’ve looked into, cowboy ministries seem to tend toward literal, conservative, evangelical, semi-charismatic theologies . . . which I guess is something I expected of the cowboys, but maybe not so much from the bikers.

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