Not long after we moved to Texas, our neighbors invited us to Cowboy Church.
At the time, I was in a deep state of apostasy, not reading The Bible, and furious with the church, but I needed to make some friends. Sam just wanted to rope. So we went.
The best explanation for Cowboy Church I’ve ever heard came from our pastor Dennis, a 30-year-old beanpole with a booming voice and a heart for Jesus. He’ll baptize a grown man in a stock tank, preach in his spurs and once rode his horse across Texas carrying a stack of bibles.
“Cowboy Church is a place where men can be men,” Dennis says, because if a man gets saved, he adds, the whole family gets saved.
In the early 80’s there were about five cowboy churches in Texas. Today there are an estimated 750 nationwide. They’re all about John Wayne and Jesus and that’s why you won’t hear any churchy hymns or see men in too-tight suits struggling with their neckties in the back.
Last weekend, Wood County Cowboy Church hosted its annual fall gathering, with a pasture roping, a chuckwagon, worship and two ranch rodeos. I don’t have time to explain what all that is to the non-Texans, so here are a few pictures.
You can hardly throw a rock in Texas these days without hitting a cowboy church, but if you don’t happen to live here and want to find one, here‘s a good place to start. If you live in a town where cowboys still exist, chances are they’re meeting on Sundays at the local sale barn and would love to have you.