Living Democracy

My Experience with Cowboy Church

Cowboy church service in progressThe other day as I was driving down the road in Henagar, a town located near Collinsville, I passed an interesting sign with faded wooden letters that invited, “Come join us for cowboy church! Every Sunday at 10.”

I was of course intrigued by the notion of cowboy church. I wasn’t sure what that constituted exactly. The next Sunday, I decided to drive up the dirt road to a little barn in the country to see what this was all about.

When I first entered, I saw men in faded jeans and dusty cowboy boots and children running around the church in their play clothes. I was so used to the starched suits of a traditional southern church that I was taken aback at first.

As the service began, the pastor, Wormy Wiseman (whether that is a real name or nickname is a mystery), greeted the congregation and explained what a cowboy church was. “To any newcomers we welcome you,” he announced. “We are simply a group of cowboys, livestock owners, country folk, and friends who gather through the grace of God and fellowship.”

Sign for Cross Over Cowboy ChurchPastor Wormy explained that the idea of this church is to welcome all people in the community who want to worship and fellowship together but may feel uncomfortable in a traditional church. “Everyone can come as they are,” explained a woman sitting next to me in the pew. “People can literally come straight from their field to gather with others and not feel out of place.”

The service started, and more people began to file into the old wooden barn. Bible study commenced. The children went outside to play in the field and learn a Bible story.

I learned a couple of things at the cowboy church. One is that these people want to extend God’s love to everyone else at the church. The people I met were genuine and warm.

After the service as I looked over the bulletin, one statement stood out to me. It said, “We have a saying at Cowboy Church – “If you would’ve voted for John Wayne for president then this might be the church you’re looking for.”

While this struck me as funny at first, I soon began to like the sentiment. It was real. The church wasn’t pretending to be some fancy group. They were just a bunch of country people who loved to gather in God’s name.

At the beginning of the service Pastor Wormy said, “Pull up a chair, shake a hand or two, hug a neck or two, and sit back and enjoy the service.”  That was exactly what happened. I was treated like family at the church, and I am thankful for the experience.

Cowboy church service in progressOverall, what I found out about my experience with cowboy church is that you don’t have to dress up or look a certain way to make a church. Church happens any time a group of believers gathers in the name of God and has a genuine experience.

I learned that a true church is one that treats everyone with kindness and never judges another. If there is a cowboy church in your area, I challenge you to give it a try. You might be pleasantly surprised.

By Erin Blythe
Last Updated: July 16, 2018