There is nothing wrong with meeting in a barn or having a friendly, relaxed atmosphere or welcoming people who need to come to church directly from work or wearing a bolo tie or baptizing in a stock tank or collecting the offering in a boot hanging at the back of the building.
If that were the essence of cowboy church, we would say nothing about it. But in researching this phenomenon, it appears that cowboy churches are big on cowboy and little on the whole counsel of God.
Though there are probably exceptions, they tend to promote a short Sunday service with a brief “message” and a lot of sensual, heavy-bass backbeat music. It’s the same sound heard at a Saturday night hoedown, where the liquor flows and you “grab your girl and do-si-do.” This is a cheap, fleshly, worldly music to offer as worship to a thrice holy God, and adding some words about “Jesus” doesn’t change the music’s fundamental sensual character and doesn’t convert it from being profane to being spiritual.
The non-denominational Wabash Valley Cowboy Church in Terre Haute, Indiana, has a Sunday “program that is 75 percent music, with a brief sermonette and no altar call.” The Ridin’ For the Brand Cowboy Church in Sanger, Texas, satisfies deep spiritual appetites with Andy Griffith and John Wayne Bible studies. Last Christmas, the “professional country-western musicians” at the cowboy church in Cortez, Colorado, told the congregation, “We’re gonna sing about Santa Claus tonight, hope you don’t mind that too much” (“Saddle Up,” Cortez Journal, Jan. 6, 2012). In January the Cortez cowboy church hosted a live comedy and Western music show.
I’m sure there are exceptions, but cowboy church seems to appeal to those looking for a bit of Christianity to salve their conscience, a type of church that won’t put obligations on them and interfere much with their chosen lifestyle. This is the “Jesus” that is still very popular in America. Typical is the local rancher who attends the cowboy church in Cortez, Colorado, who says, “I pray on a regular basis, but I’m no Bible thumper by any means.”
The doctrinal statements tend to be extremely brief, facilitating an unscriptural big tent approach to fellowship and association.
Some, like Cowboy Church Ministries, are charismatic.
The American Fellowship of Cowboy Churches is affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT). The BGCT, in turn, partners with the New Evangelical Southern Baptist Convention and with the theologically liberal Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, where Jimmy Carter, who denies the infallible inspiration of Scripture and believes that men can be saved apart from believing in Christ, has found a home.
It is obvious that most cowboy churches are outlaws when it comes to not conforming to the world, to contending earnestly for the faith, and to obeying the doctrine of biblical separation.
Sharing Policy: Much of our material is available for free, such as the hundreds of articles at the Way of Life web site. Other items we sell to help fund our expensive literature and foreign church planting ministries. Way of Life's content falls into two categories: sharable and non-sharable. Things that we encourage you to share include the audio sermons, O Timothy magazine, FBIS articles, and the free eVideos and free eBooks. You are welcome to make copies of these at your own expense and share them with friends and family, but they cannot be posted to web sites. You are also welcome to use excerpts from the articles in your writings, in sermons, in church bulletins, etc. All we ask is that you give proper credit. Things we do not want copied and distributed freely are items like the Fundamental Baptist Digital Library, print editions of our books, electronic editions of the books that we sell, the videos that we sell, etc. The items have taken years to produce at enormous expense in time and money, and we use the income from sales to help fund the ministry. We trust that your Christian honesty will preserve the integrity of this policy. "For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward" (1 Timothy 5:18).
Goal:Distributed by Way of Life Literature Inc., the Fundamental Baptist Information Service is an e-mail posting for Bible-believing Christians. Established in 1974, Way of Life Literature is a fundamental Baptist preaching and publishing ministry based in Bethel Baptist Church, London, Ontario, of which Wilbert Unger is the founding Pastor. Brother Cloud lives in South Asia where he has been a church planting missionary since 1979. Our primary goal with the FBIS is to provide material to assist preachers in the edification and protection of the churches.
Offering: We take up a quarterly offering to fund this ministry, and those who use the materials are expected to participate (Galatians 6:6) if they can. We do not solicit funds from those who do not agree with our preaching and who are not helped by these publications. We seek offerings only from those who are helped. OFFERINGS can be mailed or made online with with Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or Paypal. For information see: www.wayoflife.org/about/makeanoffering.html.
Way of Life Literature
Publisher of Bible Study Materials