Rural evangelism in a changing landscape🔸极速赛车168开奖官网开奖

by George Schroeder on March 1, 2023 in Stories of Impact 🔸极速赛车pk5码冠军

When Wes Brown planted the church on 16 acres of farmland, there wasn’t much nearby but wide-open space. Now, 15 years later, there are houses going up everywhere. The rapid growth of Collin County, just north of Dallas, has arrived – or at least, is nearing, the Cowboy Church of Collin County.

And yet, the church, located in a pastoral setting a couple of miles south of Princeton, continues to thrive – proving, to Brown, that what’s important isn’t so much the style but the message.

“People ask me, ‘What is a cowboy church?’” Brown said. “I just tell ‘em, ‘We’re a church that worships Jesus.’”

Cowboy Church of Collin County offers a laidback Western heritage cultural vibe and an intentionally rural aesthetic. They offer worship music with country and western flair, and many of the congregants come wearing hats, jeans and boots. Beyond Sunday services and other familiar church activities, they offer opportunities to rope and ride. For people who may not have been to church in many years, they’re offering a new beginning. Above all, they’re offering Jesus.

“The draw,” according to James “Mac” McLeod, Western Heritage Consultant for Texas Baptists, “is lowering the barriers. It’s a more relaxed atmosphere. It’s a ‘come as you are’ deal.”

According to McLeod, there are almost 200 cowboy churches in Texas affiliated with Texas Baptists. While the roots of the concept are difficult to pinpoint, McLeod said the concept really took root and sprouted in the late 1990s and the churches share a common mission: “Reaching people in the Western culture with the gospel of Jesus Christ and providing a church home where they can grow.”

“Most cowboy churches are growing,” Brown said. “I think it’s the culture. Don’t get me wrong, there’s certainly a place for traditional church, absolutely. … But the cowboy church really extends its arms to those who’ve been detached from the church, for whatever reason. The cowboy church is almost a rebirth to them. It’s a new beginning, a new start for them. And people like that.”

McLeod sees a growing challenge in contexts like Collin County, with its rapid population growth and the corresponding shift from rural to suburban population. Like their urban and suburban cousins, some cowboy churches, he said, might soon need to consider revitalization to connect with their changing community.

“How are cowboy churches going to reach the communities they’re in, especially when the communities are becoming more suburban America?” McLeod said. “You look at Collin County, and people are flooding in there like crazy – and they’re not cowboys! So we have that same challenge of trying to stay on mission with why we started.

Brown’s formula for growing Cowboy Church of Collin County has always revolved around being an active part of the community. He and other members of Cowboy Church are out in the community rather than waiting for people to come to them. They’re serving their communities, showing Christ’s love to others. Brown believes that as long as the church is connecting with people, it will continue to grow, regardless of how the community may change.

“It has to be personal,” Brown said. “You can’t just put a sign out there that says, ‘Y’all come’ – which we do too! We say, ‘Come as you are, and invite people’ – but it has to be personal. You’re out meeting people, shaking hands, getting them to know you and trust you.”

“It has to be personal,” Brown said. “You can’t just put a sign out there that says, ‘Y’all come’ – which we do too! We say, ‘Come as you are, and invite people’ – but it has to be personal. You’re out meeting people, shaking hands, getting them to know you and trust you.”

Church members are involved in area civic events and organizations. Brown serves as chaplain for the Princeton police department. He regularly makes the rounds at feed stores and spends time in coffee shops.

“A pastor in today’s world and ministry, you have to get out of your box, out of your office,” Brown said. “You have to get out where the people are. I think that’s what Jesus did. He went to lunch with them. He was out among them. They saw him in town.

“For ministry to work today, you’ve got to be out among them.”

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