Rural Missouri - July 2012 - (Page 14)
Tommy Thompson, pastor of Grace Cowboy Church in Vienna, opens Thursday night service with prayer. The laid-back approach of cowboy church has great appeal to many people.
corralling the faithful
A come-as-you-are approach gives cowboy churches appeal to many attendees
people gather for the Thursday evening service. While Tommy’s lived in rural Missouri for more than 30 years, his Texas upbringing has left him hen you walk inside, with a gentle Southern drawl that you won’t see any elabseems a perfect match for a cowboy orate stained glass winchurch preacher. dows or wooden pews. After a few hymns, prayer requests There aren’t any collection plates, and praise reports, Pastor Tommy and it’s doubtful you’ll see anyone offers the group an unvarnished, wearing a suit coat or dress. And if nuts-and-bolts message. The evening you want to be baptized, it’s likely usually doesn’t last more than an to be done in a nearby creek, river or hour or so, but those attending new cattle trough. often stay for coffee and to visit “It doesn’t exactly afterward. Anyone wanting to smell like a Cathomake an offering simply lic or Baptist church drops it into the blue feed either,” says Pastor Tommy bucket on the counter. Thompson, as he looks • A hundred years ago, around the K & M cattle aucVienna cowboy ministers travtion barn where the Grace eled to serve wranglers Cowboy Church meets in on remote ranches who Vienna each Thursday. This is cowboy church, part lived too far from town to attend a conventional church. of a growing movement that started Cowboy ministries seriously began in Texas. According to www.cowboyhitting rodeo circuits in the 1970s to church.net, there are more than 800 accommodate the rodeo competitor’s cowboy churches nationwide, with 25 schedule. listed in Missouri. It ain’t fancy and “We don’t care about your past or it’s pretty laid-back, but then again what you’re wearing. This is about that’s part of the appeal for many having a relationship with God,” says people. One might think Jesus would Stan Henderson, who’s served as pashighly approve of the come-as-youtor for the Eastern Missouri Cowboy are approach of cowboy church since Church in the northeast town of he walked the hills in sandals and a Bowling Green for seven years. He robe ministering to whoever would says an average gathering for a Tueslisten. day night or bi-weekly Sunday service “You can come to a service straight is about 150 folks. from the ﬁeld or in old overalls cov“Cowboy churches often reach ered in tractor grease or cow poop, people who’ve never been to church it doesn’t matter to us or God,” says in their life, as well as people who’ve Tommy, who might only have 30
by Heather Berry email@example.com
had a bad church experience,” he adds. “A lot of this ministry is just putting people back together and letting them know we love them as Jesus does — just the way they are.” Like Stan, Tommy preaches from the Bible in common language, often using examples from daily living to illustrate God’s word to the group. Sometimes, Tommy will tell the group he’s “Texas-izing” (paraphrasing) from the Bible, but that’s just to make it easier for folks to understand. “I keep the topics pretty basic, so they can be applied to everyday living,” says Tommy, who’s a member of Three Rivers Electric Cooperative. Pastor Tommy raises quarter horses when he’s not preaching, while Pastor Stan’s job is at a factory in Hannibal. Both ordained ministers feel that when God calls you, you should follow the lead. “God called me to preach at age 16, but I went into the Marines after high school,” says Tommy. “As life went on, I realized that God was going to keep on me until I did what he asked me to do.” In Bowling Green, Pastor Stan sometimes preaches while working with a young horse in the arena to get his message across. “I do that to show how communicating with a horse is so similar to how God wants to communicate with us — in a still, small voice,” says Stan. A lot of people might think you need to ride a horse or drive cattle to attend cowboy church, but not so. Sometimes it’s the love of the laid-
back worship or the characteristics of a cowboy’s lifestyle that draws people into the simple way of worship. When Tommy’s not at cowboy church, he holds services at regional horse shows, rodeos or agricultural events. Like Grace Cowboy Church in Vienna, Eastern Missouri Cowboy Church also meets in a cattle barn. “People need to realize that church has nothing to do with the building — it doesn’t matter where we meet,” says Stan. “What matters is their relationship with God.” Tommy agrees with Stan about what matters the most. “I always tell people that ‘I’m in sales — God’s in management.’ I’m just here to deliver the message, and if anyone gets a burr under their saddle about anything I share, I let them know to take it up with the author of this book,” he says, smiling and tapping on his Bible. You may contact Tommy Thompson at 573-422-3578 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Grace Cowboy Church holds services on Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. at the K & M Auction Barn at the junction of Highway 63 and Highway 28 just south of Vienna. To contact Stan Henderson, call 573221-8429. Eastern Missouri Cowboy Church in Bowling Green holds services on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. at the Eastern Missouri Livestock Market. Visit www.cowboychurch.net to ﬁnd other cowboy churches gatherings across Missouri.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - July 2012
Rural Missouri - July 2012
A peach of a place
Quilting for a cause
Corralling the faithful
Out of the Way Eats
Platte City’s jewel
Reeling in the competition
Hearth and Home
Rita & Little Ollie
Rural Missouri - July 2012
If you would like to try to load the digital publication without using Flash Player detection, please click here.