Cowboy Church Ropes Them In - Dallas News |

Cowboy Church Ropes Them In


There is some debate about when the "cowboy church" concept first emerged -- the first few maybe four decades ago.

But no one disputes that hundreds have sprung up over the last decade in Texas alone.

Like one in Terrell, east of Dallas -- the Rafter J Cowboy Church.

There are no stained glass windows here -- just folding chairs in the middle of rodeo arena.

There is no organ or choir -- just a country band on a plywood stage.

And an odd name -- Rafter J Cowboy Church

"It's a brand. It's like a brand on a steer," said Pastor Bob Young. "What it represents is rafter represents house. J for Jesus. House of Jesus. Cowboy Church is trying to get back to the basics of church. The way the church was first started in the New Testament."

And it's more than church on Sundays.

There is the "Buck Out," a bull and steer riding event on Thursday nights. It always draws a crowd of would-be rodeo stars.

And folks who come to watch them.

"I found this church when I was buying a horse," said Andrew Champion of Seagoville. "It's just my way of life. I've always been raised up in the country."

"It fits me. I don't have to get dressed up, put on a suit and tie and pretend to be somebody I'm not."

"I'm afraid we've put up barriers through the years, keeping people out of church," said Pastor Young. "Cowboy Church is about knocking those barriers down. Our target is always that Cowboy, but we get a whole lot of good people along the way. Because it just fits them."

"We have all kinds of events, every single night of the week and it's all ministry," said Red King.

Rafter J is loosely affiliated with the Baptist General Convention as are approximately 200 Cowboy churches, and most of them launched in just the last 10 years.

"It's the fellowship. The fellowship here. Everybody is friends. You get to know people. You help people out," said James Burt of Kaufman.

"I have the opportunity to come here, woship this way, share my love with God just the way I live my life."

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