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Cowboy Churches See Big Growth

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Jan 08
by Ingrid Schlueter

The cowboy church trend I reported on several years ago is really taking off according to the Christian Post. The article gives some clues about the popularity of these churches.

Some Baptist leaders say their cowboy churches have grown so quickly because they offer an alternative for those who associate churches with long sermons and pressure to donate or accept Jesus as their savior.

That’s right, folks. If you don’t have long sermons (the article says the churches give “short devotions”), feature rodeo entertainment, don’t teach on tithing or present the need for Jesus as Savior, you can have a humdinger of a church. Yee ha.

Churches are now themed like amusement parks. Find one that’s fun for you. Churches like Saddleback led the way for picking your own personal worship preference. Don’t like cowboy churches? How about a Hawaiian-themed service with hula praise dancers and a luau afterward? Don’t laugh, they’ve already done the hula “island worship” theme at Saddleback. If the islands thing doesn’t suit your tastes, how about a Parisian café theme? The worship leader could stroll among small tables with a concertina while worshipers sip the best of the Loire Valley and munch croissants. Not into the Euro-snob scene? A Pirates of the Caribbean feel might be right for you. A swashbuckling pastor could dramatize all his sermons in a piratey sort of way, and the decor could be based on a pirate ship complete with a Jolly Roger hanging from the ceiling. Critics could be made to walk the plank.

A cutting-edge idea would be to have a dual-theme church where men and boys go off to the pirate service and women and girls go to a Disney princess service. There could even be some dramatic interplay between the two where pirates kidnap a damsel and Prince Charming rides into the service on his white horse to rescue the maiden. The sermon potential here is rich.

Lord, save us from this foolishness. Church worship was never supposed to be about us and our tastes, but a command performance for the King of kings. My objection to the cowboy themed churches is not that people are worshiping in jeans in a barn somewhere. It is the contrived nature of all of this, where people are encouraged to wear their spurs and chaps to fit in and come hang with Jesus for a few minutes before the rodeo. If people have a problem with long sermons and being taught about sin and hell, their greatest need is not accommodation—it is repentance. Sadly, few will hear that message in these circus-driven churches.  Send us your thoughts on this article.