Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Trail of Tales

When we first moved here to Asheville to start Land of the Sky Cowboy Church I did it with much prayer and discussion with my family and other ministry leaders in the Cowboy Church community. We didn't just decide one day to do it, we planned it and followed specific steps to plant a church. As we began our new work here in Asheville it became apparent that many of the people in leadership in the cowboy church community here in North Carolina and Asheville were not as willing to help as we thought or even as they had said. This began to play out with posturing and rumors being said about me.

It's a well known fact that the other cowboy church here in Asheville has been very distant towards us, even as we have tried to reach out and bridge any misconceptions or hurt feelings. In 2009 I even tried for a few weeks to meet with these pastors and cowboy church leaders to arrange a meeting only to be totally rejected, I have the emails to show for it. Reaching out we only got our hand slapped for trying. Not what I was expecting nor has any of it been Christ like or even biblical. It resembles something like high school where you have to walk on egg shells and not make someone upset or you won't get asked to the prom. We've been rejected by groups because they said we were not "church like enough" and rejected for not being "cowboy church like enough". All the time asking for help and leaders to be a part of the ministry.

So lets go to 2009, we are meeting in Madison County, NC and a cowboy church that is located 45 minutes west of us begins a partnership at a rodeo just 2 miles from where we are meeting, the same county. I call and ask the [astor of the other church if we could help out since it is right in our back yard, we get a resounding no! At the same time a rumor begins that me and someone in the rodeo committee have had words with each other. I call the pastor of the other Cowboy Church that the rumor is coming from and ask why this is being said, the pastor confirms the rumor and I try to tell him that me and the person he says that I have had an argument with have never met. It never happened. So I take it one step further I go to the person who I supposedly had an argument with and even he says that we have never had words or argued before. Strange, I think to myself, why are people trying to do this to me and my family. Still no one asks us to help at the rodeo that is just a few miles from our Cowboy Church. It's almost like a competition not ministry.

The reason I say these things is that the rumors and misinformation continue against us. Since then the cowboy church that was coming into our area has now begun to meet right where we were meeting. And not once did these people from this Cowboy Church ask us to get involved or help out in any way. If we are brothers in Christ were is the unity. It only seems like discord and rivalry.

Well just recently I got a call and was told that the pastor of the Cowboy Church that has now set up shop right next to where we were is telling everyone that I have lost my ministry license. The part that strikes me is that now matter what happens this church is doing everything they can to try and start rumors. It is sad to hear and it grieves me because Christ is not in any of this, it's the posturing and personal agendas that are in the front row.

We have asked other ministry leaders to step in and assist with these challenges but everyone has a hands off approach, no one wants to get involved even when it is in direct opposition Gods word. This has had a profound effect on my family personally they have seen things that I never thought we would experience in any ministry especially the cowboy church. Personally I've never seen anyting like this. Where ever I've messed up I'm willing to take responsibility for but this has gotten so far out of hand it's almost childish. In a word my family has seen the dark side of ministry. Please keep us in your prayers, we can't change people or years of tradition but God can break hearts and change lives. He knows the inner workings of all of us and in the end God desires that we come before Him humbly and with Christ in our heart.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Sunday Buckout

A few weeks ago a neighbor told me about a Buckout (practice bull riding) in Woodruff, SC. He said it was a small place but that it was attracting some good riders. The buckout was at Raymond Buckners' ranch just north of Greenville, SC. I decided to look him up and find out a little bit more about his event. He and I spoke a couple of times over the past few weeks about bringing cowboy church and announcing for the Bull Ride.

Just before I talked to Raymond I met a man by the name of Peter Finch who was interested in doing a documentary about Cowboy Churches. We met one day while I was shopping at Jacksons Western Wear, one of my favorite places to hang out in Asheville, he was talking to the owner who put him intouch with me, all while we were just standing there in Jacksons. A chance meeting, I don't think so. Peter shared with me his vision about wanting to do a documentary on cowboys and cowboy church. As we began to talk we both realized that we had alot in common. I tell you that because no sooner had Peter and I met that this opportunity to do a Cowboy Church at this buckout opened up.

Finally I was able to get there over to the buckout this Labor Day weekend. They buckout every Sunday at 5 PM in the summer. Iin addition to Cowboy Church Peter showed up with a video crew to document Cowboy Church and the buckout. I'm not sure but I think it was more than he bargined for. Because at one point I looked over at Peter and his other camera man and both of them had grins from ear to ear. They were having a good time.

For our first cowboy church at the buckout I thought it went very well. There were about 25 people there and 9 riders. Once things settled down we had an opportunity to talk with each of the riders and others that were just there to watch and they all said the same thing. "We want Cowboy Church here each Sunday!" Peter asked me to interview a few of the bull riders and ask there experiences, kind of the "why do you do something like that?" question. One theme began to emerge and it was about their personal faith in Christ, the relationship each one of those young men had with Christ was unique yet they all spoke of their experiences as a tool to witness to their friends.

1 Peter 3:15 says it best; but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

Be able to share the Good News is very different from actually putting the truck in DRIVE and heading out on the highway to go do it. God showed me an opportunity and I had no other choice but to answer. No agenda or personal gain, just the call.

If you're ever near Woodruff, SC on a Sunday call me up and I'll give you directions to the Buckout Cowboy Church