Newly planted cowboy church draws folks from afar

October 20, 2020

Cool Water Cowboy Church near Sanford is growing.

Drive by Hunt Springs Baptist Church’s building south of downtown Sanford and it looks pretty normal.

It’s a medium-size brick building with a neatly-trimmed lawn. The church reports having about 155 members — a solid number, but not a megachurch.

There’s no sign this church is a missions powerhouse.

But it is.

Pastor Wesley Thomas, a native of Pittsboro, preaches the gospel every Sunday, and the church has done well since he became pastor in 2010. But there’s more.

This average-size congregation has supported planting a new church in Angier. They have also welcomed a new Hispanic church to meet in their building. And most years members have made missions trips to other areas.

And then there’s the latest missions project.

Tuesday nights Thomas pulls on his boots, grabs his cowboy hat and drives out in the country to a horse farm belonging to Joe and Lisa Morgan. They have loaned out their barn for meetings of the newly planted Cool Water Cowboy Church.

Rousing services center on strong Bible preaching and gospel music that’s theologically sound. People from up to 35 miles away have been drawn to the barn.

Discussions and prayer meetings about planting a new church started in 2018, and the church was launched on April 28. Thomas hoped for maybe 12 people at that first service, but 34 came. Within months the services were drawing upwards of 120 people, and they had to move to a bigger room of the barn.

Rousing services center on strong Bible preaching and gospel music that’s theologically sound.

Thomas says the cowboy church is all about sharing the gospel and reaching lost people.

“People from other churches attend on Tuesday nights just so they can bring their friends and family members,” Thomas says. “They know their friends will hear the gospel.”

Cowboy churches have popped up across North Carolina. Like many of these, Cool Water is being supported financially by and with coaching from the Baptist state convention’s Church Planting team. North Carolina Baptists support planting more than 100 new churches all over the state each year as they give through the Cooperative Program and the North Carolina Missions Offering.

Why cowboy churches?

“It’s the simplicity that people like,” Thomas says. “A lot of people around here either have horses or used to have them. A lot of people know about horses and enjoy trail riding and such. But it’s not just horses. Cowboy churches also attract people who are used to a country way of life — horses, cows, hunting.”

But members do not object to cars. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck earlier this year, Cool Water continued services by having members drive in and stay in their cars to hear Thomas preach by loudspeaker.

Round-up type gatherings have also helped attract new members. Hundreds of people come to enjoy horseback riding, music, food prepared at chuck wagons, and gospel preaching. Some even rode the mechanical bull that was brought in.

Thomas is confident Cool Water will continue to grow as the pandemic fades into the sunset.

An early test came the first year. After meeting all summer, Thomas was not sure the people would want to continue meeting in a barn during cold weather. But they voted unanimously to continue. Since then the barn has been spruced up and is now heated.

Members have provided funds to build a new building for ministering to children.

Thomas and his wife, Mona, are confident Cool Water Cowboy Church will thrive. After all, the church is associated with Hunt Springs Baptist Church, a missions powerhouse church over in Sanford.


by Mike Creswell  /  Contributing Writer

Board affirms Unzicker as EDT nominee

Todd Unzicker, chief of staff at The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, has been nominated by the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s (BSCNC) board of directors to become the next executive director-treasurer of the state convention. The board voted to approve Unzicker’s...

4 kinds of pastors whose churches need revitalizing

Revitalization is one of those things pastors Google when no one else is looking. As I travel across the state, I meet pastors who minister in a variety of contexts — rural, urban, small, large, plants and even replants. Some of these pastors know their church is in need of...

5 ways pastors should respond to setbacks in ministry

Things don’t always turn out the way we desire. Oftentimes, we find ourselves asking questions about why something happened, or why we didn’t see it coming. We wonder why God allowed it or have difficulty seeing how God’s plan is being accomplished through it. Phrases such as...

How families can adopt a family discipleship plan

Many parents have made 2021 the year of discipleship for their family. They have taken the challenge and implemented the “Family Discipleship Plan” in their homes. Moms and dads have made this a priority because they know they have been given the wonderful privilege of being the...

Why leading your child to Christ is a process, not just a prayer

I remember praying a prayer at age 5. As a Cubby in the Awana program at our church, I was slightly intimidated by the leader who took me into the darkened chapel and asked me if I wanted to go to heaven to be with Jesus. I didn’t know what that meant. I may have asked a few...

3 steps to being missional in your community

The COVID-19 pandemic, along with heightened racial and political tensions, have sparked massive conflicts throughout our state and nation in the last year and a half. However, in the midst of the chaos, families have a unique opportunity to be missional in their homes and...

God’s presence provides comfort in times of transition

“It isn’t the changes that do you in, it’s the transitions!” These words by the late William Bridges, who was a leading authority on organizational leadership, have been ringing in my mind throughout the last year. When our country went into lockdown due to the pandemic, it was an...

Students: An untapped resource for serving in your church

I’ve heard it said that students are the church of tomorrow, but I really struggle with that — I believe students are the church of today and the future church leaders of tomorrow. Students need adults who love Jesus, love them and take the time to disciple them. They need...

 

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Stay connected by signing up for the N.C. Baptist monthly newsletter.

Select Language ^

Share This

Share this with your friends!