Yeehaw! Cowboy Church

October 1st, 2013

I was born and raised in the city. So if you think going to worship at the Nashville Cowboy Church (NCC) might have been a bit of a stretch for me, it was.

But once I found a pew in The Texas Troubadour Theatre, I felt welcomed and enjoyed worship with this unique church! NCC was celebrating their twenty-third anniversary so after worship everyone got to eat cake during the fellowship time.

Here's what I experienced at Cowboy Church:

  • A large American flag up front behind the Cowboy Band and another flag in the left corner with a spotlight
  • Stetsons, cowboy boots, belts with big buckles, bolo ties, and a touch of bling
  • Kids up to 11 years old have a special time planned for them called Cow Church
  • Dr. Harry Yates, the pastor, began the welcome and announcements time before the 10:00 a.m. worship began. Worship began promptly at 10:00 a.m. with singing
  • Fifty minutes of music and testimonies by special guests Ranger Doug, Cody McCarver and Joanne Cash Yates (yes, that Cash family) with a lot of clappin and a little bit of dancin
  • Short transition times between each part of worship with the marshall (announcer) giving details about the church. They tape worship for their audio and video broadcasts, so there's no dead time. The marshall stood behind the lectern to the right side of the stage.
  • 10-minute sermon on The Prodigal (to the minute) with simple direct points anyone there understood and you didn't feel preached at
  • Instead of an offering plate they passed a cowboy hat
  • The altar call, without the altar, seemed as long as the sermon. Everyone was asked to close their eyes. Those who lifted their hand to accept Jesus Christ had a member of the church of the same sex stand with them during the last prayer. Dr. Yates offered a prayer for everyone.
  • An hour and fifteen minutes later we were off for cake and to shake a hand and hug a neck

Of course being in a theatre across the street from Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center there were tourists in worship from all over the world including: Japan, Denmark, Germany, Norway, and London. And when asked everyone had an opportunity to claim their denominational affiliation, the Nashville Cowboy Church is interdenominational. All of this greetin' and welcomin' came during announcements led by Dr. Yates. You can read more about NCC and like them on facebook. (Read about Dr. Harry Yates and Joanne Cash Yates' induction into the Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame.)

Some might think this is a trend. Search Cowboy Church and your results page will fill up. Wikipedia gives external links for more research and group affiliations. Some churches have a cowboy service like Pine Grove UMC offers once a month, people travel miles to attend on horse and in trucks (their attendance more than doubles the third Sunday of the month).

Cowboy Church isn't going away. And even though I enjoyed worship there I was reminded that I like a certain style of worship. But I applaud brothers and sisters who respond to God's call to plant churches that reach more people for Jesus Christ.

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