Church planting has a ‘cowboy’ flavor
Personnel shift also announced
By Allen Palmeri
April 4, 2006
JEFFERSON CITY – The principle of multiplication continues to be promoted within the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) church planting department as a total of six churches were planted in the first quarter of the year as the convention continues to tap into the success of the so-called “cowboy church” model.
The success of the Cape County Cowboy Church is tangible, according to MBC State Church Planting Director Jerry Field. The church was planted in January of 2004 by Jim Matthews, who at the time was pastor of Red Star Baptist Church in Cape Girardeau, and Mike Parry, pastor of Fruitland Community Church in Jackson. The idea of planting a church in a livestock auction barn is catching on throughout Missouri in places like Bowling Green, Springfield, Diamond and Iberia, Field said, as Matthews, who is now the full-time pastor of the Cape County Cowboy Church, continues to serve Missouri Baptists as a mentor, coach and adviser.
“We’re looking at the development of a network coming into place,” Field said. “In August probably we’re looking to do some special training that’s just specifically focused for cowboy churches, because it’s a different paradigm. So we’re really excited about what we see taking place there.”
A horse whisperer evangelism event was held last August in Diamond with approximately 1,200 in attendance. Horse whisperers are people who use commands and touches to break wild horses while sharing the Gospel along the journey. First Baptist Church of Diamond, which is acting as the sponsoring church for the new cowboy church plant, now hopes to put on another horse whisperer evangelism event for 2,000 people as a means of launching the new congregation, Field said.
Early this year, a cowboy church was born in the Bowling Green livestock auction barn. Attendance is already in excess of 200, Field said.
Meanwhile, the MBC church planting specialist who has been integral to the success of the fledgling cowboy church network in Missouri is in the midst of a new assignment. Ben Hess is in the process of moving from the St. Louis area to the Kansas City area to plug a gap in the MBC church planting lineup. Field said Hess hopes to buy a house and move into it by June as Ron Cathcart and Rick Biesiadecki settle into their roles as MBC church planting strategists both in and around the St. Louis metro area.
“Ben has done an incredibly fine job of laying a great foundation of work in the St. Louis area, up and down the east side of the state,” Field said. “That’s actually going back home for Ben. He was raised outside of Kansas City and as a young man worked for the Teamsters in Kansas City. So his heart’s stirred real strongly.”
Field said Hess is flowing smoothly with Kansas City church planters, churches and associations as spring begins in earnest.
“He has the ability to work in a wonderful way with the most traditional of traditional Missouri Baptists and talk their language and understand their paradigm and what they are doing,” Field said. “He also has the ability to step outside of the box and work with these church planters, these that are very non-traditional and postmodern. He is equally at ease and comfortable there.”