CUBA — “I will not start a church plant unless they agree to give at least 10 percent of their undesignated offerings through the Cooperative Program,” states former rodeo champion and now pastor David Kenyon of Deer Creek Church here.
His story is layered with evidence of God’s sovereign orchestration of life’s circumstances and events.
Also known as Missouri’s “Horse Whisperer,” Kenyon (see ad on adjacent page) lives with his bride of 20 years on a small farm in Moniteau County. He traces God’s equipping for his current assignment as a church planter back to growing up near Branson. That is where he worked around livestock through local sale barns and learned to love and respect the world of farmers and cowboys.
He later began riding and roping in the rodeo circuit. His sharp skill thrust him into the winner’s circle in multiple states. However, the trophies he won were not the driving force in Kenyon’s life; the urgency of the gospel was continually pressing to the forefront.
Through his years on the rodeo circuit, Kenyon watched God open doors for evangelistic conversations through his unique demonstration of horse whispering, in which he trains an unbroken horse before a watching audience while describing biblical principles.
Horse whispering has proven a highly effective evangelistic tool with a vivid message. Kenyon has seen hundreds come to faith in Christ as a result of this unique ministry. This, along with other opportunities, gave birth to a growing desire to see a church planting movement begin among the unique crowd known as “cowboys,” which includes farmers, ranchers and other livestock enthusiasts.
Through a series of events, and networking with the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) and Laclede Baptist Association, Kenyon eventually stepped into the role as church planter/pastor of one of Missouri’s earliest known cowboy churches, the Laclede Cowboy Church. The church’s first “barn gathering” in 2008 consisted of 14 people with a commitment to impact lostness in their world. That same group now averages more than 250 in weekly worship and has seen more than 50 baptisms since its birth.
In 2011, God led Kenyon to hand the reins of the Laclede Cowboy Church over to another pastor and once again blaze the trail in church planting. He began meeting with a core group of believers for the purpose of planting an outdoorsman church.
God clearly directed their steps in miraculous ways, allowing them to gather first in a room provided at the Lady Bug R.V. Park. As their numbers grew, they moved outdoors to a tent, and currently meet weekly in a 40 by 104-foot metal pole barn for worship. They recently baptized believers in a local river.
Through these movements of God, Kenyon has witnessed the unique beauty of the Cooperative Program, the funding process Southern Baptists have used since 1925 to support missions and evangelism. Horse whispering events are held across Missouri in joint partnerships between local event hosts and the MBC Missional-Evangelism and Discipleship Team.
Church planting among cowboys and outdoorsmen is made possible with the assistance and training of the MBC Church Planting Team. City churches that would otherwise have no connection to the lostness of rural Missouri are touching lives through their faithful support of the Cooperative Program. Likewise, rural cowboy and outdoorsman congregations are able to impact urban areas with the gospel through the same conduit … a pipeline with eternal impact.