Wednesday, July 21, 2010

New cowboy church born last night

We gathered in an open barn with hay stacked in the corner. There were horse stalls behind us that had been cleaned out and the horses put out to graze for the affair. Country gospel music swelled from guitars, a mandolin, and fiddle. The hamburgers was good, the company was better. Last night the group voiced joy at the formation of Western Winds Cowboy Fellowship that will minister in the Choctaw-Harrah - Jones area, just outside the OKC metro area. Joe Hodges will lead the new church. He lives in the area and has a pretty good track record in ministry. The folks seem to embrace Joe and are ready to launch this new endeavor with him. While the crowd for this first conversation numbered about 20, the list of those who want to be involved seem closer to 40 to 50. A group of 15 or so could not be there - there was alfalfa to be brought in before nightfall. Last night was a good start to what I believe will be a grand and meaningful ministry story.

As I drove home last night I could not help but think of the other congregations we have help to birth or gain footing in their development over the past five and a half years. There is an emergent style church (Convergence) who reaches into a young arts community that claims one style of ministry and worship. The Cowboy Country Church in Chicksha claims another. The United Myanmar Baptist Church claims Burmese as their worship language, though those who worship in its midst speak seven other distinct languages. The Lai Baptist Church also emerges from the refugee population from Myanmar, but are worshipping in Hakha and are a home church worship group right now, led by a single guitar. The Sudanese Christian Fellowship worships in Arabic in a style that best fits their faith cultural traditions. A bilingual Hispanic ministry has begun its journey, starting as a Bible study group. The timing for it to claim a unique worship expression is still on the horizon. With these images singing in my mind I thought about the worship style that shapes the FBC OKC congregation on Sunday mornings and that speaks to me with power. All eight of these congregational groups worship in very different ways, but each speaks authentically to the community it serves. While we claim one faith, one Lord, one baptism, we are each uniquely worshipping in ways that let us come to God with our whole hearts and with a style to helps draws us into God's presence. I celebrate the birth of a new congregation - one more body of believers - seeking to be the people of God in the way born out of the essence of who they are. Thanks be to God

Grace and Peace, Tom

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