The Gulf Coast Cowboy Church has received support from several CBF partner churches. Photo courtesy of Rocky Louthan
By Sue H. Poss, CBF Communications
ATLANTA – Team roping, trail rides, chuck wagon meals, rodeo skills camps, barrel racing and activities at the county fair are some of the events that Gulf Coast Cowboy Church uses to embrace its neighborhood.
Gulf Coast began in October 2007 in Santa Fe, Texas located outside of Houston. It is one of numerous churches that cater to the western, outdoor horse lover. Participants worship in jeans and boots and listen to country-western music during the services.
“Our entire church culture is designed to be seeker sensitive,” said pastor Rocky Louthan. “We preach the gospel in everything we do. We spend our time together looking into God’s word and applying it to our lives. At Cowboy Church, we are not about theology, but we are about living out our faith and giving people hope.”
During the outreach events, such as those designed to teach rodeo skills, Louthan shares the gospel, prays with participants and offers information about Gulf Coast Cowboy Church.
“I have baptized four of my ropers who now come to church regularly,” Louthan said, “all as a result of a weekly team roping practice and devotionals.”
At a county fair event on Galveston Island, Louthan and other members of the church led 20 people to make a public profession of faith, including a horse whisperer from Louisiana.
Louthan had been a youth minister and held other staff positions in traditional churches for 17 years when he began to feel a call to be a senior pastor.
“I looked at options and decided planting a church is what I would do,” he said. “I got connected to the Texas Fellowship of Cowboy Churches, and that’s how Gulf Coast Cowboy Church was born.”
The jump from traditional church to a cowboy church was not difficult for Louthan, who earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural science from Sam Houston State University and grew up on a farm with animals.
Louthan and his wife, Amy, a librarian, helped solidify their thinking on how to start a cowboy church at the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s New Church Start Boot Camp two years ago.
“The boot camp helped prepare us by exposing us to lots of information,” Louthan said. “We sorted through what we learned to pull out things that would help our unique situation.”
The Fellowship sent the Louthans to the boot camp and paid for their demographic study. Probably the best gift the Fellowship has given them was a $4,000 check at the church’s one-year anniversary, Louthan said. That check was presented on the Sunday before Hurricane Ike hit the Houston area, a day that saw 165 people in worship. The hurricane sent church members scrambling just to make ends meet and attendance dwindled.
“There were a couple of months when people’s lives were just in a mess and the crowds at church were sparse,” he said. “We are just now getting back to a routine. Had we not that $4,000 gift from CBF, I don’t know if we would have survived.”
In addition to the assistance from CBF, Gulf Coast Cowboy Church also got start-up help from Tallowood Baptist Church in Houston and more recently from First Baptist Church, Houston; Highlands Baptist Church, LaMarque, Texas; South Main Baptist Church, Pasadena, Texas; and Williams Trace Baptist Church, Houston.
Since its founding, Louthan estimates he has baptized about one-third of the 120 people who have made a public profession of faith at outreach events.
“Since we do a lot of things outside the church, people that we talk to and lead to Christ may plug into a different church,” he said. “But that’s okay. Our goal is to share the gospel, not to bring more members into our church.”
Gulf Coast is a partner with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, CBF of Texas, and the Baptist General Convention of Texas.
For more information on CBF new church starts, contact David King at firstname.lastname@example.org or (800) 352-8741.
CBF is a fellowship of Baptist Christians and churches who share a passion for the Great Commission and a commitment to Baptist principles of faith and practice. The Fellowship’s mission is to serve Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission.