A Sidekick's Blog

Alternate Churches? | November 4, 2012

So today I visited a local “Cowboy Church.” I would never have bothered ordinarily, but my extremely talented but chronically unemployed and more often than not homeless brother mentioned that he’s playing guitar in their worship services. Always looking out for him (and because no one else in our family cares), I went to the “Cowboy Church” to see him. I also wanted to make sure he wasn’t just being exploited by some sophisticated manipulator who will discard him after he has no more use for my brother’s talents, as has happened a few times in the past.

My brother did an awesome job on the guitar as always, but this time there less of my brother in the music and more genuine focus on the Lord and on worship. It was good to see that. That’s what I went there for. I took part in the singing whole-heartedly as always, but couldn’t agree so whole-heartedly with the presumptive content of the public prayers, nor with the all-over-the-place sermon content. If there was a sermon outline or notes hidden on the pulpit somewhere to guide the preaching, I’d bet the pastor didn’t follow them. There was no exegesis of the Scripture, only the typical “proof texting” so typical of evangelical preaching and teaching. But it was a courageous sermon (well, perhaps not so much given it was delivered in that company of conservative Republican churchgoers) about the believer’s duties of citizenship in both the kingdom of God and the United States of America.

So we’ve got gay churches, hiphop churches, rock’n’roll churches, surfer churches, and now cowboy churches. All aimed at a particular subculture and catering to their cultural idiosyncrasies. Maybe I’ll start one just for scuba divers, and hold services underwater. Or maybe a whole conglomerate of dance churches. One for ballet, one for Tap, one for Ballroom, the whole gambit. All it takes is a mail-order ordination from any of several ordination mills and/or a membership fee to whoever dreamed up the association of fill-in-the-blank “churches” to affiliate with and lend legitimacy to one’s ministry. Today’s cowboy pastor was not seminary trained, though he did take a 60-hour course from some bible school and his ordination from one of those “associations” that purports to be “just like a denomination,” except that no one knows what they believe about anything or who is accountable to whom and for what – other than annual membership dues.

“We provide an alternative to traditional churches for people who can’t relate to church as we have known it. We can reach those people for Christ in a way that traditional churches can’t,” they claim. Yet today’s visit was to any typical evangelistic / baptistic church, except for the cowboy trappings. The pastor wore jeans and a vest and a big black Stetson, which he removed only to pray. Lassos and saddles and other tack hung on the walls and from the rafters. A cowbell hung from a rustic lectern and rung softly every time the pastor leaned against the podium as he preached, pacing the floor and rambling without any apparent sermon outline. And of course, a cowboy-modified altar call.

Look for my next post, entitled The Government of God, for a look at what makes a real church and why “alternatives” are unbiblical and dangerous. Originally written as a rebuttal to those who argue that they can worship without church and don’t need church and that church is optional anyway, this article shows us from the Scriptures why church membership is not optional, and what a true church looks like. Accept no substitutes!

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2 Comments »

  1. Wait, you mean there is something like an order to worship that we are to follow? That we aren’t to style the liturgy based on our felt needs? Oh that won’t fly at all next your going to say that we have to base it on scripture or something. ;^{D

    Comment by keachfan — November 4, 2012 @ 11:15 pm

  2. There’s no “Like” button, so here’s my like, Keachfan!

    Comment by adoptedsidekick — November 4, 2012 @ 11:34 pm


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