The next time you “mosey” through Edgefield, you may want to keep a sharp eye out for cowboys. Pastor David Lyda is “rounding up” a group of them.
“Cowboys for Christ is just a vehicle for evangelism,” Lyda explained. “It’s not necessarily that we get together to have a cowboy church service or anything like that,” the pastor of Little Stevens Creek Baptist Church continued. “What we’re particularly doing is training for evangelism and then planning events that are organized by the group. That’s really the goal of Cowboys for Christ.”
Edgefield isn’t exactly the Wild West. So why start a new chapter of Cowboys for Christ?
“Well, we have several members who are particularly involved in rodeo. That was one part: rodeo and trail riding horses. We also have some who are involved in the dairy and livestock industry,” Lyda said. “I was looking for an organization that would help us reach out to that community, not thinking I was going to be connected to a national group. Then, I found out about Cowboys for Christ,” he said.
Founded in 1970, Cowboys for Christ is a nondenominational ministry, based in Fort Worth, Texas, that reaches out to the livestock industry and cowboy culture — rodeos, trail rides, campfires, hunting, fishing. Participants, however, do not necessarily have to be cowboys or cowgirls, wear cowboy hats, know how to rope cows, or even be able to ride horses to join a chapter. Currently, there are only three chapters in South Carolina.
After presenting the idea to his church and finding some interest, Lyda and the group began officially meeting in January of this year. While the cowboys and cowgirls are not required to be members of Little Stevens Creek, they are expected to be professing believers who are active members of a local church.
“Really, it was trying to figure out something new to be able to disciple the children in the church,” he said. Cowboys for Christ, he added, is just a means to “get the interest of some of the young people and younger families in our church that were already there and be able to disciple them.”
The new chapter will be led by the church’s leadership, and the group will be meeting primarily on the first Sunday evening of each month. Training consists of Bible study, key verse memorization, evangelism tips, open discussions addressing difficult Bible questions, and games. Outreach events typically will be outdoors, such as campfires or cookouts at a local farm.
“It’s not just something fun to do, but there’s a real purpose behind it,” Lyda said. “We are talking about particular ways of sharing Christ and addressing any difficulties one might run into. Really, the training is not just for teams, but it’s training for individuals, too — in understanding how to better share the Good News with others.”
Before each outreach event, a “Round Up” will be held at Little Stevens Creek Church, where new cowboys and ranch hands (children) are initiated into the group. “This is intended to be a churchwide fellowship and commissioning service,” Lyda said.
The group of cowboys and cowgirls seems to be growing. “We’ve been getting a few more people each time that we’ve met,” Lyda said. “We’re probably going to have our first event soon. Our meetings are purposeful, doing training for evangelism and discipleship for these events.”