If you are like me, odds are you’ve never heard of Cowboy Church. Just linking those two words bring to mind all sorts of images. What are you imagining?
I first learned about Cowboy Church from a family in my congregation, one that has been a source of incredible support for me as I have transitioned to Davidson County and Shiloh UMC. I can’t recall how many invitations I politely declined before I finally attended, but I can tell you that my Thursday nights with High Rock Cowboy Church has been an unexpected source of joy and fellowship over the past months.
What ever happened to “community” anyway? The earliest Christian circles certainly understood the value and camaraderie that comes with holding together a group of earnest disciples of Jesus and his Apostles. Acts 2:42–47 explains the communal aspects of the first groups of believers who “were together and had everything in common,” and “broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.”
What a way of life!
There is one thing that the country has over the city: the golf cart ride to the mailbox.
Last fall, Jason Byassee, editor of the Call & Response blog on Faith & Leadership and a contributing editor for The Christian Century, joined us for one of Thriving Rural Communities’ Rural Ministry Colloquia.
During that talk, he shared from his book manuscript, “The Gifts of the Small Church.” A recording of the discussion is available for download on iTunes U.
Jean Vanier is the founder of the L’Arche homes, where persons with developmental disabilities live in community with those of us who are disabled in other ways. Vanier’s book “Community and Growth” is one of the wisest and most profound meditations upon authentic life in community that has ever been written. “Community and Growth” offers countless lesson to rural church leaders, more of which will be shared in this space.
At one point in the book Vanier shares the following quotation from a letter written by Little Sister Madeleine, founder of the Little Sisters of Jesus: