Article by Keith Knepp, Staff Writer
Pastor Carl Adams believes many people are looking for something different in their worship experience. He also believes he has something to offer that is unique to the community.
Welcome to cowboy church.
“I believe people are looking for something outside the box,” said Adams. “Cowboy church is a unique opportunity for people to worship in a casual, friendly atmosphere.”
The services are come as you are. Everyone is welcome, regardless of whether or not you own cowboy boots or a cowboy hat.
Currently, services are held at 6 p.m. every third Sunday at the Magical Meadows, 3386 East 525 North, Warsaw. The next scheduled gathering is April 13.
As the congregation grows, Adams would like to have the service every other week and eventually every Sunday evening. They also are in the process of building a small chapel that will be open for meditation and personal reflection.
Rooted in western American culture, cowboy churches often have been held in stockyards, barns, ranches and fields. During the last two decades, the movement of the cowboy church has spread to every corner of the country. It currently is the fastest growing church in the U.S. with more than 1,000 known assemblages according to Greg McDougal, founder of the Tennessee based Work of a Carpenter Ministries. McDougal has taken his music ministry to more than 600 cowboy churches in the past seven years.
“Around 25-30 years ago, some pastors in Texas saw that the men working the rodeo circuit were going unchurched,” said McDougal. “They started holding church at rodeos on Sunday mornings to reach those men who ordinarily wouldn’t step foot in a church.”
Back in Warsaw, Adams’ cowboy church held its first service in October 2013 with a handful of worshipers. The last service attracted 35 people and Adams is encouraged and excited about its growth. His goal is to have at least 250 join the congregation. The services currently are held inside the activities center but as the weather gets warmer he hopes to move to the larger outdoor arena. He has invited several different local pastors to lead the worship and does not want the focus to be on him.
Adams noted music is an important part of the cowboy church service. The local cowboy church blends hymns of the past with contemporary praise music. Adams currently is seeking musicians to be part of the worship team. Anyone interested can contact him at (574) 265-3092.
A native Hoosier, Adams grew up in Monticello. About 12 years ago, he and his family moved back to Indiana from Memphis, Tenn., to be closer to his parents, who still live in Fort Wayne. He has served 30 years as a pastor in Assembly of God churches, but emphasizes the cowboy church is not rooted in any specific doctrine or particular denomination.
“The services are Biblically based and are for people searching for more than the typical Sunday morning experience,” said Adams. “The cowboy church provides a wonderful evening of fellowship and getting back to feeling the openness of God’s presence.”