Cowboy Churches usually don’t have gymnasiums or ceramics classes. Rather than basketball or skate night cowboy churches host team roping, bull riding, barrel racing and other rodeo sports. The youngsters enjoy “mutton bustin” (sheep riding) until they are big enough to sit a saddle on their own. According to those who attend, Cowboy Church most often appeals because dress codes don’t exist, and the music is worshipful but it is country. With common decency applied, you really can “come as you are.”
We all know people who say: “I’m spiritual, but I do not believe in organized religion.” Most of them are women. This usually means they read a little Buddhism, delve into some of the latest books about spirituality, and might even do yoga. They are determined to pilot their own boats over the spiritual waters.
“Excitement and ignorance” can get you halfway through any project. Most projects, events, or relationships begin with great enthusiasm and anticipation, but about halfway through, the excitement has to turn into determination and commitment, and ignorance has to turn to strategy, planning, and knowledge if the thing is to succeed.
Problems arise in the life of faith when we begin to regard the salvation experience as our destination. When this happens our personal experience with the Holy One can easily become the standard that we lay upon other persons. Unknowingly, the salvation moment evolves into a goal to be achieved. This is an enormous error of faith, because salvation is something God offers to all persons; it is not a personal achievement. As a gift of the Divine, our lives after the salvation experience should reflect our efforts to live faithfully to the way of love and peace that God intends for all people.
When religion in daily life is addressed, the issue of authenticity vs. artificiality must be also addressed. Many people incorrectly believe that the practice of religion has little to do with real life.
We have called forgetting a weakness that should be avoided, but this is an art ascribed to God. The writer of Hebrews says, “… their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” If a person repents of sins and rightly seeks divine forgiveness, the record of misbehavior is not only crossed off the books of Heaven, but God actually allows it to pass completely from His memory. This ability that God shows us is so great that a good moral man and a terribly sinful man are placed alike in forgiveness.
Sunday School has a rich tradition in my denomination, The United Methodist Church. Even before the Sunday School movement started, our founder, John Wesley, formed spiritual accountability groups called Holy Clubs, which practiced spiritual disciplines of prayer, study, and mutual care for one another, When Methodism came to America, the Sunday School movement was taking hold in a number of denominations, and it became an essential part of the ministry of the Methodist church.
“Would you like a cup of tea, pastor?” The very question made me a little uncomfortable. I drink hot tea occasionally, but not usually with a group of finely dressed women, softly clacking their china cups and saucers together, smearing a slightly different lipstick color on each rim, hair perfectly coiffured, fragrances wafting through the air, a tin of cookies on the table.
I am continually amazed at how distorted and misunderstood the gospel of Jesus Christ has become in our community. Professing Christians and non-Christians alike can give you bits of information about Christ’s life. They can tell about the God of the Bible, but they do not know the God of the Bible. They can tell you about Christ, but they do not really know Christ.