By Sheila Allen
NW Baptist Convention
The rich landscape of the Skagit Valley captivates the spirit of the Northwest Washington residents who cherish wild coastlines, flourishing farmlands and immense forests. Many who call the rural, open valley home are immersed in a culture of horsemanship and trail riding, hidden from the metropolitan areas within easy driving distance.
“There are around 1,000 riding clubs west of the Cascades,” said Tim Moore, who is staking a claim for the spiritual needs of those who are passionate about horses. “The riding clubs in the area represent 50,000 people, and many have arenas with nice facilities to meet together.”
Moore developed a strategy to engage the people in riding clubs called C4 – Cross Country Cowboy Church — a network of weeknight gatherings called “outposts” that include meals, music, worship and connecting that accommodates the lifestyles weekend horsemanship.
“We had quick access to people by participating with riding clubs and volunteering to work on trails,” Moore said. “They have open rides where anyone can come, with multiple events happening every week. Trail riding is huge here and other judged events happen regularly. My wife, Melissa, and I live a half mile from the rodeo in Sedro Woolley.”
Several arena owners with facilities for up to 50 people have willingly stepped up to host Moore’s outposts, eliminating the need for rented or permanent quarters. The Moores, who share a background in cowboy culture, have started three outposts since January and over 150 people have committed their lives to Jesus since that time.
“They live and breathe horses on the weekend,” Moore noted. “It’s all expensive and these folks invest a lot of their income and themselves to it. Having a meal makes it possible for working people and children are included in what we do. We partnered with local horse trainers to provide a three day ‘horsey’ camp and training for so the kids could work on their skills. Out of 10 kids that attended, seven prayed to receive Christ.”
The ministry is currently being supported as a new church plant through the Northwest Baptist Convention and the North American Mission Board. Moore supplements his income with work as a tile and stone mason, while Melissa works in family services, but their desire is give 100 percent of their time to the cowboy church effort.
“More people are asking us to do these outposts,” Moore stated, “and it is more than we can handle. We need other missionaries to join us.”
Coming alongside the couple is First Baptist Church of nearby Hamilton, WA.
“We have one of our outposts that meet at their facility, and 10 people from that church are on our team to launch our next location,” Moore said. “I can’t express what a blessing they have been to us. Pastor Ron and Beth Edwards really caught the vision and are 110 percent behind us.”
Moore boldly shares the gospel at outpost gatherings and gives an invitation to accept Christ. Some mature believers have joined the effort to help teach and lead, according to Moore. A discipleship program Moore also developed called “groundwork” is used to develop new believers.
“Gary Irby has given me help that has been invaluable,” Moore said of the NWBC church planting
director. “He was a mentor to me when I served in the Northwest before and we meet two times a month.”
Melissa Moore coordinates the weekly dinners — hearty, simple meals considered cowboy fare and include soups, dumplings and other one-pot meals.
“I do the shopping and prep work, and a few others join to help before meal time,” Melissa said. “We ask people to bring dessert, something simple they can contribute.”
Meanwhile, Moore is working and praying toward multiplication. He connected with Shawn Snyder, pastor of Living Hope Church in Medford, OR, another region with an affinity for riding clubs and ‘horse’ people.
“They saw how they could use this as their multiplication effort,” Moore said. “They already had people in their church that are part of riding clubs. Pastor Shawn described what we do as ‘going where people already are and they’re tripping over Jesus.’ People like the casual atmosphere, and we need to tap into this vast sub-culture.”
Contact Moore at [email protected] for more information regarding cowboy church ministry.
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