NEWCASTLE—Those who drive southwest of Oklahoma City long enough find themselves in Newcastle, a rural city with a small-town feel. It also happens to be the home of Tri-City Cowboy Church.

Since its first meeting last August, Tri-City has grown rapidly and continues to draw, with anywhere from 130 to 190 people attending.

But what is a cowboy church? It’s simply a church founded with western cultural influences that takes a different approach to church than the traditional persona.

Pastor John Hooser addresses the Tri-City Cowboy Church congregation on a Sunday Morning

One year ago, the Lord started to impress upon Pastor John Hooser’s heart the idea of Tri City Cowboy Church. Hooser served as a Southern Baptist pastor for 14 years then served and retired at a local fire department.

  “I was like Amos, minding my own business when the Lord called me to preach,” said Hooser.

With much prayer and consulting with Randy Proctor, a Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma church planting strategist, Tri-City Cowboy Church became a reality.

“We began to pray, and we didn’t stop. We did not pray for God to send us to a place, but we prayed for God to send us to a people,” said Hooser.

From there, the Lord started opening doors. A member of Tri City Cowboy Church bought a building for the church’s weekly services. Hooser, who lives 200 miles away in Westville, was offered a place to stay on weekends from a church goer, and the Lord didn’t stop there.

“We were a little backwards from all other church plants. Usually you go into a church plant with a core group of people and then build in numbers. We had so many people our first week, and since then we are still trying to build that core group,” explained Hooser with a laugh.

That isn’t the only way Tri-City Cowboy Church does things differently. They don’t have traditional “members” in their church. It is a “come as you are” church that is run by the people of all demographics who attend every Sunday.

Many who attend Tri-City are members at other churches in the area that attend the first service at their church then come to Tri-City for their 11 a.m. service.

“Local pastors like Jeremy Freeman from Newcastle, First have done a great job of endorsing us and encouraging their members to come to our church,” said Hooser.

According to Hooser, some who attend Tri-City are between 70 and 80 years old and have been out of church for 40 years, but since coming to Cowboy Church, they haven’t missed a Sunday.

“Christianity is not a spectators sport,” said Hooser, “God didn’t call everyone to preach, He didn’t call everyone to serve on the mission field, but He did call everyone to do something.”

And that is how Tri-City Cowboy Church operates. It isn’t just a building; it is a place where believers and non-believers gather as family.

“The world is our mission field, but this area right here, whether you’re from Oklahoma City, the tri-city area or a small town, that is your mission field, that is where God has called you,” said Hooser.

Tri-City Cowboy Church meets on Sunday mornings at 3246 NW 32nd Street for an 11 a.m. service with worship led by Colby Young followed by a message from Pastor Hooser.