By Riley Robertson, Contributing Writer
At Archer City Cowboy Church, a group of people who desire a closer walk with Jesus gathers each week. The 30 people who have been baptized in the past year are evidence of their faithfulness to share the Gospel.
“There’s nothing greater than watching someone who walked through the doors of our church grow in the Lord,” said Paula Allen, who started Archer City Cowboy Church with her husband Rick a little over a year ago.
Rick Allen is originally from Archer City, a community just south of Wichita Falls, but a variety of jobs, both in the oil field and in pastoral ministry, took he and Paula to places like Kansas, North Dakota, Montana, and other spots in Texas. Eventually, they made it back to Archer City, where Rick took up a job with the Sheriff’s Department and Paula worked at Oodles Supermarket, a local grocery store. Archer City is a smaller town, and they know the people there well.
“If you forgot what you did yesterday, just ask somebody,” Rick joked. “They’ll tell you what you did.”
Faith rises from hardships
They got to know the community even better after a few events. In March 2017, Paula’s stepfather passed away. He was the last parent between the couple. Then in July, one of Paula’s friends passed away from cancer. Her friend had lived in the community for more than 20 years, and Paula helped raise money from people in the area for the funeral. Shortly after that, in December of the same year, one of Rick’s friends passed away as well. Rick was asked to do the funeral, and people were impressed with his ability to preach and facilitate during such difficult circumstances.
It would take months to process the loss of such close friends and family members. During the grieving, Paula and Rick stood out as pillars of hope in the community, pointing people to Jesus when it was easier to look nearly anywhere else. They bonded even more with the community they already knew so well. In January of the following year, Paula knew it was time to start a church.
Rick and Paula worked through Texas Baptists Church Starting, funded, through gifts to the Cooperative Program to plant Archer City Cowboy Church.
“They’re out there meeting people, reaching out to people, and baptizing people,” said Mateo Rendon, Texas Baptists church starter. “That’s what it’s all about.”
Although they had no difficulty getting out in the community, they did have some trouble finding a place to meet. They worshipped in one place for three weeks, another place for a week, and eventually, the local American Legion allowed them to use their facilities until they were able to move into a building on Main Street recently.
While securing a meeting place was challenging, the church did not hesitate to baptize friends and neighbors who professed faith in Christ. In the past year, they have baptized about 30 people.
“As soon as it warms up, we’ll pass the 40 mark,” Paula said.
One Sunday, the Allens put the horse trough they use for baptisms in the back of their trailer and filled it with chilly water. Nineteen people were baptized that day. But it was not only special because so many people stepped into that horse trough, it was also special because the first one to be baptized was their 10-year-old son Zechariah.
After Zechariah was baptized, 18 people followed, including three whole families. Then, about 11 more people were baptized in the months following. It is clear that God is working in and through Archer City Cowboy Church.
People are indeed getting closer to the Lord and growing at Archer City Cowboy Church, so much so, that the Allens joked that they have too many people volunteering to serve. Their morning and evening services have been long and engaging. They mentioned that one Sunday morning, they planned to sing five songs and ended up singing 10.
“We have people who have known the Lord their whole lives,” Paula said. “They say they don’t think they’ve ever experienced church the way it is at our church.”
To add to the presence they have already developed, Archer City Cowboy Church intends to purchase land in the area to build a building for worship, fellowship, and a facility where they can have kids bring their horses to ride. Ultimately, their desire is to see more come to faith in God and grow through discipleship.
“We see so many people growing in the Lord and getting stronger in the Lord,” Rick said. “People are getting stronger in the Lord all the time. That is my main desire—that they would get closer to the Lord and that it would never stop.”
Gifts to the Texas Baptists Cooperative Program and Mary Hill Davis Offering fund Church Starting efforts like Archer City Cowboy Church, engaging unreached people with the Gospel. To learn more about Texas Baptists Church Starting, visit texasbaptists.org/churchstarting or call 214.828.5217.