Sixteen miles northwest of Waco, the Top Hand Cowboy Church rises up with a rodeo arena in front of it. The church hosted the first Western Heritage Roundup Rally on Sun., Nov. 13, the start of the Texas Baptists Annual Meeting in Waco.
The Top Hand Church, pastored by Greg Moore, is one of more than 200 Texas Baptists Cowboy Churches. Started in 2005 with just four families, Moore said the rural church draws 400 through its doors each Sunday. This past Easter, 1,280 gathered to worship. The Neason family started attending Top Hand on Easter 2014.
At that time, there were only 10 “cow kids,” ages 4-12, in the Sunday school, said June Neason. Then last year, the number grew to 30. This year, the church has 75 children enrolled, said June’s daughter, Heather, who teaches in the program.
After a Chuck Wagon brisket dinner provided by the host church, Jason Bryant, the Western Heritage consultant for Texas Baptists, introduced Jeff Tackett, who pastors the Wise County Cowboy Church in Decatur, as the evening’s special speaker. Tackett spoke about the faithfulness of God after music by Branded, a duo with Robert Welch and Paul Staggs from Conroe.
Tackett, dressed in a red plaid shirt, huge rodeo belt buckle, jeans and a tan cowboy hat, told the more than 125 attending that he had come through a season of being really, really sick. He used humor to describe how prostate cancer took him down to 131 pounds. He went through three surgeries, and he said he was now at 172 pounds, proof of God’s faithfulness.
“Through all of that,” he said, “I want to speak about my faithful God.”
Tackett then told about his former pastorate at Denton County Cowboy Church in Ponder. The church had burned down before he was called to pastor it.
“In April 2013, on Easter, we moved back into the building; we baptized 86 people the first year,” he said.
Next, came miracles as the church continued to grow. After much prayer, the church sought to build an indoor arena. In order to do that, though, it needed the 12 acres behind the church.
Then, one day, he got a call from the bank that the acreage was available for $60,000, but the church would have to buy it that week. Meanwhile, a man who had been attending the church had asked to meet Tackett mid-week. He told Tackett he had not been giving to the Lord like he should and wanted to know what the church needed.
Tackett told him about the $60,000, and “the man wrote a check right there. That’s the goodness of the Lord,” said Tackett.
Then, a widow gave the church $980,000 after the sale of her business. The church bought the property and proceeded to build the indoor arena. “God had provided every dime we needed right there,” he said.
“We center all events around Jesus Christ,” Tackett said. “That’s why God is blessing our movement.”
He cited 2 Timothy 2:11-13 about God’s faithfulness.
“Even when we fail and mess up, God is still faithful to us; He cannot fail, cannot lie, cannot lose,” Tackett said.
James 1:12 says there are going to be some trying times, said Tackett. “Remain in the faith.”
Sheila Boggess is a freelance writer covering events for the 131st Texas Baptists Annual Meeting.