David Farris, a church pastor in Alabama, was competing at a Cowboy Mounted Shooters Association event when he was asked to lead a church service.
The CMSA brings together individuals and clubs in a competition of speed and accuracy as they navigate through a course of 10 balloon targets, firing at each target with a pair of handguns loaded with blanks.
“These people are from all over the country,” Farris said. “Most of the competitors are gone almost every weekend to a different club or state, so they don’t have a home church but still want to be a part of God’s family.”
As time went on, Farris was invited to more competitions, and in turn, was asked to preach at more events.
“After a few years, we were being invited to more of these events, and it was taking us away from the church,” Farris said. “The congregation was very supportive, and they became a part of this ministry. We knew that God was placing us here for a reason, so we resigned from the church so they could have someone that was devoted to them totally.”
That is when Farris and his wife, Jill, transitioned from pastoring in a traditional setting to pastoring a mobile group of competing cowboys.
“From that point, the ministry began,” Farris said. “I compete on a regular basis and my wife is starting to again also. The people we get to meet and share time with are from all over the country. We don’t have a regular meeting time or building, and some people I see only a few times a year. Most of the time, our cowboy church service is in the arena — sometimes in the barn area or a side room. I have preached from the back of a truck, on a trailer, on the dirt, but mostly from the back of a horse.”
Traveling as frequently as CMSA competitors do can be lonely. Farris not only helps provide spiritual support for the competitors, but he aims to offer a church family for them too.
“Our ministry has been to make everyone feel welcome and share God’s grace and mercy with them,” Farris said. “To those that hunger for a church family while on the road, we have strived to make that happen. To those that don’t know the Lord, we have spent the past few years trying to just become friends with them and share the love and kindness of our Lord.”
Farris wants everyone to allow God to use their passions to reach the lost the way God used his.
“I encourage those in the body of Christ to take their hobbies and interests and use them to share the wonderful grace of our Lord,” Farris said. “God has taken what was a hobby and turned it into a ministry and has given us a unique church. We have been blessed with an amazing ministry.”