A typical Cowboy-Up Sunday service includes a crowd of about 175 people. You will find Bible teaching, prayer and ministry time, but ‘traditional’ church ends when the horse training begins.
The Hillsborough County Fairgrounds has been home to the Cowboy-Up for six years. James ‘Skipper’ Calder, who pastors the ministry, regularly uses visuals in his parable-like teaching. Like Jesus, who told parables to make a specific point, Pastor Skipper often uses animals as part of the story, and to a horse-trainer that means horses.
Pastor Skipper said, “It (Cowboy-Up Ministry) began with the first sermon series I ever preached, How to Control Your Mind. I used a horse to demonstrate that our job as a horse trainer is to control the horse’s mind.” He continued, “People are the same. When our mind is focused on Christ, then we’re trainable.”
Bible study begins at 9 a.m., and horse-training starts at 11 a.m. Cowboy Up services are also broadcasted on Facebook Live. The long-term vision is to continue meeting at the fairgrounds while expanding the broadcast to a larger audience with people around the country re-broadcasting the unique Cowboy-Up message.
“Our main vision is to fish, to lead people to Jesus.” Pastor Skipper continued “But people need a church, and we recommend they go to the church where God leads them. The Cowboy-Up vision is simple: take what God has given us and give it to others. God through us. That is how we become His hands, feet and voice.”
Pastor Skipper also noted, “Too many people have religion and not relationship. The horse represents relationship. People are looking for happiness, but what they really want is peace. For people to have peace, they need to be in their happy place. For many of our people, that’s on a horse.”
To learn more about this ministry, visit www.cowboyupministry.com. County Fairgrounds are located at 215 Sydney Washer Rd. in Dover.