After years of prayer and planning, Cowboy at the Cross is building a church. Thanks to an anonymous donor, the nonprofit ministry will receive $100,000 via a matching gift -- if it can raise $100,000 by October. Currently, $37,000 has been raised.
Cowboy at the Cross started as a youth ministry focused on one Rodeo Bible Camp over 18 years ago. Now services are held every Sunday morning, and during the summer, Cowboy at the Cross hosts Rodeo Bible Camp, Horse Training Camp, Pony Camp and the last two years, a pop-up Rodeo Bible Camp at Fort Apache, Ariz.
"We've really developed over the years and have outgrown our current facilities," said Shane Kier, church pastor.
Both camp and church started out on the Kiers' property. The camps currently average 60 kids. The Sunday service following camp showcases the campers and what they've learned. Upwards of 300 family and friends fill the property.
Cars line up half a mile down the road.
While several campers come from Louisiana, Texas, and other parts of the U.S., Kier estimated 85 percent are local. These camps are why they now have a church.
"Kids from the camps would accept Christ and then share with their families," explained Kier. "We tried plugging them into existing churches in the area, but they kept coming back."
Services were held in a coverall church until last November when they had to move worship to the Delta Sales Yard. The setup at the Kiers' could only hold 70 and the last several years attendance reached 160-180 people each week.
However, meeting in the sale barn isn't ideal. "You can't really make an altar call in an arena," said Kier. When the donor approached them last spring Kier knew this was their start to expansion.
Financially, they'll be able to put more down on land to start building from the ground up. The group looked at existing churches for rent or purchase but ultimately decided building will work best to maintain the cowboy atmosphere.
The sawdust floors, rustic look and relaxed environment help welcome those from the ranching community who might not otherwise attend. "We invite everyone as they are. We don't want people to feel they can't come straight from the ranch to worship," he said.
Another benefit will be heating and air conditioning. Previous lack didn't stop the church from growing but Kier believes it will encourage more to come.
For example, the youth group still meets on Thursday evenings in the coverall. They average 10-30 youth -- even in February with only propane space heaters.
"Andrew and his wife Sarah have had a pivotal role in helping lead and serve the youth," said Kier. "We want the youth to have a set building they can meet in."
Having both the camp and church services on the same premises will also provide consistency.
To meet all the church's needs, Kier estimates they'll need about 20 acres. They have many buildings, like bunkhouses, and equipment that will be moved from the Kiers' to the new location.
At least three outdoor arenas are planned, and they hope to build an indoor arena to tie directly to the church.
Members are there three to four nights a week riding, roping, and just hanging out. An indoor arena will allow them to invite more people to practices, and to host events throughout the week, even into the winter.
The worship building will accommodate around 350 people. "We don't want to build and run into not having enough space, even if we never reach that number," said Kier.
With only a few weeks left to go till October, Kier and his family are excited to see how God provides the remaining donations needed to meet the matching fund. They believe this is the next step in helping their ministry grow.
Donations for the Cowboy at the Cross building fund can be made by mailing a check to PO Box 7534, Delta, CO 81416. Checks can be made out to "Cowboy at the Cross" and marked for "Building Fund."
Donations can also can be made at www.cowboyatthecross.com or through Go Fund Me at www.gofundme.com/raising-a-church.
"This process is just the tip of the iceberg," said Kier's wife, Amanda. "But we're excited to keep moving forward in faith and are so thankful for our community who's been supporting the ministry."