WHITE COUNTY, Ark. – Take a few steps into the Crossroads Cowboy Church, and you might step in dirt.
“We try to keep things simple and authentic,” Pastor Ron Riddle says.
The church, which features a chapel connected to a rodeo arena, sits along rural Highway 5 near the White County and Lonoke County line.
Pastor Riddle dons a bushy mustache with a cowboy hat and spurs on the back of his boots.
He says five years ago, the church met in a tiny barn across what is now its parking lot. The church quickly found its niche, and five years after gathering for the first time — it has lassoed enough people to fill the arena.
Pastor Riddle preached on horseback to 2,500 this past Easter Sunday.
“Yeah, it’s pretty unique,” Riddle adds. “It just exploded so much faster than even my faith could see.”
The church is now gearing up for another big weekend, and it includes horses and guns.
For the first time, Crossroads Cowboy Church is hosting the Mounted Shooting State Championships. It features cowboys on horseback racing against the clock while shooting patterned targets.
“You got a pistol in one hand and you got reins in the other hand,” Dale Armstrong says.
Armstrong is competing this weekend.
Winners qualify for the national championships in Abilene, Texas later this year.
Catering to the cowboy niche appears to be a biblical bulls-eye for the church, which hopes to reach even more people in their rural community.
“I relate it like this: a lot of churches built a gymnasium on the back of their church to minister to the community,” Riddle says. “Well, we’ve built a rodeo arena on the back of our chapel.”