Cowboys of the Cross

Welcome to Cowboys of the Cross: your resource for Christian cowboys. Cowboys of the Cross has been providing cowboy church for the rodeo and cowboy community for more than 15 years. The website is your source for stories of faith and encouragement as well as devotions and news and information affecting cowboys of faith. Cowboys of the Cross leads cowboy church at rodeos and bull ridings in both Ontario, Canada and across the north and southeastern United States. 

From the Rodeo arena to the ranch, how you can help Ukraine

To support the mission

Cowboys of the Cross is a full time ministry shepherded by Scott Hilgendorff (His testimony can be found below). Like other missionaries, Scott relies on the generous support of private donors to carry out the work of the Great Commission within the rodeo and cowboy culture. Donations are managed through LifeSong Family Church in Lewisburg, TN. To give online, please click the button, selecton online giving and please choose Cowboys of the Cross from the dropdown menu. To give via mail, please make checks payable to LifeSongFamily Church but include a note that it is for “rodeo ministry.” Donations can be sent to LifeSong Family Chuch, 1041 S. Ellington Pkwy
Lewisburg, TN  37091

Subscribe to our Monthly Newsletter for Stories and Updates

 

Simply email us your name, email address and the word “subscribe” and we’ll send you the monthly stories and encouragements not found here

 

Email: Scott@cowboysofthecross.com

Contact Us

 

Phone: 865_293_2668

 

Email: Scott@cowboysofthecross.com 

 

Mail: Cowboys of the Cross, 3710 Warden Branch Lane, Gatlinburg, TN, 37738

New devotions every other Thursday

Where to find us

May 21  Greenville, TN, Bull Riders and Outlaws, cowboy church.

May 27, Rural Retreat, VA, SEBRA bull riding, cowboy church

Triple T Practice Pen–we will lead cowboy church at this venue as Sunday practices are announced.

Scott/Cowboys of the Cross can be found at Spur’n S Rodeos with the National Cowboy Association and he serves as the Chaplain for the Southern Extreme Bull Riding Association, often found at their sanctioned events.  He can also be found at PBR Velocity Tour events, International Professional Rodeo Association events  and others.

In all your ways...

In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths — Proverbs 3:6
A Cowboy of the Cross believes God comes first and strive to follow His leading from a desire that comes from the knowledge of the cost of our salvation, paid for by Jesus Christ through is death on the cross. Through a saving and repentant faith in Jesus and the knowledge of his resurrection, we know God has forgiven our sins and will take us home to Heaven when our time here is done. Through God’s grace, we’ll get through the mistakes we make and grow more like Christ with study of Scripture, time in prayer and learning to hear God and following the leading of the Holy Spirit.

How we treat our animals or handle a loss shows our hearts

By Scott Hilgendorff / Cowboys of the Cross

How we treat a drive thru worker when the wait is long or the order is messed up.

How we handle a person trying to merge in front of us in heavy traffic.

What we do with our shopping cart when we leave the store.

How we treat our animals, the ones that are worth the least, or nothing.

How we spend the drive home after we’ve bucked off or missed our catch at the rodeo.

Jeremiah 17:9-10 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”

Thankfully, through repentance, seeking forgiveness from God and a saving faith in Jesus, God will no longer condemn us for the words, thoughts and actions that come from our hearts.

Once saved, God begins to change us through the Holy Spirit in us and though we’ll never be perfect, we begin to change how we handle ourselves and each other in this life.

How we respond or navigate in each of the described situations can be a good heart check as we try to work out our salvation or want to see just how far we still have to go to be more like Jesus.

We can be fully engaged in rodeo while fully engaged with God

By Scott Hilgendorff / Cowboys of the Cross

From teachings from Jesus, Paul and Peter to how God instructed the Israelites to remain separate from the other cultures around them, the Bible shows us in many ways that we are not meant to be a part of the world and culture around us.

The Israelites were commanded to completely destroy entire nations and when they failed to do so, they experienced the consequences of it.

Judges 2:1-3 The angel of the Lord … said, “I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land I swore to give to your ancestors. I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you, 2 and you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their altars.’ Yet you have disobeyed me. Why have you done this? 3 … they will become traps for you, and their gods will become snares to you.’”

By allowing some of the nations to survive, the Israelites were eventually influenced by their false gods and beliefs, leading them to stray from following God and eventually to God temporarily taking the Promised Land away from them and exiling them for 70 years to Babylon. God wasn’t fooling around when He said He wants all of our attention.

1 John 2:15-17 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever”

Worldly things can be just about anything from money and sex to filling a tack room with more equipment than we’ll ever be able to use. All of it is temporary. Instead, John is reminding us that we need to pursue God, who, through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, made a way for all of us to be able to repent and be forgiven of our sin so that through belief in Jesus, we could have an eternity in Heaven. Pursuing our own desires based on what the culture around us tells us we need or wants, takes our attention away from God.

Be doers of the word (part 13)

How do we approach success as Christians?

A special monthly series with our ranch hand Josh McCarthy

Will you only ever see yourself as a rodeo cowboy, bull rider or ranch hand or will you see yourself as an adopted son of God?

By Jesse Horton / Cowboys of the Cross

Why doesn’t everyone who calls themselves a Christian, carry out the Great Commission–the command from Jesus to tell others about him and then to go on to teach those who become follower’s of Christ? For a lot of cowboys and bull riders in the rodeo arena, it seems like their faith begins and ends with cowboy church and the prayer at the opening of the show.

So what is it that separates disciple-making Christians (those whose obvious faith in Jesus is taught to and reproduced in others) and all the rest who simply believe in God and assume they get to make heaven their eternal home but never really demonstrate much personal spiritual growth or reproduction? I used to think it was commitment – something each individual is responsible to produce for themselves; if you weren’t growing up into Christian maturity and making disciples of Jesus, it was because you weren’t committed enough. Deep down, though, I knew that even that kind of commitment was a gift from the Holy Spirit. But if that’s the case, why don’t all professing believers – those who are filled by the Holy Spirit – eventually demonstrate that life-changing commitment?

The answer to that question, I believe, is two-fold. First and most obviously, some professing believers are not really believers.

Even the demons believe in God (James 2:19), but that kind of belief – the type that denies and covets God’s sovereign kingship – won’t get a single human soul into heaven. In John 3 Nicodemus believed Jesus to be “a teacher come from God” based on the signs Jesus did, but Jesus condemned him for failing to understand that being born of the Spirit was of necessity for anyone to enter the kingdom of heaven. Pilate believed Jesus to be the king of a kingdom, yet denied that there is any type of objective truth (John 18:37-38) – you know, the type of truth Jesus acknowledged when he said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). None of these examples believed and were saved as a result. The point is there are categories of belief that do not result in salvation. You can believe in God and never make it to Heaven.

Truly understanding God’s love for us is life-changing

By Jesse Horton / Cowboys of the Cross I find myself in awe moment by moment as I contemplate the consistent love of God. In fact, because God is immutable (he does not change; Malachi 3:6), in everything we know to be an attribute of God he is consistent. He is...
TESTIMONY – Jesse McCarthy, Forsyth, MT – A broken relationship led to a real relationship with Jesus

TESTIMONY – Jesse McCarthy, Forsyth, MT – A broken relationship led to a real relationship with Jesus

Hello, I’m Jesse McCarthy. I competed as a bull rider for 10 years, first in a local state circuit then in the PRCA. Currently I work on a ranch in Southeastern Montana, my boss is a former elder of the church I attend and I am blessed to have the opportunity to build a cattle herd of my own. In October 2021 God blessed me with the opportunity to marry an amazing woman who has a heart for God and His Church. I grew up in Wisconsin where I was raised going to church and reading the bible on a regular basis. I was baptized at the age of 13 and though I believed in God and that Jesus died on the cross for my sins, I didn’t develop a true relationship and start to mature in my faith till I was in my late 20s. Even though I believed, called myself a Christian, and went to church, I still liked to drink, pursue women in an ungodly way and do the whole rodeo after party scene. One of the events God used to show me how much I needed to trust and obey him with my life happened in my late 20’s. I was praying about getting engaged to the girl I was dating at the time and God spoke to my heart telling me not to do it. Well, not liking His answer I went ahead and got engaged. Three months later the relationship ended. I was hurt by this but what hurt more was knowing that I purposefully disobeyed God. This was a huge turning point in my life and it pushed me to get me back into reading my bible for wisdom and direction so I would be able to discern His guidance and instruction for my life. By reading the Bible more I realized I needed to be a doer and not just a hearer of the word like it says in James 1:22-25. With the help of my brother Josh McCarthy and some other fellow Christians I have grown more in my faith, and understanding of what it means to be a doer and to live that out each day. God has transformed me from a guy who hoped he didn’t reek to much like alcohol at church to someone who has asked to preach on occasion and who shares a devotion and leads the...

If someone asks at the rodeo why you’re a Christian, do you have an answer?

If someone at a rodeo sees your cross necklass or the Bible verse written on your vest or someone asks you at the ranch while you’re reading a Bible as you eat your lunch, “Why are you a Christian?” are you ready to give an answer?
Is that answer going to come from thoughts and ideas you have about God or is it going to come from truths you know right from Scripture? Your answer will do one of three things: point someone to a real truth about salvation through Jesus Christ, point them completely away from Christianity altogether that leads them to eternal suffering or provide an answer about having ‘faith’ and being ‘good’ that gives them false hope that still leads to eternal suffering.
What kind of hope do you have for yourself? Is it one grounded in the truth of what Jesus did for us on the cross with a repentant heart and a secure understanding of a saving faith in Jesus? What kind if hope do you want to offer others?
1 Peter 3:15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,
Telling others about Jesus so they can know him should motivate you.

Meet our Teachers / Preachers and Site Contributors

Keith Miller

Keith Miller

Keith Miller grew up in a strict Amish home in Indiana until discovering the freedom of an independent relationship with Jesus Christ. As a bull rider, he met his wife Natalie and together, they have a daughter Gracelyn and have settled in Westport, Indiana. Keith...

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Scott Hilgendorff

Scott Hilgendorff

Scott heads up Cowboys of the Cross, a ministry dedicated to bringing cowboy church to rodeos and bull ridings across North America but with a focus on discipleship. The ministry evolved out of Riding for Christ Ministries, the name which Scott operated under for more...

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James and Jenn Douma

James and Jenn Douma

Hey everyone, my name is James Douma. I have been involved with the rodeo for the past several years. I am a full time firefighter in Ontario during the week and ride bucking horses on the weekend. I am married to an amazing woman named Jenn and together we have a...

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Josh McCarthy

Josh McCarthy

Howdy! My name’s Josh McCarthy and I compete in saddle bronc riding in the PRCA and I’m the youngest of five from northeastern Wisconsin.  I grew up in a Christian home and went to church every Sunday. I accepted Christ into my life when I was little but I didn’t...

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Jim Bull

Jim Bull

I grew up always praying before meals and hearing that our friends that passed were in heaven. However, I never felt I knew who God was and definitely didn't have a relationship with Him. I lived my life thinking if I seemed like a good person, then I must be a good...

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Jesse Horton

Jesse Horton

I was 'raised Christian.' I can't remember a time before I was 10 years old that I wasn't a church-goer, though I remember several years of my teens where my family didn't attend church. I confessed my sin and my need for Christ when I was eight years old, but I do...

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