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. 

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

Corky Ellis photo

Let May be a time to show your support

By Will Brunke / Cowboys of the Cross
My wife and I’s most recent visit to worship service this past Sunday yielded some interesting results. While my usual excitement for the weekly message roiled along with the complimentary coffee that is offered in the foyer, the monotone rhythm of the substitute pastor managed to counteract the excitement of the spirit even coupled with the moderate dose of caffeine into submission. Yet, as I dazed in and out of the message, a “God Thing” happened as only He could impose. And during my arousal from a near neck-snapping chin nod, I felt transported sideways into a message entirely as if I was the only one hearing it.

Concerned that my “side message” may be spurious in nature, I attempted to reengage the subject matter and connect the talking points back to the pastors original baseline message. But then yet another anecdotal framing reinforced the first, and another, and another. On the drive home, my wife stopped for fast food and while waiting, we were asked to pull ahead by the curb since our order was slow to materialize. My wife and I then picked up on a conversation cut short earlier and again, I came back to that same sticky thought in my brain.

Then they forgot the spoon for the milkshake.

As I soothed my wife and jokingly reminded her that sometimes the greatest test for a Christian is how we treat the drive-through employees on our way home from church, I stepped out of the truck to secure both the order and humanitarian spirit. But on the ride home, the gears really started turning in my head.
What I write at this moment will come with a disclaimer; Scott Hilgendorff, who was called to lead this ministry full time, knew nothing and knows nothing of what I am about to say. Nor is Scott probably comfortable with my calculated poking of the proverbial “bear(s)”.

And that is the point. Poking you bears. And most of you bears have been hibernating ……right on top of an unrealized gem.

Now as a retired bulll rider, in the nearly 20 years I have known Scott, I have quietly been amazed by him of many things. One point of amazement is a running joke I started and repeat to Scott and others who know Scott personally. Tell me if you’ve heard it: It’s the one about a guy who comes from a diminishingly Christian nation named Canada. He hears the Holy Spirit telling him to abandon everything he knows and go to one of the most populous Christian nations named ‘Merica because there are people in places who haven’t heard the Gospel and some of those who have heard it, were given a false version of it.

This joke for most Christians in America could be considered offensive. It’s like having to sit without interruption while a comedian roasts your wife or child that you were so sure that there was nothing wrong with or funny about. What?? We need missionaries to come from outside the U.S. to spread the Gospel in our own back yards?? Harumph!!

But yes, it’s true. A lot of us absolutely stink at spreading the Good news, proclaiming the Gospel, participating in the Great Commission, and even discipling. Many more treat the sanctuary of the church as barricade from the world rather than a fort to train the Christian soldiers and prepare and discipline them to resist and defeat the evil one who prowls like a lion. (1 Peter 5: 8-10)

And not only has Scott Hilgendorff left his successful professional former life in Canada, Scott has chosen to inhabit the dirt holes and hovels to whence you dare not approach. Scott has not only worn the shoes of the peace of the Gospel, (Eph 6: 10-20) but he bought the extra padded insoles and the snake guards that extend up to the knee and has been like the one crying out in the wilderness, (Isaiah 40: 3-8) in a spiritual battle to save the souls of countless characters –many of ill repute.

While many of us Christians are not equipped or called into missions, in general, the church congregation has adopted a contemptuous view of missional work outside of the quasi-vacations to Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rico, Kenya, etc. We are constantly surrounded by chaos and despair in our own communities but speed past it daily. all the while, after 100’s of known missional studies conducted over the years and a similar number of personal admissions I have witnessed, the most common reactions to first-time foreign missionaries upon their return home are;

“They seem so happy with so little over there” “I didn’t know that the country of _ __ had so many Christians” “I never felt unsafe”

What I am NOT saying is that safety should not be prioritized. I am NOT saying that foreign mission trips are bad. After all, God will send a messenger to his people and there is a plan for every one of us, (Jer 29:11).

What I am saying is that Scott has planted the Christian flag by the encampments of despair where happiness is sometimes fleeting at best. Scott is surrounded by non-believers in stark contrast to the number of professed Christians. Scott has risked his safety many, many, many times. And while there have been many breakthroughs, conversions, and moments of pure joy, the reality of the matter is that through Scott, the Lord has taken a nearly inarable field and brought forth fruit from it.

What I am also saying is that those of us who are familiar with Scott have been given a unique opportunity to support a grassroots mission that few people are called or equipped to succeed in. Not only has Scott persevered, but he has thrived in the environment the Lord led him to and developed a road map for local missions work that is more valuable than the latest and hottest crypto currency but will stand the test of time.

What I am asking is that as many of us as possible should lift up and support our brother who has defended the faith, (1 Peter 3:15) from the likes of false teachers, hollow prosperity, and mere wolves in sheep’s clothing who have perilously outnumbered him.

Scott, at times has had to bear his cross quietly and even at times against resistance from all sides.

I have been to the places I am describing to you. I have seen and heard the atrocities and abominations. And I have also been there when these same perpetrators of hate and sin have made the 2 am phone call to Scott when they had no one else to turn to or were in desperation. Even though Scott was a “Goodie Goodie Missionary” his reputation was beyond reproach and his name was trustworthy. Through John 13:35 Scott has cultivated relationships of love for his neighbors no matter if they were believers or had admonished him for calling sin, sin. I met and was joined by Scott in the days of yore concerning my bull riding career. I was taught and discipled by this man. I in turn taught and discipled.

And yes, when I say, “lift up and support” I mean give. Financially support a ministry that has boots on the ground of the lowly corners of despair where the lost gather together unaware of their own peril and sometimes just horribly misinformed. And where opportunists prey openly and spiritual warfare aims to keep any unity and understanding scattered like seed thrown for the birds to eat.

Please consider making May 2024 the month you commit to our brother in the faith.
Be Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity
Don’t be Proverbs 17:16 Why should a fool have money in his hand to buy wisdom when he has no sense.

Tax deductible donations, tithes and offerings are administered for Cowboys of the Cross through a church in Lewisburg, TN. Tax deductible donations can be sent to LifeSong Family Church, 1041 S. Ellington Pkwy, Lewisburg, TN, 37091. Checks should be made out to LifeSong Family Church with a note in the envelope that it is for Cowboys of the Cross or rodeo missions.

Contributions can also be made online at https://www.lifesongfamily.org

Your fees are NOT paid without a saving faith in Jesus

By Scott Hilgendorff / Cowboys of the Cross Fly high cowboy, your fees are paid. Using some form of that phrase when someone in the rodeo cowboy crowd has died is fairly common. The problem is, most people don’t really understand what they’re saying and it creates the false impression that we call go to Heaven when we die. I see it used by people I thought knew differently but they continually place a cowboy in Heaven who almost certainly didn’t enter that rodeo. How can you say that? How can you know for sure? That’s judgmental. Well, the reason I can say it with almost certainty is because I’d had an open and frank conversation with that person in question and he made it clear to me he didn’t believe in Jesus and wasn’t interested in it. He was someone I got along with and was explaining why he didn’t come to cowboy church at the rodeos we were often at together because he didn’t want me thinking it was personal. He made a lot of sinful or what I would consider “dumb” choices at best, but he was a nice guy who was well-loved by all those he partied with every weekend. And sure, one never knows what happens privately between a person and God but we’re also told in scripture that when someone has a genuine, saving faith in Jesus, there will be fruit. Fruit are changes in a person’s life that show Christ and the Holy Spirit in them is moving them away from sin and into a life that’s more holy. By holy, we mean more Christ-like by how we see Jesus in the Bible John 15:8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. That made it that much harder personally when he died. It’s important to understand God can draw someone to Him at any time and there’s no telling what happened in his last moments, but the reality is, not only did he not believe, but he openly rejected Christianity. So how can so many people put him in Heaven?

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Email: cowboysofthecross@gmail.com

Contact Us

Phone: 865_293_2668

Email: cowboysofthecross@gmail.com

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

New devotions/teaching right here every other Thursday

Where to find us

May 25 Greenville, TN, Bull Riders and Outlaws bull riding, cowboy church

Scott is found at events sanctioned by the Southern Extreme Bull Riding Association, the Bull and Outlaws Association, the National Cowboys Association.

They can also sometimes be found at PBR Velocity Tour events, International Professional Rodeo Association events  and others.

Testimony: Dave McKissick, Jasper, GA

Rodeo photographer tells his story of coming to faith

Strength: Cowboy Strong, God Honoring

Part Nine, God has a plan for you that needs your strength

A special series from Cowboys of the Cross

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.

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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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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