Anyone who has ever visited Greenville, Texas, for a buck out, roping, high school rodeo finals, barrel races or any kind of equine event, knew what the "blue barn" was, or better known as the "Horseman's Club".
For many years, the Horseman's Club was known as the bar to watch the arena events. For the last few years though, the location was vacant, but in 2012 it went on sale again.
That all changed in July 2012, with a core group of 12 individuals and the sponsoring support of Bull Creek Cowboy Church, American Fellowship of Cowboy Churches, Hunt Baptist Association and Texas Baptists, the building was contracted and purchased and Top Rail Cowboy Church was born.
"God had been using me for about five years as a bandleader at Ridin' High Cowboy Church in Union Valley," said Charlie Nassar, pastor of Top Rail Cowboy Church. "I was very happy and blessed in that ministry but felt the call that He had something else in mind for me."
Shortly after the opening of the church, Walt Birney and his wife, Theresa, approached Charlie about having a benefit ranch rodeo for Junior Bullard, a friend who had cancer. With everyone pitching in and repairs made, over 500 people from the area came through the arena and church that day.
With the success of the benefit, the group of 12 decided to use the event to launch its first Sunday service. After much anticipation and prayer for their first service, Top Rail Cowboy Church had 89 in attendance their first Sunday Service and now average around 165 each Sunday.
"It's the right culture," said Terry Yoston, member at Top Rail Cowboy Church. "It's the right personality for me and my family. It's absolutely great."
In the last four weeks, they have had 25 baptisms (11 rededications and 14 salvations). During the first week they only had two scheduled, but as the holy spirit moved through the congregation, nine more came and were baptized within the first week.
Those baptized ranged from children to a 65-years-old. "That's God working through our entire church to make things like that happen," said Nassar.
At Top Rail Cowboy Church, anyone has the opportunity to grow in the Lord as He leads. They are an easy going congregation that does not believe worship has to be put in a box. They try to make church fun but they do not water down His word, its a simple message with a cowboy twang.
"This is my extended family," said Heather Johnson, member of Top Rail Cowboy Church. "It is my home away from home. This is the place where I can come and praise God and be myself praising him."
"God is working through our church to clear a path for His works," said Nassar.
As they say at Top Rail, "Hoof prints in the arena puts cowboys and cowgirls on their knees."
For more information on Top Rail Cowboy Church, visit toprailcowboychurch.com. For more information on Western Heritage, visit texasbaptists.org/evangelism-missions/western-heritage-ministry.