Jesus spent the majority of his ministry years discipling 12 men. It wasn’t the multitudes that spread God’s church…it was those few disciples, following the model Jesus set, who grew into the worldwide Christian church that changed the course of history.
That’s how SEEDnet church planter Nathan Wells hopes to see God’s church spread in a little-known area of spiritual need: the rodeo. Twenty years ago, Wells was an amateur bull rider. While working another part-time job, Wells rode about 50 bulls in his short but exciting career. Last December, he felt the Holy Spirit’s nudge to visit one of his old friends.
“I felt an overwhelming and uncomfortable feeling in my heart that God wanted me to drive to my friend’s ranch and tell him about SEEDnet,” said Wells. “Professional rodeo cowboys go to 50 to 100 rodeos across the country in five months while trying not to lose their marriages and kids,” he continues. “Many become addicted to pain killers and lead very sexually immoral lifestyles. Most of the professional rodeo cowboys’ earnings are under America’s poverty line and many of them lead a SEEDnet lifestyle similar to those in low income apartment complexes.” (SEEDnet ministers to those in Spiritually, Economically, Emotionally and Developmentally oppressed areas.)
So Wells did just that. “As I was explaining SEEDnet [to my friend], a man who was shoeing a horse behind me stood up, turned around and said: ‘It sounds like you’re talking about me.’”
The man’s name was Greg, a professional rodeo championship roper. Wells soon discovered that Greg had come to Christ at a young age, got lost in the rodeo lifestyle and had recently come back to Christ. “We ended up talking for an hour about rodeo and Jesus,” Wells noted.
They met again the next day and talked for four hours straight – this time, about planting churches in the rodeo. And then they got to work. Making use of the winter “slow season” for rodeo riders, Wells began meeting with Greg on a weekly basis: studying the Bible, riding horses, and praying for the new churches they hoped God would establish.
“We started a church in [Greg’s] house and…he’s led several people to Christ,” notes Wells. “He’s got a Bible study going with several of his friends already.”
Once the rodeo “busy season” starts in May, Greg will start his rodeo tour and spread the news of the Gospel to his rodeo peers. Wells is praying very specifically: for God to move, and for 10 men to come to Christ this season and join Greg in his church planting efforts.
“The idea is to take those 10 people and to do what we just did with one…start Bible studies, preach the gospel to others, and disciple other men. Greg and I can travel to wherever these guys live and empower them to start churches wherever they are at, and then those guys could do the same at different rodeos.”
By starting this multiplication process – man-to-man discipleship after the biblical model given by Jesus, focusing on small groups of people and keeping the Gospel in the center, the potential for results are enormous.
Stay tuned with prayer requests and updates at seednetblog.wordpress.com.
Send Nathan Wells a note of encouragement at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story first appeared in GraceConnect eNews. To subscribe to the weekly e-newsletter that includes news and information from congregations in the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, click here.