"It gives me a night not be to home alone and to hear God's Word and the beautiful music and hear Ron share about what he's doing for troubled kids," said Cole.
Reasons for 2nd Chance Cowboy Church
The "Ron" Cole refers to is Ron Silverman, founder and president of 2nd Chance Corp. A primary goal of his nonprofit is to one-day launch a faith-based school in Solon Township for at-risk teens. It will be aptly named 2nd Chance School, harkening to Silverman's belief that troubled teens deserve another opportunity to get their lives on track.
The school will rely on biblical training, traditional classroom topics and a stable of horses to help them regain their footing in life and teach them a work ethic, hence the equestrian focus to the school.
2nd Chance School remains a work in progress. Silverman's nonprofit purchased the former Calvary Assembly of God church at 810 17 Mile Rd. in Solon Township and its accompanying six acres on 17 Mile Road that will be used as an alternative year-round Christian school. Once operational, it will teach 30 boys and girls at a time.
Silverman also in the thick of finding ways to raise the $375,000 needed to construct a 20,000-square foot barn that will house the 18 horses 2nd Chance School needs to teach teens a work ethic and problem-solving skills.
Meanwhile, Silverman and his wife, Patti, initiated the 2nd Chance Cowboy Church in November 2015.
What is Cowboy Church?
The term "Cowboy Church" shares several characteristics, although such services are often distinctive onto themselves, depending on the leadership team overseeing them and geographic location.
Generally, cowboy churches are Christian churches with a Western flare. A typical church may meet in a rural area in a barn, metal building, arena, out in a field, or old western building. They may have their own rodeo arena and a country gospel band, which is a big draw.
The sermons, if there are sermons, are often short and simple. Some cowboy churches have covered arenas where rodeo events such as bull riding, team roping, ranch sorting, team penning and equestrian events are held on weeknights.
Many cowboy churches have existed throughout the western states for the past 40 or 50 years, however in the past 15 or so years there has been an explosion of growth within the "movement," according to a Wikipedia entry.
Silverman's 2nd Chance Cowboy Church is straightforward: His are held the 2nd and 4th Sundays at 6 p.m. Music, perhaps of a southern gospel, country/blue grass variety provided by invited musicians, are the forefront of his service.
Testimonies, not sermons
But don't expect to hear a preacher drone a sermon, said Silverman. If there is a message, it's a heartfelt testimony of what God has accomplished in someone's life.
That gets to the heart of Silverman's Cowboy Church. While anyone is welcome to attend, he has in mind people who, for various reasons, shun traditional church services.
"I had a pastor say to me he'd really love to do a service and a sermon," said Silverman. "Our people are not ready to hear a sermon, but do you have a testimony? That's what our people want to hear. We have different speakers and music each time. If we were to cram the Bible down their throats, they'd be out the door. Some people who come to Cowboy Church are searching."
Hits the heart
Tony Falbe, a board member of 2nd Chance Corp., affirms Silverman's Cowboy Church is touching the lives of people who may not feel they fit in a traditional church.
"A lot of broken people hear a testimony and they realize they got a second chance," said Falbe. "When they hear what God has down for someone, that hits the heart."
There is another reason for 2nd Chance Cowboy Church.
"The other reason we're doing Cowboy Church is to bring awareness to what we're trying to build with the Second Chance School," added Silverman. "It's working."
The music at 2nd Chance Cowboy Church is a big draw. On a recent Sunday night, the seven-member Old Time Gospel Singers performed a 90-minute set of songs to an appreciative audience of 50 or so people, of which some donned cowboy hats for the occasion.
Toes were tapping to the music while the musicians performed songs that included "When He Was On The Cross, I Was On His Mind"; "I'll Fly Away"; "That Night Old Jack Daniels Met John 3:16"; and a crowd favorite, Hank Williams' "Jesus Remember Me."
It's the informal blend of sincere worship and country music that attracted Judy and Terry Gage of Portland Township to 2nd Chance Cowboy Church early on. Soon after, their granddaughters Mykenzie Gage and Diane Howe joined them, and now serve as ushers during the offering.
"It's the music and the fellowship that keeps us coming," said Judy Gage. "We know Ron and Patti from East Nelson United Methodist Church, but we keep coming for the testimonies, the worship of God and the fellowship."