Most folks don't associate rodeos with the local church, but in Kannapolis, N.C. that's about to change.
North Kannapolis Baptist Church is sponsoring a Vacation Bible School this summer based on the Baptist Sunday School Board's rodeo theme. However, they are adding a twist — they are kicking it off with a full-fledged rodeo that will be recognized and sanctioned by the local rodeo association.
Chris Hawks, the church's Minister of Outreach and Singles came up with the idea after viewing the BSSB promotion video with Youth Minister John Johnson. Johnson asked Hawks, who is an amateur bull rider in the local rodeo circuit, if he could invite some rodeo friends to help at the VBS carnival kick-off.
In response, Hawks suggested sponsoring a fully sanctioned rodeo on the church grounds.
If their church building was located in a rural setting, the idea might not be novel, but North Kannapolis Baptist is well inside the city limits and is surrounded by 12,000 houses within a one-mile radius.
"This is a first for the city," said Hawks. "They've never had a rodeo in town before."
It is also a first for the church, which plans on setting up the rodeo arena on a vacant lot it owns adjacent to the church plant. They are advertising the two-night event as "The Good News Stampede," using the VBS title from the BSSB.
Hawks, will take advantage of the event to publicize their VBS and to present the plan of salvation. During intermission each night, he will present the gospel.
"Usually, the announcer rides around the arena on horseback," Hawks said. "Each night, I plan to share the gospel while sitting on a horse so I can ride right up to the audience."
Hawks is also training the church's singles and youth in presenting the gospel. They will be available both nights to help after Hawk's presentation.
The event is scheduled for Friday and Saturday nights, June 13 and 14. VBS will follow, beginning Sunday night and running through the week.
"We're planning a big parade through town on Saturday with a lot of horses and cowboys," Hawks said. "Then on Sunday, we're having a big carnival at the church and offering pony rides for the kids. Some of the cowboys from the rodeo have agreed to be there to help out."
Hawks indicated that his church was using a professional rodeo company to run the actual event. "S&R Rodeo Company is a family oriented company They won't allow alcoholic beverages to be sold at any of their rodeos, and that's unusual for rodeo companies."
Rodeo plans got a boost when the church found out they would receive 1500 "Cowboy Bibles" from Lane Baptist Church in Oklahoma which distributes the Bibles primarily in rodeo circles.
Tickets for the rodeo will cost $5, but that is only to cover the actual cost of the event, according to Hawks.
He said that the church wasn't hosting the rodeo for the publicity it would receive, "We just want people to be saved."