One Google search was all it took for a third-generation cowboy from Kentucky to find Lone Star Cowboy Church and start down the path of spiritual growth.
Three years ago, Chris Todd and his wife Danielle were enjoying married life in Kentucky and planning for their future. Chris, a third-generation cowboy and farrier by trade, had grown up in a Christian environment, but not one that emphasized studying the Bible and praying daily. He knew that he believed in Jesus, and that was that. As an adult, he and his wife Danielle would attend the local Catholic church with her parents in Versailles, Kentucky; pleasant and encouraging, Chris's spirit was always searching for something more profound. That's when he fired up the Google search engine.
Speaking My Language
"One day while shoeing horses, I googled 'cowboy church' and up popped Lone Star Cowboy Church's podcast. I started listening to the sermons and was hooked," says Chris. For the first time, he felt like he had found a pastor and a church that spoke his language and explained the Bible in a way that made sense to him. "Pastor Randy opened up the Bible for me, and I would listen to his sermons while I was in my truck during the day; it helped me grow in my relationship with Jesus. And when I showed Danielle, she loved the messages from Pastor Amber (Noblit) and Rob; we just really enjoyed all of the pastors and speakers we heard and learned a lot from," he says.
A New Kind of Church
This new format of church couldn't have come at a better time. The Todds had recently moved to a new area of Kentucky and worked seven days a week to turn the undeveloped land with ten horses and a camper into a forever home for their future family. The move also meant they could no longer attend the Catholic church with Danielle's family and were looking for a new church home. Luckily, Lone Star Cowboy Church had begun live-streaming their Sunday services via Facebook, YouTube, and ChurchOnline - and the Todds loved how seamlessly the timing of watching the service on YouTube every Sunday morning fit into their routine. "The 9:30 service in Texas is 10:30 our time, so we would wake up, feed the cattle and the horses, have some breakfast ourselves, and then come inside to watch the sermon," says Chris. This was the case for three years, and in that time, Chris and Danielle shared the link to the YouTube channel with friends they knew needed to hear the Gospel but were hesitant to walk through the doors of a church. Danielle even participated in an online Ladies Ministry bible study, and the couple settled into their new routine, thinking they had gone as far as they could. But God had other plans.
Over time, and with Pastor Randy's weekly invitation to the altar, salvation, and baptism in his ears, Chris realized that God was prompting him to take the step of baptism. "I thought, 'Well, my church is over 700 miles away, so I don't see how I could do that,' and I just kind of left it at that and ignored it," he says. Then, one day, Chris and Danielle got the news that every young couple dreams of - they were going to have a baby. After the initial shock, delight, celebration, and sharing the good news with friends and family, Chris felt that old familiar nudge from the Lord - more substantial this time. "I can be a little hard-headed, so I'm glad He kept pushing me," says Chris. He knew that with the arrival of his daughter in January, God was calling him to step up and be the leader of his family. Baptism was a great way to make a symbolic statement of faith to follow Jesus and shepherd his family well. "We visit Texas three or four times a year, so I knew that if I put my mind to it, we could make it work. Not too long after that, I sent a message on Facebook asking about how to get baptized by Pastor Randy, and the rest is history," says Chris.
Digital Connections, Real Miles
History, indeed. When our team received Chris's message on Facebook, they knew it would take collaboration and excellent communication to help this couple from Kentucky, now expecting a baby, travel across the country to be baptized at a one-hour church service. The care department arranged to conduct Chris's baptism class (the same one in-person attendees take) via Zoom, and according to Chris, it all went off without a hitch, thanks to his wife. "I used Danielle's Zoom account, and she set the whole thing up and then said, 'Don't touch anything,'" he jokes. With the baptism class completed, all left was to schedule his service time and arrange for him to be baptized by the pastor of his choosing - Pastor Randy Weaver. The time and day were set for November 26th, 2023, at the 9:30 a.m. service.
The two arrived in Texas after a leisurely drive. "We both love seeing new country, so we took a longer route through Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana," says Danielle. After arriving at the church they had been watching virtually for three years, the couple had to separate briefly so that Chris could check in for his baptism. "I walked in the front doors alone since Chris had to go elsewhere, and the gentleman who opened the door for me said, 'Wow, it is so great to see that smile on your face this morning.' He didn't know me or that it was our first time there, but I immediately felt welcomed, and the community members shared such a sense of warmth in that building," she recalls. After finding a seat in the front row, Danielle enjoyed the worship service before Chris and four others filed onto the stage, ready to declare their faith in Jesus. After stumbling across a podcast from a cowboy church in Texas and three years of watching online, Chris Todd was baptized by Pastor Randy Weaver in front of the congregation while his wife looked on with pride.
Same Man, New Man
Chris joined Danielle for the church service, and after the pastor dismissed the crowd with prayer, they were warmly welcomed and congratulated by those around them. As quickly as it came, it was over. Chris and Danielle headed home after stopping in Fort Worth to catch the NCHA Cutting Horse Finals. In many ways, they were the same, but they were also vastly different than before.
Chris especially felt the impact of his decision to be baptized. "He felt like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders, he felt more complete, and he said the things that had been weighing on him from everyday life just weren't that heavy or important anymore," says Danielle. The experience of being at the church left a lasting impression on them both, as well. "On the way home, Chris and I talked about how much attending the church service meant to us. We love being able to watch online, but attending church in person was so special to us. Everyone was so welcoming, and we immediately felt like family, even though we had never been there. It felt like we had been attending there for years, and that is so special," she says.
So what would Chris and Danielle Todd, two "Online Members" from far-away Kentucky, say to other online viewers thinking about getting baptized? "If we had to share one thing with others who watch online or might be on the fence about being baptized, just go to a church service in person. Any doubts or fears you might have will disappear when you feel how much love God has filled Lone Star Cowboy Church with," says Danielle.
The Next Step is One Message Away
With that, this writer and the people of Lone Star Cowboy Church agree. Whether here with us or some other church body, finding a community to support you, pray over you, and walk through life with you daily is essential. If you feel like water baptism is the next step or if you have questions about what baptism is or what it means, reach out to us. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org or take a page from Chris's book and send a simple Facebook message. We'll get you taken care of.
We want to thank Chris and Danielle for sharing their experience and time with us and congratulate them on their expectations for their baby girl.