“Cowboy Church” is simply an approach to church with an emphasis on cowboy culture. Cowboy churches desire to reach those in the cowboy community (often those involved in the pro rodeo circuit) and hold worship services with a decidedly Western flavor. There have been cowboy churches for the past 50 years or so, but they became more popular and plentiful in the 1970s. Cowboy church is more of a trend or approach to ministry than an organized movement. Cowboy churches minister to a unique segment of society, much like biker churches and trucker churches do. A cowboy church may belong to a fellowship of similar churches: the American Federation of Cowboy Churches (AFCC) is one affiliation that has a thoroughly orthodox statement of faith.
Cowboy churches might collect the offering in a hat or cowboy boot and baptize converts in a horse trough. And, of course, the music has a country western style. In a similar vein, other churches in the US also focus on a particular people group—Korean churches, Spanish-speaking churches, Messianic Jewish churches, Filipino churches, etc.
There is nothing wrong with believers within a culture or subculture worshiping together in a culturally specific manner. Of course, the gospel transcends culture (Colossians 3:11), and the gospel message is what is most important. A cowboy church that preaches and teaches the gospel would be a good place for believers to gather and worship. A cowboy church—or any church—that denies the gospel or ignores the Bible or that focuses on being a quasi-religious social organization should be avoided. As with any local church, a cowboy church should be checked out for doctrinal soundness and fidelity to Christ.
Some might argue against the idea of cowboy church on the basis that there are to be no divisions in the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 1:13; Galatians 3:26–29). It is true that in Christ we are all one body, but there is no problem with a church seeking to minister to a particular subculture. The important thing is that the church holds to the essential truths of the Christian faith and does not exclude anyone who doesn’t fit into their particular subculture.