From ‘Cowboy Joe’ to pastor: Arkansas man’s life transformed

From ‘Cowboy Joe’ to pastor: Arkansas man’s life transformed

by
Daniel Sperry for Nazarene News
| 21 Apr 2023
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Bismarck CRCC
Caption

Bismarck CRCC meets for an evening service

CrossRoads Cowboy Church in El Paso, Arkansas, has mixed Old Western culture and church in the hopes of reaching a target audience nicknamed “Cowboy Joe.” Chad Fryar first came to CRCC as that “Cowboy Joe,” and 10 years later he now pastors a CRCC church plant in Bismarck, Arkansas.

Fryar’s dad was a youth pastor, and in the back of his head Fryar knew his life wasn’t where it should be.

“We did everything backwards,” Fryar said. “We had a kid, got a house, then we got married.”

He reminded himself that he always wanted to raise his kids in the Church like his own upbringing and tried to find a church to attend but never found one to call home.

In June of 2012, he and his family moved from Texas to Cabot, Arkansas, and a friend helped them find CrossRoads Cowboy Church in El Paso. That friend happened to be Chism Riddle, the son of CrossRoads Cowboy Church’s lead pastor, Ron Riddle.

It didn’t take long for Fryar and his family to get plugged in.

“We fell in love with the atmosphere, the simplicity, the rawness and bluntness of the messages, which is the way we live,” Fryar said.

Riddle and Fryar agree Fryar fits the mold of the “Cowboy Joe,” a loner who tends to work by themself most of the time. The simplicity of the church is attractive to those who enjoy or identify with the American West culture, and especially those who are unchurched. The idea of cowboy or ranching specific teams that are in turn discipleship and Bible study groups was an easy way for Fryar to get connected.

“That’s the main reason that it all finally clicked with me and I was able to stick with it,” Fryar said. “Being able to plug in somewhere, investing in that mission and seeing the fruits of your labor right before your eyes.”

Fryar eventually became a Segundo, which is a cowboy culture term for “second in command.” In the cowboy church’s leadership structure, a Segundo is a church board member. Fryar had been helping out with the youth group for quite some time when the church began opening up a new plant in Bismarck, Arkansas.

Fryar felt like God was placing Bismarck on his heart, so he offered to preach there for three months. Fryar enjoyed it so much and was so committed to making the Bismarck location happen that he quite his teaching job in Cabot before he was officially offered the opportunity to pastor Bismarck CRCC.

In Bismarck, Fryar is already seeing positive results. When a rancher asked him for help one day, Fryar thought it was cattle, but the man wanted Fryar to help him quit drinking, reconcile with his family, and accept Christ. As they stood in roadside ditch, Fryar helped him pray the prayer of salvation.

Fryar hopes people like that continue to see their place in a church like CRCC.

“In cowboy culture, complacency isn’t something that is accepted,” Fryar said. “So in the cowboy church, we don’t want to just lead them to Jesus, we want to make disciples.”

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