By Quinn Lavespere, Message Staff Writer
[img_assist|nid=7510|title=Supportive congregation|desc=The congregation of Epps Baptist Church fully supports the biker and cowboy ministries as young and old turnout for events.|link=none|align=right|width=640|height=480]EPPS – Epps Baptist Church pastor Johnny Smith is a busy man with a busy church.
Smith has involved himself with several ministries, including a cowboy ministry and a biker ministry, as his church looks toward a future of active servitude to Christ.
“I must say that it’s rather fun to see such all these causes going on at once,” the pastor said. “I feel it’s an honor to get to engage in this type of work for God.”
Though he’s dealing with other ministries, Smith hasn’t allowed Epps Baptist to slack off in its work for God. Indeed, the church is as active in its own ways as the pastor’s other ministries.
“We have a compassionate ministry and a food and clothing ministry, and we just started up the biker ministry,” Smith said. “We’ve also had several professions of faith during our Vacation Bible School. At this point, we have a lot of irons in the fire. Whatever the Lord leads us to do, we’re doing it.”
Like many other cowboy church pastors with their ministries, Smith started up Christ’s Cowboys Ministry for those who enjoy the cowboy culture and who do not go to a traditional church.
“I have a guy in my church who’s a cowboy and has a cowboy ministry,” the pastor said. “He and I talked, and I felt the Lord leading me to start the cowboy ministry. I’m not a cowboy, so we had to find a place first. I prayed, and God opened a door where a friend of mine gave us his barn to use. That was God’s confirmation that it was time for us to start. Through Christ’s Cowboys, we’ve been able to reach more people, and the ministry is growing. We average about 80 people now. Furthermore, there’s a guy who’s giving us an arena for activities such as barrel racing. God just keep blessing us and opening doors.”
Similarly, Smith started up Leather and Grace: A Bikers Refuge for non-traditional churchgoers who enjoy the biker culture.
“When we first started, we had 20 people come,” the pastor said. “Some of them I had tried to get to come to church for five years. Like the cowboy ministry, God is using this ministry to reach more people. I have a guy in my church who had a building in town that he gave to us to pay his utilities, and several of our members are also members of the Christian Motorcycle Association, which is out of Arkansas. I have a deacon chairman named David McVay who is a biker as well and he really helped organize this ministry.”
Smith said he is blessed to have a congregation that fully supports the biker and cowboy ministries.
“My congregation does everything they can to advance God’s purposes for these ministries,” the pastor said. “I have them go out and encourage people, and they go out and bring people in. Anytime we’ve needed anything, we’ve been supported by them. This church has a spirit about it that wants to reach lost people, and we understand that God blesses us when we do that. He’s blessed us by growth, He’s given us the facilities we need, and He’s allowed us to be financially independent. We’re also grateful to the Baptist Building for buying us a sound system for the cowboy ministry. Everything else has been God’s doing, and that’s the greatest blessing of all.”
For the future, Smith hopes to get a baptistry in the form of a water trough for the cowboy church and wants to see the biker ministry and cowboy ministry become full-time churches.
“Ultimately, though, I want all of our ministries to be grounded in the Word of Jesus Christ and to have a passion for telling others about the Gospel,” the pastor said.