'Cowboy Pastor' Rides Bulls Inside Ohio Church Sanctuary to Attract People to Hearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ
One Ohio pastor certainly is obeying Jesus when He warns against burying talents in the Gospel of Matthew.
Pastor Lawrence Bishop II, 48, of Solid Rock Church in Monroe, Ohio, is an experienced bull rider and is known as the "Cowboy Pastor" for turning his church into a rodeo by frequently wrestling and riding bulls during service, a practice he uses to attract new believers.
"You know, the Bible said to compel them to come in, and so that's what we're doing," Bishop told ABC's "Nightline." "It didn't say how to compel them. It just said compel them to come in, so ... this is a tool."
During a recent service at least 300 people responded to an alter call asking new believers to come forward and be baptized.
"The Bible says to be 'Wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove,'" Bishop continued. "It also said, 'He that winneth souls is wise.' So these bulls are going to attract people that otherwise would never set foot in a church house."
Bishop was a professional bull rider before taking over the church for his father. He put a bull riding ring inside the sanctuary and his own mother "thought he was crazy" for doing it.
"I don't have very many talents other than riding stuff that bucks or play[ing] music," he added. "So I've used both to spread the Gospel … to try to bring people to Jesus."
Solid Rock was founded by Bishop's father, Lawrence Bishop Sr., and his wife, Darlene, decades ago. The couple worked as horse ranchers before starting the church. Their LB Ranch is one of the country's foremost breeders of American quarter horses.
Darlene Bishop described Solid Rock as a "fun" place that people "love to come to." It has around 3,000 members and is racially mixed with half of the congregation being African-American.
Bull riding as a means of evangelism is not a new phenomenon. In 2009, The Christian Post reported on a Texas outreach ministry that uses rodeo as a means of reaching the lost.
The Cowboy Church of Ellis County, founded in 2000, bills itself as an "outreach to team ropers, barrel racers, working cowboys, and others who love western culture and enjoy rural life."
The church started with 300 people attending its first service and has grown to over 1,700 members.
Like Bishop, others around the country have said that bull riding attracts people to attend church services, including Wyoming horse whisperer Grant Golliher.
"We use an out-of-the-box method to get people to come, because people have so many walls up with church," Golliher told CP in 2009.