The day his wife left him was the “best day and the worst day” of his life, said Jason Taylor.
Taylor, pastor of Bar None Cowboy Church in Tatum, was only 28 and in the feed and cattle business, but had already gone broke three times and was strung out on methamphetamines.
“I had given my life to Christ when I was 16, but was never part of the church,” he said. “I had put Him (God) on the shelf.”
He needed something to get his attention, and it was the sight and sound of his wife, Christie, whom he had married in high school, walking out the door with their two daughters, Tara and Rikki Lee, in hand. When Christie called to check on him “four hours and 32 minutes later,” Taylor said, he asked, “What took you so long?” She came back, and with God’s help they began to put their lives together again.
Now, 10 years later, they have adopted two more children, a son, Tybo, and a daughter, Kyndall Grace, and soon they will observe their 20th wedding anniversary. “We had gotten real far away from the Lord,” Taylor recalled, “but God has blessed us so much, through our mistakes and stupidness, and we honor Him for it.”
Climbing out of the pit Taylor had dug for himself wasn’t easy or immediate, he said. “We sold everything we owned—house, cars, everything—and started all over in a 16×70 trailer,” he said. “I recommitted my life to Christ.”
“You won’t beat it if you are not walking with Jesus every day. He has to be completely Lord over all you do.”
Even with his recommitment to Christ, getting away from drug dependence was difficult, he admitted. “It took me three or four years to get to where I could hold a man’s hand and help him pour it out or help him crush a needle,” he said. “But Jesus Christ still removes demons. You can get medical treatment and therapy, but the demons can still be removed by Jesus Christ.”
Taylor said he counsels parents who are dealing with their kids’ addictions to “never quit praying, but quit paying right now. If you are paying court fees or providing gas money for them all you are doing is helping them” stay on drugs.
Four years ago, Stacy Wylie, who has become Taylor’s mentor, looked across the congregation both were a part of and observed that they didn’t fit, that they were the only cowboys there and stuck out like sore thumbs. “He asked me if I would be interested in helping him start a cowboy church,” Taylor said. “I told him I would do anything but preach.”
There were a “lot of bumps in the road,” he said, and their first effort didn’t take off, but in March 2006 a friend called and said there were a dozen people looking for a place to go to church and asked if Taylor could help. They leased a gas station/grocery store building and six months later were trying to cram 250 people into it. With money borrowed from the same bank he used during his three failures, they bought 25 acres and put up a 50×150-foot building. At their first worship service the week of Thanksgiving, attendance was 300.
Taylor was serving as a lay pastor in January 2008 when the church’s pastor resigned, and he felt impressed God was “putting something on my heart” to be the pastor. “I like to talk,” he said, “but when I woke up in the middle of the night and felt God telling me to ride this bronc (to become pastor), I told Him I couldn’t be the preacher.”
But Taylor’s father, who had been killed the previous November, had always drilled into him when he was thrown by a horse to “get back on that bronc,” and when he awoke one morning he could hear his dad say, “Get back on that bronc. You’ll learn how to ride.”
“I told the church I would be the preacher,” he said, and since March 2008 he has been the full-time pastor.
A couple of weeks ago they had almost 900 in worship and over the last year have had 130 conversions and baptisms.
“God doesn’t need anyone smart,” Taylor said. “That way He gets the glory.”
People are coming to the church because true to its name it is “bar none”—there’s no reason they can’t; everyone is welcome. Some come from traditional churches, he said, while others may never have gone to church. They are attracted by weekly arena events and other activities, by the “great band” and by Taylor’s simple presentation of the gospel.
“This is a church that is for the lost, for the unchurched and that is pretty much country,” Taylor said. “It’s His church.”