Bass fisherman find fellowship in boat instead of arena
February 12, 2012
When is the deck of a fishing boat similar to the floor of an arena or casting a plug similar to roping a calf or steer?
Simple answer: When the guys or gals in the boat with the rods and reels in their hands are members of a cowboy church and enjoying the same kind of fellowship their western heritage friends have with reins and ropes in theirs.
Beginning this month—Feb. 25 at Lake Palestine—some 200 fishermen from many cowboy churches will begin a new season of bass fishing tournaments as members of the Cowboy Church Bass Club. Other tournaments are scheduled at Athens, March 24; Lake Fork, April 28; Cedar Creek, May 19; Richland Chambers, June 23; Ray Roberts, July 28; and Joe Pool, Aug. 25.
Two other tournaments will be held following the regular events—a “Classic” event Sept. 22 for any teams who have fished in as many as three tournaments or teams from individual churches who have held their own competitions—and a Top 10 tournament Oct. 13 for the top 10 points teams during the summer. They will cap off the year with a banquet on Oct. 27.
The bass fishing club started as an outdoor ministry of Cowboy Church of Ellis County but quickly attracted teams from many other cowboy churches and other Christian churches and some teams with no church affiliation.
The club exists “to unite Christians and reach out to non- Christians with the love of Jesus Christ through competitive bass fishing tournaments.” At the close of each tournament they have a devotional, a testimony or an inspirational message.
“We also pray for each other and take prayer requests,”said Al Kohutek, a Church of Christ member who maintains the club’s website at www.cowboychurchbassclub.org . “I consider it a part of my ministry,” he said. “We accept everyone from all churches or no church.”
Reggie Stewart, a former member of the Ellis County church and now pastor of J Bar C Cowboy Church in Palmer, is ministry leader for the club. “These fishing tournaments are one of the best things to draw people who don’t go to church,” Stewart said. “It’s a lot like a rodeo arena; it’s a tool to get them there.”
Entry fees are $60 per team. First time or infrequent participants also pay a $10 registration fee.
Stewart is a long-time fisherman and has been a fishing guide for more than 10 years. He also has written about fishing for many magazines and newspapers and often thought after covering a weekend-long fishing tournament how it might be to bring the anglers into a Christian environment.
“It is a good drawing tool,” he said. “We have more than 200 in the club and 150 of them are active members. That’s impressive when you consider that many of the big bass fishing circuits don’t even draw 35 teams.
“We have 30 to 35 teams and often more than 100 at every tournament. Everyone has to meet and have prayer and at the end at the weigh-in we do a devotional before there is any payout..”
Many of the participants have asked for prayer for their families and many have joined cowboy churches because of the experience, he said.
Stewart said that about 50 percent of those who fish the club’s tournaments are from cowboy churches; about 30 percent from other churches and the rest may have no church affiliation at all but hear the gospel presented at each tournament.
“It’s not about the money, and not hardly about the fishing for many of us,” he said. “It’s about fellowship.”