Church Message: Be Yourself

CBS/The Early Show
Does your family ever whine about going to church because it's boring or uncomfortable?

Around the country, churches are getting creative in order to keep their existing parishioners and bring in new members at the same time.

The Triad Cowboy Church may look at first glace like a rodeo, but The Early Show correspondent Melinda Murphy found it is really a religious hoedown of sorts: a mix of fire and brimstone sermons with horse trough baptisms.

Some might say it doesn't look much like a house of worship. Of course with his cowboy boots and cowboy hat, Doug Davis doesn't look much like a preacher either. And that's exactly the point.

"They can come and dress and be who they are. It's really a cowboy church by cowboys for cowboys," Davis says.

Boots with spurs, heads with hats, and kids with horses are all welcome. It is a big difference from traditional church.

"You get to ride horses and you can wear whatever you want," one girl says.

Cowboy Church founder Jeff Smith says: "If Jesus were here today, I truly believe he'd be wearing blue jeans."

Along with 14 others in the south, he says the whole idea is to bring more people into the fold.

"It's not a gimmick. It's just simply a way that works," Smith says. "For the cowboy, they look at that and say 'That's my kind of church.' And if that's what it takes to get them to feel like this is theirs, then we want to do it."

Looks like Smith is onto something. Turns out, people like to worship with people like themselves.

"I call it niche evangelism," Columbia University religion professor Randall Balmer says, adding that more lifestyle churches are popping up across the country.

"It is a reflection of the fact that the culture has become highly diverse, more and more pluralistic," Balmer says. "You have these various groups who are trying to appear to one or another niche within that broader culture."

But does all the hoopla dilute the message?

"I guess it's a bit of a stunt in some ways," Balmer says. "But I suppose if the spiritual, religious, theological content behind that is reasonably in tact, you have to give it a pass."

And the up-shoot is that more people give church a try.

"Hearing the word of god is the main thing, but the horse is what got me here," says one parishioner.

The Triad approaches religion with a twang, but at a punk rock church in New York it's religion with a bang.

Brit Frady with her pink hair says there are many reasons she attends a punk rock church. "I'm an outcast, so I go to this church because I feel at one with them. And most churches, I get ridiculed and mocked. Here, I'm with family."