By Susy Solis, CBS 11 News

PONDER (CBSDFW.COM) –  Members of the Denton County Cowboy Church say they will rebuild after the main building at their church was declared a total loss after a fire.

The fire erupted at the church early Saturday morning but church services continued hours later as close to 500 church members gathered under a large tent for outdoor service.

“We’ve done church outside before so it was like going back to our roots,” said Brandon Henderson, Pastor of the Denton County Cowboy Church.

The three year old building had just been paid off and several church members could only watch helplessly as firefighters worked to extinguish the fire.

“It was rough to drive up and see a lot of blood, sweat and tears people put into that place go up in flames,” said Henderson. “But like I told our people, our church didn’t burn. A building burned and our church is us.”

After the initial shock, churchgoers began preparing for Sunday service. Neighboring churches donated air conditioning units, tents and hundreds of chairs and the makeshift set up began almost immediately after the fire was extinguished.

At Sunday service, the message was one of gratitude. A ladies luncheon had been planned for Saturday and everyone was grateful no one was injured.

Pastor Henderson asked for prayers and said, “ God we thank you for all the hands that showed up yesterday to make today happen.”

Henderson and other church leaders chose to not dwell on the fire and pledged to move forward. The tent was filled to capacity Sunday, just as their sanctuary had been before the fire.

For church members the fire simply symbolized a sign from God.

“We’ve already outgrown the church. We’re barely squeezing people in,” Watson said. “This is just God’s way of swiping the plate clean so we can start new.”

The cause of the fire is still unknown.