Cecil Community Church: Mass Marketing Jesus

tell the world about Jesus

Warning! Truckloads of snark and blasphemy ahead! Read at your own risk. Easily offended Evangelicals will likely fly into fits of rage, so to avoid having to repent over your angry outbursts, I suggest you avoid this post. You have been warned. Don’t whine and complain later.

Several months ago, I received in the mail Evangelical propaganda from Cecil Community Church in Cecil, Ohio. Cecil, population 188, is a twenty-minute drive from Ney, the home of the infamous atheist Bruce Gerencser. The mail I received was a part of a mass marketing campaign by Cecil Community and its pastor Michael Mohr to evangelize lost sinners. Secondarily, of course, the goal of this campaign is to scarf up Christians who are looking for a new church home. Remember, the goal is always the same: more asses in the pews = more money in the offering plates.

Cecil Community used a mass marketing program from Cross America in Kokomo, Indiana. Their goal is to “send a cross and path to salvation to every home in America.” So far, over 1.3 million crosses have made it into the mailboxes of unsuspecting targets for evangelization. Crystal Sanburn, the executive director of Cross America, is the wife of Dick Sanburn, Executive Pastor of Operations at Crossroads Community Church in Kokomo.

Are you ready, dear heathens, to be saved? Follow along as I unpack the agitprop from Cecil Community and Cross America.

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A prayed-over piece of mail. Wow!  And not only that, these prayer warriors are praying for me right now. By name? I doubt it. At best, these pray-ers are using generic “Dear Lord bless all the missionaries” prayers, and not praying the phonebook. Telling me that that they are praying for me specifically is a tad dishonest and disingenuous. I bet after reading this post, they will be praying for me by name. Time to ask God to rain Holy, Righteous Judgment® down on 345 E Main St, Ney, Ohio.

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“You might be asking why you received this,” the back of the mailer says.  Nope, not really. I have been around the Evangelical propaganda tree a time or two. I was an Evangelical pastor for twenty-five years. I used all sorts of gimmicks to evangelize “lost” people and entice them and wandering sheep to attend my church. Why, I used contests, giveaways, and all sorts of nonsense to attract people to my church — and it worked. I would love to know what the hit rate is for these mailers. Something tells me the rate is around expectations for spam — pitifully low. Here’s a suggestion. How about knocking on every door and asking if you can be of help to them, no strings attached; you know, let America see Jesus in your works of charity?

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Now that is one weak, shallow presentation of the Christian gospel. Want to go to Heaven? Pray this prayer. Super! Did that forty-seven years ago, and just to be on the safe side, I prayed this prayer again! I am good to go, right Pastor Mohr; right Crystal Sanburn? What about repentance? Do I have to give up my sinful ways? What is it in this process that saves me and guarantees me a home in Heaven? How can I be sure that a room is reserved for me in Trump’s Heavenly Hotel®? So many questions. Do I need to go to church on Sundays? Will the fine folks at Cecil Community Church pick me up for church every Sunday? What lengths will you go to disciple me? And don’t suggest I join your online church. Please, is that what Paul meant when he said in Hebrews 10:25:

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

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I prayed the prayer, so that means my life has changed forever! How come nothing has changed? Oh, I see, I have to really, really, really believe. What does that mean exactly? If nothing changes, that means you haven’t believed hard enough. In other words, what Cecil Community Church and Cross America are preaching is works salvation. Evidently, there is some sort of Believe Spectrum®, and you have to hit the right level to win the grand prize — Heaven.

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The mailer included an aluminum cross with Romans 10:9 stamped on the front of it. The cross even has a hole at the top so believers can put in on a chain and wear it or turn it into an earring. Of course, it could also be used with a nipple or genital piercing. Talk about putting Jesus where the action is.

I wonder, were these crosses manufactured in America? If not, how much were the foreign workers paid to make these cheap-ass popcan crosses?

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Finally, the mailer included a business card for Cecil Community Church and its pastor Dr. Michael Mohr. I was somewhat surprised that Mohr has an earned doctorate. Most Evangelical pastors sporting doctorates earned them through unaccredited Bible colleges, online, through a correspondence school, or are granted a doctorate for supporting the granting institution. The Bible college I attended, Midwestern Baptist College, gave out fake doctorates annually to men who played kissy-face with college president, Dr. Tom Malone. (Please see IFB Doctorates: Doctor, Doctor, Doctor, Everyone’s a Doctor)

I found it interesting that, here in 2019, Cecil Community Church conducts a large mail outreach, yet they don’t have a website. What’s with churches not having websites?  The church does have a Facebook page. Its page says the following about Pastor Mohr:

Michael Mohr has his Master of Divinity and Doctorate from Asbury Theological Seminary and has been ordained with the Evangelical Church Alliance, International since 2003 [ecainternational.org]. With the ECA, Dr. Mohr has given ordination addresses, served on Ordination Councils in Canada and the USA and conducted ordination services. He has preached and conducted special services in churches in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Kentucky.

Previously, Dr. Mohr served as Pastor of Truth Deliverance Ministries & Truth Builders based out of Galion, Ohio. Michael Mohr returned to Northwest Ohio in 2018 and is a Spangler #9 Candy Cane Cook and Pastor of Cecil Community Church. In Defiance County, Michael had been active in 4-H and Scouts. He served as both President of the 4-H Junior Leadership Club and Junior Fairboard & was 4-H King. He served as a 4-H Camp Counselor and 4-H Day Camp Director. He served on the Extension Personnel Committee. He was a delegate to National 4-H Club Congress. And he served on the Ohio 4-H Foundation Board of Trustees. In Ney, Ohio, Michael earned Eagle Scout and was a Vigil Honor member of Order of Arrow. He was Senior Patrol leader of the Northwest Ohio group going to the National Scout Jamboree at Fort AP Hill. He graduated from Fairview High School.

Dr. Mohr equips and empowers others to be baptized practicing followers of Jesus. He says, “Follow Jesus and Be the Church” “Helping people grow close to Jesus gives me joy.” “God has used me often to do His miracles today. I have seen many healings and use Truth to set people free from bondage.”

A quick perusal of Mohr’s personal Facebook page reveals that he is a Trump supporter, anti-gun control, anti-abortion, anti-socialism, anti-Muslim, anti-Gang of Four, and pretty much hates everything about liberalism and the Democratic Party. In other words, he is a good fit for rural Northwest Ohio. Of course, he was born and raised in the white, Republican, Evangelical monoculture of Defiance County. He is, in every way, a product of his environment. I get it. I was raised in the same culture; the difference being is that I saw the light and got help. One need not keep thinking this way. Amen? Amen!

Look, I do not doubt that Pastor Mohr and the folks at Cecil Community Church are good people; that they love their families, work hard, and want a better tomorrow. That said, their worldview is diametrically opposed to mine, and that of most of the readers of this blog. While their stated goal is to entice me into believing their peculiar version of the Christian gospel, their greater objective is to attach me to their Borg hive. Sorry, but that ain’t gonna happen. Been there done that, no thanks.

Were you enticed to pray the sinner’s prayer after seeing this mailer? If not, why not? Surely, you want to go to Heaven when you die, and not spend eternity in Hell with Stephen Hawkings, Christopher Hitchens, Steve Gupton — man, I still miss him — and Bruce Gerencser, right? Or, maybe you are like me. If there is a Heaven and Hell, Hell seems a far more interesting place to be. At least there will be more than one book in the library.

Please leave your thoughts in the comment section. If you got saved, please share your testimony of faith with readers.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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17 Comments

  1. Karen the rock whisperer

    I didn’t pray. There’s no evidence that there’s anyone to pray to.

    Reply
  2. przxqgl

    i bought a load of those aluminum crosses from some mail-order catalogue, quite a few years ago. a friend of mine made a sculpture out of them by inserting a long bolt through the hole in the top, and adding a washer in between each cross, so that they got spaced out by a fraction of an inch, and a nut at the other end… my recollection was that it was a wholesale order, so there were probably 1,000 individual crosses, but you couldn’t tell when they were all glommed together, and twisted around in interesting patterns…

    Reply
  3. Brunetto Latini

    It’s better than an Oral Roberts prayer cloth or an “alabaster” vial of anointing oil. My aunt used to write for all that stuff, and my sister and I would play with it when she wasn’t aware.

    Reply
  4. Melissa Montana

    Someone once told me Hell was where all the interesting people go. It seems truer everyday. And really, they imagine Trump in Heaven? Talk about delusional.
    Imagine if, instead of spending money on pamphlets and cheap junk crosses, they used that money to help people. But that would be logical, right?

    Reply
    1. Matilda

      Yup, the old one, ‘Heaven for the climate, hell for the company.’ Sir Ian McKellen said half of Holywood is gay, so I’m hoping for some spectacular floor shows… just imagine…Neil Patrick Harris or Ellen whenever you wanted them…and the company of all the great folk here. If the alternative was to spend eternity with the odious fundies we all know, there’s no contest to me!

      Reply
    2. Yulaffin

      But then would say they are helping people, by “spreading the gospel” or “feeding the sheep His word”.

      Reply
    3. Karen the rock whisperer

      If the Evangelical Christians are right, I’m headed for Hell, but I can’t imagine 45 isn’t as well. So, is my eternal torture going to be listening to the man pontificate, or will I simply be required to read every one of his tweets on Hell’s Twitter system?

      Reply
  5. GeoffT

    I note that one of the bible verses quoted requires one to say ‘Jesus is Lord’ but then specifically requires that one accepts Jesus as having died for for our sins ‘in our hearts’. That’s a big difference. Anybody can say the words but really, truly, believing it? That’s much harder. If I was god I’d send people who really believe this nonsense to hell… just for the hell of it.

    Reply
  6. Brunetto Latini

    I wouldn’t discount the power of such materials to impress people in various circumstances or stages of development. When I was a child, I found a tract that my cousin brought home from school. It was the first gospel presentation that ever made sense to me, even though I was taught about Jesus regularly. I remember that it had a strong affect on me.

    When I was in college, I would include a Four Spiritual Laws tract from Campus Crusade with payment at drive-thru windows.

    However silly you think such things, they do work as intended on some people.

    Reply
  7. ObstacleChick

    I am struck yet again by how incredibly ridiculous this message sounds to outsiders. The word “sin” holds bo value outside a religious, rule-specific context. At school, a teacher doesn’t call a parent because little Johnny sinned. But I guess evangelicals are so accustomed to Christianese they don’t recognize how foreign it is to those not raised in the bubble. However, I would bet that everyone this church sent the mailer to is already familiar with this particular version of christianese, took their metal cross and put it on their dresser, recognized tribe mates, and threw the mailer away. I doubt if they get any new members, and I doubt even more that they convert anyone.

    At least they drilled a hole in the cross – the ones passed out when I was a kid had no hole. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do with it – wave it around to scare vampires or werewolves or whatever evil creature is supposed to be afraid of crosses?

    Reply
  8. Brian Vanderlip

    Little leaflets with stories of the lost coming to Jesus with the sinner’s prayer at the end to wrap things up. And mailings. And radio shows and street-yellers and bloggers and Jim Bakker’s survival buckets! There is no end to the manipulation, the enticement, the soft and hard sell, the eternal boredom of having someone try to snag you for the fisherman. If atheists even began to reach out as Christians do and spend millions of advertising dollars, they would be roundly attacked as bothersome, even malicious and one thing they would not ever see is a tax-free status.
    Makes me think that Bruce might start a new thematic thread on the blog: Start revealing all the machinations of the sell, the Christian hook, the carnival called The Great Commission.

    Reply
  9. Skyler

    One of the joys and freedoms I have experienced since leaving the IFB church, (and now starting to walk away from Christianity) is the NOT having to feel I have to reach everybody with the gospel. I used to bring and hand out tracts wherever I went. My wife and children and me were also involved in the nursing home ministry. It is such a weight off my shoulders to not feel I have to do that. Also to add I am a bit embarrassed looking back on it. And now I am in the process of reinventing myself. 😊

    Reply
  10. Skyler

    Also, let me add I DO NOT MISS going door to door soulwinning every Saturday morning. (rain or shine). Yuk

    Reply
  11. Scott

    Arminian twaddle. Long live Calvinism, real Christians…

    (Just kidding….. left xianity after 45y of ‘it’. Was told by a minister that he was the physician of my soul. Stupid man was such a bully. Thought he’d catch my attention, as I’m a physician…)

    Boy you have some crazies in the usa.

    Reply
  12. Lady M

    Ha ha ha still laughing over “If there is a Heaven and Hell, Hell seems a far more interesting place to be. At least there will be more than one book in the library.” That made my evening.

    Reply
    1. Becky Wiren

      The most interesting people would end up in hell anyway, according to fundies. 😉

      Reply
  13. Dale

    Brunette, speaking of Oral Roberts and fabric, I remember when the ORU Prayer Tower was being remodeled. Old Oral had his very own secure prayer room in the tower. During the remodeling/redecorating, new carpet was installed, including in the prayer room. He actually had the old carpet cut up into lots and lots of small pieces and, for those watching his broadcasts, a donation of “seed money” was gratefully accepted and for the donation, Brother Roberts (aka starving college students working in the mailroom) would send you a piece of carpet that Brother Oral kneeled upon and prayed! What a bargain! Send me your social security for the month and I’ll send you some old, stained carpet.

    Reply

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