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Another Evangelical Con Job, This Time by 7 Hills Church in Cincinnati, Ohio

plastic easter eggs

I have often been accused of having a cynical, jaded view of Evangelical Christianity; that I am the former Evangelical equivalent of Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned; that I was hurt by the church; that I hate God, and by extension, I hate God’s chosen people — Evangelicals. Thus, Evangelicals smugly, arrogantly, and self-righteously ignore my critiques of Evangelicalism. Yet, in spite of their seeming dismissal of my writing and my story, these same people sure spend a lot of time attacking my character, trying to save me, and gossiping about me on their blogs, on social media, and in private forums (I have spies everywhere). I suspect this post will bring the same worn-out objections from the same people. In their minds, I simply have it out for Evangelicals. Instead of considering whether what I say is true, Evangelical zealots choose, instead, to go after me as a person. Such is the nature of the Internet.

Over the past fifteen years, I have interacted with thousands of Evangelical Christians. From emails to blog comments and social media messages to snail mail, Evangelicals have made their opinions known to me. I’ve even had Evangelicals call me or stop by my house.

On occasion — well, lots of occasions — I’ve had Evangelicals try to befriend me. Numerous Evangelicals preachers have told me that they would like to take me out to lunch or dinner. Why would these people want to befriend Bruce Gerencser, an outspoken atheist and critic of Evangelicalism? Do they really just want to be friends with me? Of course not. Hiding behind their feigned offers of friendship are ulterior motives.

I have written on this subject numerous times:

I have come to the conclusion that it is impossible for Evangelicals not to have ulterior motives when attempting to form relationships with non-Christians. This statement is justified by Evangelical apologists saying that Evangelicals are commanded by God to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature; that Hell is real; death and eternal punishment are certain for unbelievers unless they repent of their sins and put their faith and trust in Jesus; that Paul said Christians should use any means possible to save people. Such Evangelicals believe that the end always justifies the means when it comes to evangelizing the “lost.” Thus subterfuge and lies are justified as long as they lead to people getting saved.

Yesterday was Easter, or what Evangelicals love to call Resurrection Sunday. Easter, along with Mother’s Day and Christmas, is the highest attendance day of the year. Church members are encouraged to pull out the stops to entice their friends, family, and neighbors to attend their church’s Easter service. Churches often use all sorts of gimmicks — what we called “promotions” in my Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) days — to draw people to church.

7 Hills Church, a congregation with locations in Florence, Kentucky, and Cincinnati, Ohio, provides a good illustration of what I am talking about in this post. 7 Hills Church held multiple egg drops after services on Good Friday, Holy (huh?) Saturday, and Easter Sunday. 200,000 eggs were dropped for 3,000 children to put in their baskets and bags. According to Kyle Waid, an associate pastor at 7 Hills Church, “Every year, 7 Hills Church tries to make fun Easter memories for families. Over the years, we’ve dropped eggs out of hot air balloons, had professional skydivers, fireworks, and even shot people out of cannons.”

Waid knows Easter egg hunts are thoroughly, completely, and absolutely secular, yet justifies having one:

[Paul said] To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. Our church carries that same mission. We have become all things to all people with the same goal as Paul: that someone would receive the message of Jesus. The egg hunt is an afterthought. The goal is to reach people.

The goal, Waid stated, is to “reach [save, evangelize] people.” Not just doing something nice and fun for local children. The goal is what the goal always is for Evangelicals: saving sinners, adding members to the church, and increasing offerings.

Much like Evangelical rescue missions who require homeless people to sit through a sermon and an altar call before getting a meal or a bed for the night, 7 Hills Church required children and their families to attend church before the Easter egg drop.

Waid stated:

Following every Easter service, we hand out admission tickets to the egg hunt. It’s our hope that through the 10 minutes of hunting eggs, families can create a fun memory together. It’s our prayer that through the hour and 15-minute service, moms, dads, aunts, uncles, grandparents, sisters, and brothers can find a forever friend in Jesus.

According to Waid, almost five hundred people were “saved” during the Easter weekend churches. Waid added that 7 Hills pastor Marcus Mecum “has always invested heavily in the next generation, including making church for children fun and engaging.” Dropping plastic Easter eggs from the sky, a stunt that cost thousands of dollars, is “investing heavily in the next generation’? Really? Fun? Sure. But, I would love to know how much money 7 Hills has invested in the local community with no strings attached. My bet is on “not much.” How much money was spent on people outside of the church, on paying rent, utilities, car repairs, and providing food to the least of these? Again, based on their multi-million-dollar budget, I’d say “not much.”

I’m sure there are Evangelical churches that do minister to their communities with no strings attached, I just don’t know of any. Exant evidence suggests that when you see Evangelicals coming your way, they want something from you; that their promises of friendship are just a means to an end, the salvation of your soul and the liberation of your wallet. My advice? Run.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen 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.

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12 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Matilda

    That’s hilarious, dropping eggs from the sky, only surprised he didn’t say ‘from heaven.’ I say that as a former children’s evangelist who pulled many stunts for jesus to entrap my hearers. I too am convinced x-tians ALWAYS have that ulterior motive however much they claim they are just acting out of human compassion.
    Anecdote:Background: X-tianity in Wales is all but dead. Churches continue to be closed regularly. Big missionary organisations rarely come here but Youth With A Mission has moored a boat in our harbour to refit it to go to Madagascar (which is 85% x-tian but presumably not the right sort of x-tian.) To show what all round good guys they are, they sent a working party, from Switzerland to do Good Works in the town, like clearing an overgrown churchyard. Some local x-tians are helping with the re-vamp, including my friend. I see this as YWAM’s cunning plan to get churches here to become donors. Friend said they decided not to work on good Friday, but meet for prayer for the project. He said a local x-tian turned up and took over the meeting by telling them they were All Wrong about celebrating Easter and Xmas, pagan festivals. YWAM staff got out bibles and a theological spat ensued….Head-desk and Face-palm from me….if their god is so omnipotent, why doesn’t he revive his church here? Instead, fundies cause splits and more splits in a moribund church, yet they go on expecting converts to their own brand of jesus. Judging by my friend’s comment to me, he has doubts. He said, ‘I’m not sure how this project will work out, sending dentists to Madagascar.’ But then he added hastily ‘But I’m sure it’s from God.’ ??????? I’d like to ask YWAM a question. If they had a choice between doing dentistry or giving out bibles in Madagascar, which would they choose? They’d be lying if they said the former.

  2. Avatar
    BJW

    My sons were bussed to the Baptist Church in Bryan. Anytime one of the members had reached out to me I would’ve been okay with that then. So it’s funny that they supposedly do something nice for kids by bussing them to Wed church. And yet, I didn’t show any interest so they, in turn, couldn’t be bothered.

    Now I’m at the point where, if I attended a church, it would be UU. A super liberal, no burning hell everyone gets saved Christian church of that type would be okay to me, but in super MAGA white nationalist fundie extreme NW Ohio? I don’t think so.

  3. Avatar
    Brian Vanderlip

    I know of this guy, a kind of notorious marketeer in Crypto who has designed a sort of time-deposit thang called HEX. It reads to me as quite brilliant and worth investing in (not financial advice! Do your own reaearch.) Anyway because the design of this new offering resembles a PONZI scheme, he is getting a lot of hate and has been throughout development stages. Recently he was in ‘debate’ with this other fellow known in Crypto and was entirely demolishing him with crypto knowledge and verifiable fact. The guy got so deflated he just resorted to calling Richard Heart fat! And I thought of the several occasions here that this same effect has been demonstrated. Bruce lays it out like it is and his opponents crumple and whisper: FAT! You’re FAT!

  4. Avatar
    MItch

    A few years back, we took our grandson to one of those easter egg drops hosted by a large Baptist church here in Augusta, GA. At the time, he was 5 years old. The idea was for kids in his age group to run out at the signal of a horn blast and get the candy and what-not dropped by the helicopter. Parents were not supposed to be allowed to go with their children when they ran out on the field.

    Unfortunately, when the horn blasted, many (many!) parents ran out with their kids to “help” them, and in the process kids got pushed out of the way and knocked down so that the parents little darlings could get their share. Needless to say, all that happened that day was an upset grandson and a pissed off grandma and grandpa leaving that fiasco with a bad taste in their mouths.

    My wife and I aren’t church-goers, but you’d think that the “good christians” of that church would be abhorred by that conduct……..instead, they appear promote it year after year.

  5. Avatar
    clubschadenfreude

    “How much money was spent on people outside of the church, on paying rent, utilities, car repairs, and providing food to the least of these?”

    indeed. Those useful things don’t satistfy the evangelical need to screech their religion from their literal and metaphorical street corners.

    My former church has no problem in doing things like this, sending “missionaries” to places with already large Christiain populations (just not the right version), etc rather than helping the people around them, being in northern appalachia aka western pennsylvania.

  6. Avatar
    Solmead

    I used to be on the executive staff there back 11 years ago (was working there when I lost my faith and realized I was an atheist). This is definitely standard operating procedure for them. Splashy, big, extravagant. 3000+ person church. Every alter call the same people would go forward, and be counted as saved, there would of course be others that went forward as well but only counting them wouldn’t look as good. By the end it looked like it was always for the show.

    • Avatar
      Solmead

      The funny thing I forgot to add is, I lost my faith around March, I worked there till October. After I lost my faith is when I really started paying attention to what was being said, and how it was being said from the pulpit. and since part of my duties was being there for every service I got to hear it all. While there was nothing blatant, there were many factual mistakes I caught, logic issues, just so stories coming from the videos and pulpit. What also astounded me that I had never picked up on was the sheer amount of volunteer and staff turnover, and the backbiting and off color jokes from the staff.

  7. Avatar
    JW

    Regarding all that money being spent, I learned that it was never a good idea to ask questions like “Why are we raising thousands of dollars per person to send a short-term missions group of unskilled, middle-class Americans to to build a ramshackle church building when that same money could employ dozens of, likely skilled, local workers who need the money, to do the same thing?”

  8. Avatar
    Troy

    There is a church near me that gives out a free Saturday breakfast. I thought about going to it, hey in a roundabout way I pay their property taxes, so they owe me. Any advice on how to handle the inevitable hard sell?

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Bruce Gerencser