Church Signs

On the Road Looking for God’s True Church

As Polly and I travel the roads of Northwest Ohio and Southeast Indiana, we are always on the lookout for God’s True Church®. Here are a few of the churches we stumbled upon in recent weeks.

first presbyterian church antwerp ohio

First Presbyterian Church, Antwerp, Ohio. No online presence.

antwerp united methodist church ohio (1) antwerp united methodist church ohio (2)

Antwerp United Methodist Church, Antwerp, Ohio, Mike Schneider, pastor. Church website.

riverside family center antwerp ohio

Riverside Family Center, Antwerp, Ohio, no website.

sign in store window antwerp ohio

Sign in store window, Antwerp, Ohio

st john lutheran church hicksville ohio

St. John Lutheran Church, Hicksville, Ohio, Vicky Coombs, pastor. Church website

church of christ payne ohio

Church of Christ, Payne, Ohio Facebook page, no website.

1977: The Adventures of a Detroit Delivery Truck Driver

bruce midwestern baptist college pontiac michigan 1978

Bruce Gerencser, Midwestern Baptist College, 1978

I attended Midwestern Baptist College in Pontiac Michigan from 1976 to 1979. Midwestern, founded in the 1950s by Dr. Tom Malone, is an unaccredited Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) institution. Midwestern’s unaccredited status meant that students did not have access to federal or state grant or loan programs. Most students worked a part-time or full-time job to pay their tuition bill. Dormitory students, of course, also had the added expense of room and board. While Midwestern had a rudimentary cafeteria that provided a light breakfast and lunch, dormitory students were not required to eat there. Most dorm residents ate a combination of fast food and boxed/canned food. The dormitory had a kitchen with a microwave and a few tables. Every afternoon and evening, weird wafting smells circulated through the dormitory as students tried to “cook” their meals. I still have fond memories of the time my fiancée, who is now my wife, decided to surprise me with a microwave-cooked meal of liver. Needless to say, the liver was inedible. Students who worked at local fast food restaurants would often bring home throw-aways to either eat or give to their friends. The dormitory did not have refrigerators, so in the wintertime these throw-aways would often be stored — for days on end — outside the dormitory in a snow bank. This crude form of refrigeration would allow students to ” safely” eat three-day-old McDonald’s hamburgers. Ah, the good old days.

I worked a number of jobs while a student at Midwestern. One such job was working for Orchard Lake Cleaners — a now-closed commercial drycleaner and laundry. Each afternoon after classes I would load laundered uniforms, towels, and dust mops into a Ford F350 box delivery truck and make deliveries to Detroit homes and businesses. The man who operated the cleaners was an alcoholic. It was not uncommon for me to come back from my deliveries to find him passed out, head on desk, and a partially emptied bottle of booze nearby. More than once I had to wake him up so he could pay me my under-the-table wages for the week. As will become clear later in this story, this job proved to be quite exciting and dangerous.

Every day, I would load up the deliveries for that day and make my way to Detroit to make deliveries. Some were made to homes, others to businesses. I’ve often wondered if there was more to my deliveries than just laundry. Some of the businesses I delivered to were in seedy parts of Detroit. One day, as I pulled in to a downtown business to make a delivery, I noticed a man and a woman having sex in the backseat of a car. Another time, at the same location, I walked in on some sort of shakedown. I knew that I was at the wrong place at the wrong time, so I quickly shut the door and went back to the truck, leaving the order undelivered.

One day, I was driving down a Detroit city street on my way to my next delivery when a car turned on the one-way street and headed right toward me in the wrong direction. I successfully maneuvered the truck to avoid hitting the car head-on, but in doing so I clipped the mirrors off of several parked cars. I reported the accident to my boss, thinking that he would praise me for my astute driving skills. After all, I avoided an accident that would’ve likely totaled the truck. What I didn’t know is that there was no insurance on the truck. Needless to say, my boss was quite angry with me and wondered if perhaps he should get someone else to drive the truck.

Several days later, I was driving down one of Detroit’s many freeways and I noticed in the distance that several semi trucks were parked along the berm. Before I could slow down, I heard and felt a large BAM! on the top of the truck cab. What the heck (Baptist for hell)! I thought, as I quickly put on the brakes and pulled the truck to the berm. I got out of the truck and hopped up on the bumper to see what had hit the truck. Not only was there a huge dent in the cab, there was also a gash in the exterior metal face of the box. As I surveyed the damage, a beat up old car pulled in back of the truck and out jumped two white hippie looking men. They asked me what happened, and then proceeded to tell me that they were undercover Detroit cops. They were working nearby when they noticed a group of teenagers throwing cement blocks from the overpass to the roadway below. The semi trucks ahead of me had caught the blocks in the windshield, causing physical injury to one of the drivers. I was lucky that the block missed my windshield and hit the top of the cab instead. I am sure, at the time, that I thanked Jesus for watching out for me. Cue up Jesus Take the Wheel, right? I now know that I could have been seriously harmed or killed if the block had hit the windshield. Thrown a second sooner, and the block would have smashed into the windshield. Who knows what might have happened next.

Returning to the safe confines of the Orchard Lake Cleaners parking lot, I went into the office and told my boss that my truck driving days were over. Better to mindlessly run a machine than dodge criminals and concrete blocks. Several years later, someone dropped a bowling ball off an interstate overpass, instantly killing a woman. One second, often the difference between life and death. One second, and the life of Bruce Gerencser might have ended at the age of 19 on a Detroit freeway.

On the Road Looking for God’s True Church

As Polly and I travel the roads of Northwest Ohio and Southeast Indiana, we are always on the lookout for God’s True Church®. Here are a few of the churches we stumbled upon in recent weeks.

nw-ohio-evangelicalism-1

This photograph pretty well explains the political and religious landscape in rural Northwest Ohio. True liberals and progressives are few and far between. Many local Democrats attend Evangelical churches and are pro-life. Seven out of ten Defiance County registered voters are Republicans. Every local, county, and state officeholder is Republican. Those of us who are liberal Democrats have no voice in local politics. We are vampires who only come out at night. We skulk about, hopelessly wandering through the streets wailing woe is me, woe is me. When reelection time comes, local Republican officeholders know that they will easily win, often because the Democrats can’t find anyone to run against them. Rural Northwest Ohio is a right-wing political and religious monoculture. This is s-l-o-w-l-y changing thanks to millennial voters (if they vote) who tend to be more liberal and progressive than their parents and grandparents. It will be interesting to see what the voter party splits are come election day. Will local Evangelicals say to Donald Trump, ENOUGH! and vote for Clinton, Johnson, or Stein? Or will hatred for Clinton trump bigotry and misogyny?

calvary-united-methodist-church-williams-center calvary-united-methodist-church-williams-center

Calvary United Methodist Church, Williams Center, Ohio, pastors Dorothy, Larry Zuvers, and Stephen Brooks. Calvary does not have a website, but it does have a Facebook page. The “choose Jesus” sign is code for vote Republican. GOP=God’s Only Party. Donald Trump thinks GOP means grab our pu**ies.

 

On the Road Looking for God’s True Church

As Polly and I travel the roads of Northwest Ohio and Southeast Indiana, we are always on the lookout for God’s True Church®. Here are a few of the churches we stumbled upon in recent weeks.

vote-trump

Homemade Trump sign, Adrian Michigan.

religious-sign-napoleon-ohio

Advertising Sign, Napoleon, Ohio.

stryker-united-methodist-church-stryker-ohio

Stryker United Methodist Church, Stryker, Ohio, James Ernst, pastor. Stryker United Methodist has no web presence.

st-johns-christian-church-archbold

St John’s Christian Church, Archbold, Ohio, Erich Christman, pastor. At one time, St. John’s was affiliated with the United Church of Christ. In 2006, the church left the UCC and is now an independent Evangelical church.

My first thought as I read this was this: what if someone is on a low-carb diet and can’t eat bread? And what about people with celiac disease? Whole wheat? Cracked wheat? White bread? What if I want to toast my bread? So many questions arise when pondering the depth of this lame metaphor.

jesus-flag

Jesus flag, Stryker, Ohio

On the Road Looking for God’s True Church

As Polly and I travel the roads of Northwest Ohio and Southeast Indiana, we are always on the lookout for God’s True Church®. Here are a few of the churches we stumbled upon in recent weeks.

metamora-united-methodist-church metamora-united-methodist-church-002

Metamora United Methodist Church, Metamora, Ohio, Tyler Kleeberger, pastor. These pictures are of Metamora United Methodist’s abandoned church buildings The church now meets at nearby Evergreen High School. Once a month that church has what they call a Farmhouse Gathering: Rediscovering the Lost Art of the Public House:

Farmhouse Gathering is:

A gathering place to connect with your neighbors in a safe space that allows us to ask questions + exchange ideas to help us all move a little further in a more beautiful direction.

Why we do it:

In many European villages, there is a phenomenon that occurs which is deeply rooted in their cultures as communities. A space exists in their various villages where people rhythmically gather together. And while there is typically food + drink, sometimes even music or art or entertainment – this space is meant to be a place where the community gathers to be present together, to enter into one another’s lives + into the world in an honest, real, and meaningful way, and to simply exist in a profound way as human beings. It is what these villages call a “public house”. The public comes together in their common humanity as a collective community to gather, connect, explore, and progress. They experience reality at a deeper level – one that confronts our existence, realizes our essence, and sits in the mystery of this thing called life so that they might actually move through the world in a more profound way.

Unfortunately, though we live in an age that yearns for this more than ever, we have lost the art of the “public house,” and we desperately need to recover it.Farmhouse Gathering is a space we’ve created for us to do that.

What to expect:

FOOD + DRINK:
Our Public House Kitchen + Bar will be open for the duration of the event. [kitchen serves gourmet style pub food]  [bar serves well-crafted fermented + non-fermented drinks]

CONVERSATION:
Just like the Pubs in Europe, this space is all about us connecting as a community, being at a table with fellow human beings, and engaging in meaningful + valuable conversation. We spend a good portion of our time just doing this.

EXCHANGE OF IDEAS:
Another goal of this space is to actually develop our lives, our community, and our world in a beautiful + flourishing way by exploring various kinds of content:
Presentations – that share formative wisdom from a variety of topics, backgrounds, + traditions.
Art + Music
Media + Film
Stories + Interviews
Formal Discussions – conversations that are facilitated around a pertinent idea or experience.

And while there may be someone or a group officially “presenting”, this is always done in an open, collective, ‘have as many contributing voices as we can’ approach. You don’t have to share your thoughts, but you are certainly encouraged to!

A church with a bar. Sweet!
new-beginnings-united-methodist-church-deshler

New Beginnings United Methodist Church, Deshler, Ohio, Ruth Carter Crist, pastor. New Beginnings has no web presence.

oakdale-united-methodist-church-deshler-ohio

Oakdale United Methodist Church, Deshler, Ohio. Oakdale United Methodist has no web presence. It does, however, have four pastors for a congregation less than seventy-five people strong.

The Reasoning Behind the ‘On the Road Looking for God’s True Church’ Series

church on fire

Earlier this year I started a new series titled “On the Road Looking for God’s True Church.” This series features photographs of church signs from houses of worship in northwest Ohio, northeast Indiana, and southeast Michigan. I am disabled, often home-bound days on end, so to get me out of the house, Polly takes me on short road trips an hour or two from our home in Ney, Ohio. While out and about with Polly, Bethany (our daughter with Down Syndrome) and a back seat filled with camera equipment, I look for photography opportunities. Once such opportunity is church signs.

From time to time I get emails from Christians offended by this series. They don’t like the fact that I am making fun of their church, or of Christianity in general. Often I am told that I must be bitter, angry, or have an axe to grind. I am also told that I need to “get a life.” Well, photography is part of my life, and if Christians don’t like me making fun of their churches perhaps they should change their “message.”

Recently, a local pastor emailed me about this series and I responded, giving him five reasons why I love doing the On the Road Looking for God’s True Church series:

  • It exposes how rampant bad theology is
  • It exposes how churches and pastors view outsiders
  • It exposes what it is that churches and pastors think is important
  • It exposes the fact that the people putting up the messages really should use a dictionary
  • It exposes the fact that Evangelicalism rules the roost in northwest Ohio, northeast Indiana, and southeast Michigan

I then added:
On a slightly humorous note, by featuring these church signs on a heavily trafficked site such as this one, my blog appears in search listings near the top of searches for  ________ church. Sometimes my site is listed above the church’s listing. And, for those churches who seem to think it is still 1979 and have no website? Well, my blog comes up first when people search for these churches.

In general, I hate church signs. I think churches hurt their message and image by using them. Now churches are “blessing” local communities with bright, always-on LED signs.

Now you know, as Paul Harvey used to say, the rest of the story.

On the Road Looking for God’s True Church

As Polly and I travel the roads of Northwest Ohio and Southeast Indiana, we are always on the lookout for God’s True Church®. Here are a few of the churches we stumbled upon in recent weeks.

poplar ridge church of the brethren defiance ohio poplar ridge church of the brethren defiance ohio

Poplar Ridge Church of the Brethren, Defiance, Ohio. Poplar Ridge has no web presence.

Poplar Ridge wants passersby to know that the Christian God will never disappoints them. Really? Since God is a spirit (according to the Bible), all we have to judge him on are the works of his visible presence — the church. And I can tell you this much, there is a heaven of a lot of people who are disappointed with American Christianity, including those who attend church regularly. Perhaps the folks at Poplar Ridge should do a community survey, asking locals whether God, Christianity, and area churches are disappointing. Having pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years, I can tell you that church pews are filled with discouraged, disappointed people.

evansport united methodist church evansport ohio

Evansport United Methodist Church, Evansport, Ohio, Becky Gray, Pastor. The church has no web presence.

christ united methodist church continental

Christ United Methodist Church, Continental, Ohio, Charles Schmunk, Pastor. The church has no web presence.

continental united methodist church

Continental United Methodist Church, Continental, Ohio, Charles Schmunk, Pastor. The church has no web presence. Why are there two Methodist churches in Continental — population 1,123? Surely the community would be better served if the two smaller churches merged and became one moderate size church. Ah, but that would require compromise and one church giving up its building. Can’t have that.

saint john the baptist catholic church continental

Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church, Continental, Ohio, Mark Hoying, Pastor. The church has no web presence. I bet local Baptists hate seeing a Catholic church with their patron saint’s name.

new beginnings ministries fayette new beginnings ministries fayette

New Beginnings Ministries, Fayette, Ohio, Karen Joy King, Pastor. (Facebook page)  King has a “doctorate” from Christian Leadership University. While searching for information about this church and its pastor, I stumbled upon King’s testimony. Here’s an excerpt:

As a child, I was fortunate that my family attended church on a regular basis. Hearing the Bible stories and singing the little Sunday School choruses, made me hungry to know and to serve God. I gave my life to Christ by the age of 13. However, the church didn’t teach true Christian living, and I desired to know much more.

Eventually, God led me to a holiness church, in which I developed a very close walk with God and enjoyed having a very anointed ministry. After awhile, a Jezebel spirit came into the church. Through this, many lives and marriages were ruined, mine included.

Due to years of church and marital abuse and erroneous Biblical teachings, I suffered a complete break down in 1982. I was so sick, the team of doctors working with me, couldn’t figure out how I still managed to live (but God knew!). After the break, I slept 3 1/2 months almost around the clock. I was confined to bed for about 4 years due to the extreme illness and weakness.

During the years that followed, I could hardly do anything but was slowly gaining some strength. Due to being so ill for so many years, I no longer enjoyed the prayer life I previously had, nor was I able to meditate on God’s word and have it become Rhema like it constantly did before the break, nor I was I able to attend church. After the break, everything became dark, and I entered into, what I call, my 20 year tunnel.

My pastor/Christian Day School husband gave me no help or encouragement but instead constantly berated me. Eventually, he had an affair with another “Christian” woman in the church we pastored and divorced me. I became very angry, bitter, and experienced the gamet of satanic emotions, even though I didn’t want to be like this. It seemed that no matter how I prayed, was prayed for, fasted, and or tried to meditate on the Word, I couldn’t break out of the tunnel. Once in a while, I would see a little light in that tunnel, only to have it extinguished time and again.

Finally, after 20 years of struggling to regain a close, victorious relationship with God once again, but without success, I threw my hands into the air one night and told God that if He wanted me to be a Christian, He was going to have to take over and do it through me, for I couldn’t do this any more. I was tired of trying! I was done! What a blessed place at which to finally arrive! Now God could take over and lead me to victory since I was out of the way.

Shortly after that, a friend suggested that I go back to school and earn a Master’s degree in Counseling. God, through her, planted a seed. After praying about this for a couple of months, I felt this was something God wanted me to do. So, every day, all day long, while constantly praying, I searched the internet for the right university. None of the hundreds of universities I researched interested me.

After the two weeks of searching, I prayed once again, “Father, if You want me to do this, show me now the right school.” (I was tired of looking and was beginning to wonder if I should do this after all.) I went back on line. Immediately, Christian Leadership University came up. I hadn’t seen it before and it caught my attention. When I read the CLU catalogue, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, this was the one.

By faith (since I had been too ill for so many years to work a steady, decent job, my income was very low), I signed up for a Masters in Christian Counseling (I knew that I needed help before I could help others). This program promised to minister to me, which I was craving.

Mark Virkler called to welcome me as a CLU student. Before the conversation ended, not only was I signed up for a Masters but also a Ph.D. in Christian Counseling at a price I could afford! I was soaring, rejoicing, and praising the Lord!

You can read more about Christian Leadership University’s doctoral level counseling program here. Be prepared to severely underwhelmed by the program’s requirements. Total cost? Less than $6,000.

The last picture is of a sign posted at the entrance of New Beginning’s parking lot. What I want to know is WHAT exactly is FOR CHURCH USE ONLY? The parking lot? The pole?  The church building?

On the Road Looking for God’s True Church

As Polly and I travel the roads of Northwest Ohio and Southeast Indiana, we are always on the lookout for God’s True Church®. Here are a few of the churches we stumbled upon in recent weeks.

the gathering place defiance ohio

the gathering place defiance ohio the gathering place defiance ohio

The Gathering Place, Defiance, Ohio, Richard Buttermore, pastor. The Gathering Place is a nondenominational church. According to its website, The Gathering place is:

a place for Christian believers to who want to experience the presence of God and mature in their faith and relationship with the creator. What is taught here are promises God has given to us and the walk of life required to reap these promises. We are not here to pass judgement on others about what they have done in the past but to help one another progress towards a better life through Jesus. Everyone is on a different page in their walk with Christ and here we gather to have fellowship amongst other believers where we can come for healing in the physical and the mental aspects of our lives. It is through the power of Jesus who spoke it from the beginning in which we are capable of doing these things so come check out what God is doing here in Defiance.

The Gathering Place wants passersby to know that complaining is some sort of Satanic worship language. I have no idea what they mean by this. Years ago, when I was a student at Midwestern Baptist College, there was a rule that prohibited griping (complaining). Students were expected to keep their mouths shut at all times. Those who dared to complain quickly found themselves in front of the dean explaining exactly why they dared to gripe about the college, its teachers, or any other aspect of student life. Perhaps the message on The Gathering Place sign is meant for church members, not passersby.

The Gathering Place also wants passersby to know that it is up to them to make each day God’s masterpiece. This bit of prose is wrong on so many levels that I don’t know where to begin. First, how can unsaved sinners make any day God’s masterpiece? Are they not the enemies of God, at war with him and headed for hell if they don’t repent? How, then, could their days ever be a masterpiece? Second, I thought God was perfect in all his ways? If it is up to mere mortals to make each day God’s masterpiece, doesn’t that mean that God has created an inferior product? If Christians have the power to improve on God’s handiwork, what does that say about God, his power, and his sovereignty?

trinity united methodist church defiance ohio

Trinity United Methodist Church, Defiance, Ohio. According to the church’s website, “Trinity is all about making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. We hope to accomplish this through three simple steps: Connect, Grow, Serve.”

God’s Not Dead 2  is a Christian movie that details the “persecution” American Christians (Evangelicals) face on a daily basis. Its subject matter is every bit as mythical as the miracles found in the Bible. Here is what a few movie critics had to say about God’s Not Dead 2:

  • Bill Zwecker of the Chicago Sun-Times felt that the underlying issues presented in the film are relevant in today’s world, but criticized its lack of subtlety, saying, “the entire film simply comes off as a two-hour, jazzed-up movie version of a sermon.”
  • Frank Scheck of The Hollywood Reporter criticized the film’s “straw man” argument and its perceived victimizing of Christians: “Pounding its agenda with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer, God’s Not Dead 2 will no doubt please its target audience. Everyone else will be left wondering why its fans seem to be suffering from such a persecution complex.”
  • Jordan Hoffman at The Guardian deemed it “a much better movie than God’s Not Dead, but that’s a bit like saying a glass of milk left on the table hasn’t curdled and is merely sour” and stated that “it is unfortunately just professional enough that there are only brief instances of transcendent badness, rather than drawn-out sequences.”

(Wikipedia)

Most people think that mainline churches are progressive or liberal, but as my photographs of local church signs show, mainline churches can be every bit as Evangelical/Fundamentalist as the Baptists.

rock of ages family worship center defiance ohio

Rock of Ages Family Worship Center, Defiance, Ohio. Rock of Ages has no web presence. I do, however, love the message on their sign. I wish more churches would put this same message on their signs.

st marks lutheran church defiance ohio

St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, Defiance, Ohio. St Mark’s has no web presence. The church is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). While I indeed have many blessings I could count when I can’t sleep, I prefer 30mg of Temazepam (Restoril).

On the Road Looking for God’s True Church

As Polly and I travel the roads of Northwest Ohio and Southeast Indiana, we are always on the lookout for God’s True Church®. Here are a few of the churches we stumbled upon in recent weeks.

emanuel lutheran church napoleon

Emanuel Lutheran Church, Napoleon, Ohio, James Castello, Pastor. Emanuel Lutheran is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). The church’s website has the following message for visitors:

Thank you for visiting the web site of Emanuel Lutheran Church in Napoleon, Ohio. We hope you will visit the site often. This is an active and dedicated congregation which struggles to live out the Gospel in their everyday lives. Like all of God’s children, we fall short of His glory and come before Him as beggars. But we know of His freely given grace through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Knowing that gift is what empowers us and motivates us, we are humbled and privileged to be called children of His.

We hope that you know of His freely given love as well. If so, you know the importance of regular worship and prayer. If you aren’t sure, we invite you to our worship services or to those of the church of your choice to learn more.

This summer has been quite warm and humid. I am sure whoever put the message on Emanuel Lutheran’s sign was trying to be cute. However, I am not sure that reminding passersby of the fact that hell is hotter than a 95 degree summer day is the best way to attract prospective members.

faith baptist church defiance

Faith Baptist Church, Defiance, Ohio, Mick Sobiek, Pastor.  Faith Baptist is affiliated with the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches (GARBC). The church has no web presence. I preached at this church in 1979. I am sure my sermon was as forgettable as the congregation. At the time, Faith Baptist was without a pastor. The deacon in charge of things told me that the church did not need a pastor because they were doing quite well without one. What I remember most about the service was that everyone sat in the back of the church (Good Baptists). I mean everyone. Here I was, a 22-year-old preacher, trying to preach a sermon to a group of people who weren’t the slight bit interested in what I had to say. Needless to say, things did not go well. The highlight of the evening happened after church when the deacon took us to McDonald’s for dinner.

first assembly of god defiance

First Assembly of God, Defiance, Ohio, Randall Wilson, Pastor. First Assembly does have a website, but it has 1990s Windows 95 vibe. In others words: ugly, outdated, terrible design. I found no information that would tell me anything about the church or its pastor.  First Assembly wants passersby to know that God has ALL the answers. Answers to what?, I ask. The sign message seems to intimate that if we have questions and listen real closely that God will answers them. I would love for anyone from First Assembly to demonstrate how this works. Sitting at the McDonald’s drive-thru. Should I get a number one or a number seven? Yes, Lord, what shall it be? Chicken or beef?

his light ministries deshler

His Light Ministries, Deshler, Ohio, Brad and Michelle Wright, Pastors. According to the church’s website, His Light is a “Blood Bought,Spirit-Filled, Non-Denominational, Pentecostal Church that still believes in the Power of God.”

The Wrights describe their “call” to the ministry this way:

It was the night before Thanksgiving and the year was 2007, when God called us into the Ministry. I had just told Michelle and the kids, as they were downstairs watching tv, that I was going upstairs to bed. I remember just closing my eyes and was almost asleep, when all of sudden I heard an audible voice say, “Preach the Word.” Fear struck me and I prayed to the Lord telling Him that I couldn’t do it. I am just a kid, and I don’t know much about the Bible- where others had gone to Bible College and were more qualified to Preach His Word than I ever would be. The next night, I heard the same audible voice speak to me again, as I had just closed my eyes in bed saying, “Everything is going to be alright.” After I told Michelle what the Lord had commanded us to do, we tarried and prayed asking the Lord, “How are we going to be able to do this?” It wasn’t very long until God would answer our prayers and give us our greatest help, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues. On Christmas Eve of 2007, Michelle awoke out of her sleep and was filled with the Spirit and began speaking in other tongues. Several weeks later, we were just getting ready to leave for our Water Baptism, God poured His Spirit out again and I was Baptized in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues.

A recent Facebook post stated:

Are you looking for a church that will tickle your ears, encourage you in your sins, feed you coffee and donuts at every service, and never preaches against sin? Well, there’s one of those on every corner! But if you’re looking for church that has the Truth that sets free! That preaches and teaches regarding sin and the Answer to sin! That feeds the true Word of God and not bread alone! Then come to His Light Ministries tomorrow morning at 10:30! We would love to have you join with us to grow in this Message of Jesus Christ and Him Crucified!

god bless america

Barn along rural Northwest Ohio highway. I always want to stop and ask, WHICH God? However, I know here in Northwest Ohio that there is only ONE God — the God of the Christian Bible.

crossroads community church adrian michigan

crossroads community church adrian michigan

Crossroads Community Church, Adrian, Ohio, Lee Prettyman, (executive) Pastor. According to the church’s website, Crossroads Community has a “dream.” Their dream is described this way:

It is the dream of people being a church where everyone – exploring or skeptical, hurting or hopeless, discouraged or depressed, frustrated or confused – can find love, acceptance, guidance and encouragement in safe, friendly places.

It is the dream of being a church where relationship is important and religion isn’t…where no one stands alone.

It is the dream of people sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with Lenawee County and the world, and encouraging people to take steps toward loving God and people more.

It is the dream of people growing together in spiritual maturity through community, inspiring environments and created spaces…loving, laughing and learning together, understanding God’s wonderful plan and living life to its greatest potential.

It is the dream of people using strategic partnerships to serve, impact and make positive change in our world, our community, our neighbors and each other… designed to serve the total person – spiritually, emotionally, physically and socially.

My casual romp through their website led me to conclude that Crossroads Community is a generic Evangelical church focused on reaching Millennials/Gen-Xers for Jesus. I can’t think of any other reason that a church would have a Pokémon Go charging station. Perhaps I missed the Bible verse that said, Go into all the world and indulge Millennials in their latest gaming quest. Or conquering the Pokémon world for Jesus! Crossroads Community Church is a good example of a church latching onto the latest fad and using it to “reach” people.

Crossroads is planning on building a new facility. They must reach a goal of $4 million before they can start building. Crossroads is quite statistic-driven. You can check out their weekly statistics here.

immaculate conception catholic church deshler

catholic rectory deshler

Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, Deshler, Ohio, Arthur Niewiadomski, Pastor. The church has no web presence. The last picture is of the church’s rectory (that’s my guess anyway).

On the Road Looking for God’s True Church

As Polly and I travel the roads of Northwest Ohio and Southeast Indiana, we are always on the lookout for God’s True Church®. Here are a few of the churches we stumbled upon in recent weeks.

auglaize bible church harrod

Auglaize Bible Church, Harrod, Ohio, Ben Buzhardt, Pastor. Buzhardt is a graduate of Bob Jones University, so I assume Auglaize Bible is a Fundamentalist church. The church does not have a website, but it does have a Facebook page. I did find another website that had this to say about Auglaize Bible Church:

Auglaize Bible Church exists to glorify God in Harrod, Ohio. The men and women of this fellowship desire to encourage each other to grow in each person’s relationship with Jesus. We exist to show the gospel in word and in deed to people in West Central Ohio.

fayette christian church

Fayette Christian Church — Disciples of Christ, Fayette, Ohio. Fayette Christian does not have a web presence.

fayette united methodist church

Fayette United Methodist Church, Fayette, Ohio, Andrea Cheeseman, Pastor. According to the church’s website, “Fayette UMC is a Break Through Prayer Church. We believe in praying bold prayers to our awesome God.” So, there are other churches that do not “break through” with their prayers? Fayette United Methodist’s website explains “break through prayer” this way:

Break Through prayer is prayer that believes God is capable of making big bold changes in our lives, in the lives of our friends and family, and in life of our community. Since October, 2015 Fayette UMC has been a part of the West Ohio Annual Conference Break Through Prayer Lab. A training event for pastors and lay people, that teaches new prayer disciplines like prayer walking, praying circles, and specific prayer.

As a part of this prayer lab our Break Through Prayer Team developed our 9:11 prayer card. Our church has been praying for God’s break through since October and we have seen many answers. God is at work in our church, healing brokenness, bringing new life, and renewing our spirits.

What is this “pets unleashed” Vacation Bible School? So many one liners are going though my head right now!  Did the pets turn into atheists and now they are unleashed and free to roam? Inquiring minds want to know.  You can read Fayette United Methodist’s latest newsletter here.
jesus is lord ministries adrian michigan

Jesus is Lord Ministries World Outreach Center Inc., Adrian, Michigan, Pedro and Shirley Valdez, Pastors. Shirley Valdez is also a Prophetess and her husband is an Apostle. According to the church’s website, Jesus is Lord Ministries is a place where:

the unlovable are loved, the bound are set free, and no one is judged. Come as you are. Come to find out what it is that you have been missing in your life. Our church is here for you. It’s where God is worshiped in Spirit and Truth. Come worship with us and find what you have been looking for!

the church of jesus christ adrian michigan

The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ (The Church on Bent Oak, Adrian, Michigan, Rick Strawcutter, Pastor. According to a comment on the church’s unofficial Facebook page, The Church of the Lord is “the one and only true Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. The best fellowship I’ve ever experienced. Come and join us, you’ll keep coming back for more!”  I am always amused when a congregation uses a definite article — which is THE in the English language — to describe itself. Seems quite arrogant, don’t you think, for a church to consider itself THE Church of the Lord Jesus Christ?

According to the church’s website, certain people will find themselves right at home at The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ:

People who are tired of establishment approved, politically correct, dry dead and often silly approaches to churchianity. People who have the mental and spiritual wherewithal to handle the truth and know it when they hear it.  People who know in their hearts that there is more to Christ and a relationship with him that mere ritual and mental ascent.  Over the years many have  said, they were looking for “truth and not tradition”, and found it at the Church on Bent Oak.

A old wise farmer was once quoted as saying,  “The problem is not that we know too much. The problem is that so much of what we know, ain’t so.”

In the opinion of Pastor Strawcutter, nothing could more clearly describe the dilemma of the typical church goer today.   Tradition and at times outright shear ignorance blocks the free flow of truth and understanding of the Bible.  Too many churches and ministers today are more dedicated to the perpetuation of their past and traditions than they are to walking in true vision, interpretation and enlightenment.

One area that ministries afflicted with stunted spiritual growth balk at is the area of science.   Because they find certain scientific holdings to be inconsistent with their ridged and sacrosanct beliefs they arrogantly denounce and dismiss out of hand many things that if viewed in a more correct Biblical light would actually make perfect sense.

The following are a few of the primary areas that have historically stunted biblical understanding and have actually caused many to become committed unbelievers instead of believers.  Would it surprise you to know that among other things, the Bible  teaches that:

The Creative days in Genesis are eras of time and not literal 24 hr. days?
Adam was not the first man created on earth?
The Serpent was symbolic and not a literal slithering snake?
Noah’s flood was one of many such upheavals and was local and not global?
The word rapture appears no where in scripture, nor does the word trinity?

Rick Strawcutter has been the pastor of The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ for forty years. His bio page describes him this way:

His talents and experience is varied and extensive. Pastor Strawcutter has a broad based educational backround including a Naturopathic degree and pilot’s license.  He is  the author of several books including “Bankers Lawyers and Judges – the Unholy Trinity”,  “Without Controversy ”  and  “Ten Minute Bible Study.”

Here’s a link to an older article about Strawcutter and his controversial beliefs and practices. In 1979, Strawcutter held a controversial book burning. You can read about it here. In 2014, Strawcutter stirred up controversy over a public sculpture he considered erotic. You can read about it here.

raisin valley evangelical friends church adrian michigan

Raisin Valley Evangelical Friends Church, Adrian, Michigan, Doug Chandler, Pastor. On its website,  Raisin Valley describes itself this way:

Powerful and familiar hymns alongside many of the best new worship songs and choruses sung in a traditional worship style
Bible-based preaching and teaching with a focus on impacting our daily lives
A welcoming atmosphere where strong friendships are nurtured
Many opportunities to serve in the church and the community
A heart for sharing God’s message and love, both locally and worldwide

second baptist church adrian michigan

second baptist church adrian michigan

Second Baptist Church, Adrian, Michigan, Russell Henagan,Pastor. Second Baptist has no web presence.

On the Road Looking for God’s True Church

As Polly and I travel the roads of Northwest Ohio and Southeast Indiana, we are always on the lookout for God’s True Church®. Here are a few of the churches we stumbled upon in recent weeks.

alvordton united brethren church alvordton

Alvordton United Brethren Church, Alvordton, Ohio, Dan VanArsdalen, pastor. According to the church’s website, (link no longer active) their mission is to “reach the hurting, the lost, and the broken of all ages with the Good News of Jesus Christ. We will use today’s tools to share yesterday’s story. We will teach, train, and worship our wonderful Savior.” There are several drug rehab centers located in Alvordton (population 300).

bridgewater community church bridgewater

Bridgewater Community Church, Montpelier, Ohio, Mark Pitman, Pastor. Bridgewater Community is an Independent Fundamentalist community church. Churches such as this one are Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) churches without the Baptist label. Bridgewater Community has a website, but it is broke (returning a database error). (Facebook page) Mark Pitman is the executive director of Community Pregnancy Center Women’s Health Resource (CPC). CPC, with locations in nearby Bryan, Defiance, and Napoleon, provides pro-life services to pregnant women. CPC is stridently anti-abortion. Several years ago, CPC changed its name to hide its overt anti-abortion stance. The closest Planned Parenthood clinics are an hour away in Toledo and Fort Wayne.

calvary church of benton ridge

Calvary Church of Benton Ridge, Benton Ridge, Ohio, Brett Kelly, pastor. Calvary Church is affiliated with the United Methodist Church. 300 people live in Benton Ridge. There are TWO Methodist churches in Benton Ridge. I would love to hear the backstory as to why there are two Methodist churches in such a small community. Calvary Church does not a website, but they do have a Facebook page.

domus angelorum cloverdale

domus angelorum cloverdale

Domus Angelorum Retreat Center, Cloverdale, Ohio. Domus Angelorum is affiliated with the Catholic Diocese of Toledo. Local Catholic churches use its facilities for retreats. The trailer is for some sort of traveling Eucharistic Miracles Exhibit.

frontier baptist church frontier michigan

Frontier Baptist Church, Frontier, Michigan, Terry Farwell, Pastor.Frontier Baptist is associated with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). Lord, my eyes ARE open. Where, oh where are all these God-sent blessings Christians speak of?

olive branch christian union church alvordton

Olive Branch Christian Union Church, Fayette, Ohio. Olive Branch is affiliated with the Christian Union denomination. Neither the church or its denomination have a website. (Facebook page) I pastored Olive Branch for seven months in 1995. There’s a story to be told…some day!

gomer congregational church gomer

gomer congregational church gomer

Gomer Congregational Church, Gomer, Ohio, James Wilder, pastor. According to the church’s website, “no matter who you are…or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here! ”  Gomer Congregational’s website has a page titled D&D’s. I thought, Dungeons & Dragons? Nope, deacons and deaconesses. I always find it interesting to dig into church newsletters and websites. Wilder was recently called to be the pastor of Gomer Congregational. Church attendance the Sunday before his trial sermon? 39. Sunday of the trial sermon? 93. Two weeks later? 42. This is typical church member behavior. Members come out of the woodwork to hear the candidate and, if called upon, to vote for or against his hire. Once their voting job is finished, these members retreat to their homes, ready to be called upon again in the future. Most churches have substantially more members on their membership rolls than they do sitting in the pews. These non-attending members can be a big pain in the ass for pastors. Let a church clique get upset at the pastor and call for a meeting, why these non-attending members will show up in droves, ready to pass  judgment upon the matter. You can read Gomer Congregational’s latest newsletter here.

 

 

On the Road Looking for God’s True Church

As Polly and I travel the roads of Northwest Ohio and Southeast Indiana, we are always on the lookout for God’s True Church®. Here are a few of the churches we stumbled upon in recent weeks.

christ is the answer findlay ohio

Side of State Farm Insurance office, Findlay, Ohio. What I want to know is this: What is the question?

good shepherd united methodist church benton ridge

Good Shepherd United Methodist Church, Benton Ridge, Ohio, Richard Hiltibran, pastor. Hiltibran describes his “passion” this way: (link no longer active)

My passion in ministry is seeing people become more like Jesus (holiness), and those disciples making a difference in their communities, cities, families, and all across the world. The way I have seen this happen is through worship, study, and small discipleship groups.  I am a Wesleyan nerd, who believes that through our tradition of Methodism people were revived by the work of God’s Holy Spirit. That can happen again if we as a Church submit to the voice of the Holy Spirit and follow God’s Will through Scripture, accountably, community, gifts of the Spirit, and the greatest of these is love.

Hiltibran’s claim to fame?: (link no longer active)

I have performed stand up comedy all over Ohio and in 2008 I was a finalist in the Dayton funniest person competition @ the Dayton Funny Bone.

Evidently, Hiltibran and the members of Good Shepherd think that non-Christians are broken and in need of repair. Why do I need to be made “new” (whatever that means)? I like the “old” me just fine.
jehovahs witnesses

Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, somewhere in Ohio.

lafayette congregational christian church

LaFayette Congregational Christian Church, LaFayette, Ohio. According the to church’s Facebook page, “LaFayette Congregational Christian Church is a friendly, faithful group of people that meet to worship Jesus Christ in the town of LaFayette, Ohio.”

mt cory united methodist church

Mt. Cory United Methodist Church, Mt. Cory, Ohio, Mark Fuerstenau, Pastor. (Church’s Facebook page)

mt cory united methodist church

Mt. Cory Zion United Methodist Church, Mt Cory, Ohio. I found no public information on this church. Mt Cory has a population of 204. Surely, this community doesn’t have more than one Methodist church?

trinity evangelical lutheran church findlay

Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Findlay, Ohio, Dennis Mauer, Pastor. I couldn’t get any further information about this church due to its non-functioning website.

trinity united methodist church defiance

trinity united methodist church defiance

Trinity United Methodist Church, Defiance, Ohio. According to the church’s website, “Trinity is all about making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. We hope to accomplish this through three simple steps: Connect, Grow, Serve.” Trinity want people to know that America will NEVER be great until EVERYONE puts God first. Damn! Atheists, agnostics, secularists, and non-Christian relgionists are keeping America from being great! No worries. Donald Trump promises to make America great again.