Lutheran Minister Leads ‘Smokin’ Bible Study’ at Ohio Cigar Shop

Rocky River, Ohio — A Lutheran minister from Ohio has been hosting a bi-monthly Bible study for men — inside his local cigar shop.

Eric Van Scyoc of St. Thomas Lutheran Church calls the gathering the “Smokin’ Bible Study,” where the men gather in the back room of Cigar Cigars and smoke stogies as they study the word of God. He says that he has been leading the studies at the location for approximately three years.

“It’s an opportunity to get out of the cold, have a cigar and learn some Bible,” one of the attendees told the local publication The Plain Dealer.

“It’s a chance to bring the Bible out from the walls of the church,” Van Scyoc said.

He explained that when he was called upon by the owner of Cigar Cigars to lead the study, he was reluctant at first, but since no one in the church had a problem with the idea, he accepted.

“Some women have said to us, ‘I’m going to come by because it shouldn’t be just for men,'” Van Scyoc explained. “They’re certainly welcome, but so far, none of them have come by.”

The publication outlines that “the group has puffed through John and are now smoking into Matthew.” Van Scyoc smokes right along with the others in the Bible study.

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However, the Lutheran minister is not the first to lead a cigar shop Bible study. T.J. Hill of San Diego, California explained that he participates in a local study called “Holy Smokes.”

“We’ve been doing it for a little over 8 years now. Guys come — and have come — from a few churches in our area.We get together about once a month, have cigars, great food and some adult beverages,” Hill outlined. “Holy Smokes gives these guys a safe but accountable place to talk, share, pray and encourage one another.”

He stated that he has purposefully kept the group independent because he knows that there are those who would disagree with the concept of combining stogies with the Scriptures.

“[W]e’ve intentionally kept Holy Smokes a non-affiliated group and event as per a specific church or churches go. We’ve found it’s way simpler this way and keeps any weirdness from cropping up if someone gets too ‘Pharisaical’ about the spiritual validity of such a group,” Hill continued. “We always say that all are welcome. If this ain’t your thing, that’s ok. But don’t think that God can’t work in our group until you’ve hung out at a Holy Smokes event.”

As previously reported, a number of churches across America are moving away from traditional church settings in an effort to win the lost by presenting themselves as being “relevant” to the culture.

“It’s pretty low risk to wander into a bar or movie theater or hotel,” Professor Scott Thumma of the Hartford Institute for Religion Research told the New York Times. “It ends up delivering the message of relevance: we’re just like you, we’re struggling, we might have a beer together — and our faith is also relevant.”

However, some disagree with the concept of reinnovating church.

“Rather than relating with people by becoming like people, the Church is to present the glory of God,” Scott Brown of the Center for Family Integrated Churches exhorted. “When people come into the church, they should see a completely new kingdom, a completely new community. They should see how different God is than they are and how much more wonderful He is, and how His ways are much more beautiful than their ways.”

“Churches can meet in fields. Churches can meet in catacombs. Churches can meet in a traditional church building,” he noted. “But when the Church starts identifying with a [location other] than the imagery that God has provided, then the Church has really departed from historic Christianity.”


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  • christian

    they believe that God saves an infant through baptism. the same way we believe that God saves through the preaching of the Word. do you believe martin luther wasn’t a Christian? the majority of the church from believed in baptismal regeneration. even the nicean creed says “we believe in one baptism for the remission of sins” I’m not saying I believe in baptismal regeneration. please don’t misunderstand me. but to say the preach a false gospel is to misunderstand their position on baptism.

  • Mac

    I’ve flipped from the “wisdom-abstinence” position to the “wisdom-freedom” position. The turning point was the notion that one’s best course is to”just do the Bible.” This means that in its non-massaged and clear teaching, believers have freedom in Christ to exercise their own sound judgement related to biblically non-moral, non-legal issues, and with respect to their own conscience and awareness of whether the exercise of their freedom would entice a brother to sin (stumble). Assuming one is of legal age, and use does not violate conscience, then smoking or drinking legal products in moderation is not a sin. The potential sins are the risks of excess, addiction and idolatry…the same risks as things like gluttony and materialism. As was clear in both the time of the giving of the Law to Israel, and in our own times of massive legislation, the Law doesn’t have the power to make anyone holy…it only serves to point out violations. Thus, human legislation may provide controls on people, but keeping good-idea standards that aren’t biblical won’t have merit before God…otherwise, salvation could be obtained by defining and keeping our own standards, and not by faith in justifying work of Jesus at the cross. I’m guessing Jesus would have had no problem with a glass of wine, and a fine stogie while processing the Kingdom or other issues of the day with his guys. I’m also confident that He would have separated things he’d do during public worship-exhortation of the Word from things he’d do at a wedding celebration or mountain retreat. Context is king in these discussions.