How to determine your value as a church member

How to determine your value as a church member January 15, 2014

value church member cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward

I pastored local churches for about 30 years. I know how important money can become in the life of a church. I also know how easy it is to see people only in terms of their usefulness and what they can contribute, including financially.

The whole idea of tithing is rooted in an entirely different time, culture and religion. So when you hear someone like Pastor Ed Young berate his congregation of thousands that it is all about the money, and that if they don’t tithe they shouldn’t come to church, you might feel pulled back in time a couple thousand years. Or maybe not. Maybe just yesterday. For Young it’s all about the money only because he’s made it so. He’s created a kingdom that requires the sacrifice of its subjects. You can watch the video clip here. (Trigger warning: be prepared to get slapped around.)

My immediate thought was why would people subject themselves to this kind of nonsense and abuse? Then I remembered that even though Young has pushed the theological idea of tithing to its legalistic and vindictive extreme, the overwhelming majority of people seem to require and request rules, and the employment of shame, guilt, fear and intimidation to obey them.

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  • Al Cruise

    I have always advocated that Church’s should have a “WARNING ” sign outside the front door. “Attending here may cause severe Spiritual, emotional and physical harm”. enter at your on risk. Similar warnings are done with tobacco, alcohol, household cleaners and pesticides. .

  • Trevor Morgan

    That is an odd video.

    Odd, because at the end of his rant, there are still people sitting in the audience listening to him. Why would you voluntarily sit through someone haranguing you like that when you could just walk out?

  • R Vogel

    Whew! I remember growing up in a church were at least once a year we got the Tithing sermon! Two hours of guilt trip. Unfortunately the pastor never let you know ‘The time or place’ so there was no way to avoid it. Brutal!

  • Trevor Magee

    Hey Dave, do you have a good resource for the idea that tithing is no longer a requirement? I would appreciate it

  • Melita G

    “the overwhelming majority of people seem to require and request rules, and the employment of shame, guilt, fear and intimidation to obey them”

    Unfortunately, this is true whether in church or out of it. What church christians don’t understand is that their is no difference between them and the “world” in regards to a legalistic system that labels you “good” or “bad” according to your works (as well as the measurement of our value and usefulness for that matter). It is just the rules that are different. And we were taught these rules (whatever they may be) and made to obey them via shame, guilt, fear and intimidation through physical and emotional violence from the first moment we contradicted our parents. The cycle of abuse begins in childhood and we have all grown up with the belief that it is normal. Psychologically speaking it is a case of widespread and perennially pervasive Stockholme Syndrome. Each generation consistantly defending and perpetuating the abuse of the last. The church has only put God’s stamp of approval on it.

  • He has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever ’til the end of time!

    But He loves you.

    He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money! He’s all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can’t handle money! Religion takes in billions of dollars, they pay no taxes, and they always need a little more.

    ~St. Carlin

  • Melita G

    The illusion of the conviction of the Holy Spirit… which is really an emotional response to something being very wrong and the turmoil experienced when these feelings contradict all you’ve been taught by the church and its Pastor, who has set him/herself up as the supreme anointed authority under God and is due utmost and unquestionable respect. Corporate brainwashing at its finest.

  • Those darn Free Methodists, who insisted on “free pews” for everyone, have really ruined the salvation-mongering racket. 😉

  • klhayes

    So the poor people that the church helps cannot actually come to church if they cannot tithe? How twisted is that?!

  • klhayes

    They fear eternal damnation. That is what keeps them in the pews.

  • Hey Trevor. My friend Cynthia McClaskey has written an impassioned argument against it and did a lot of research. She used my cartoons to illustrate her book as well:

  • Al Cruise


  • Trevor Magee

    thanks Dave just ordered it

  • wanderer

    … which deepens the impact of it exponentially. To see other people rating you by your monetary worth is one thing, but when you think god is doing the same thing and has power over your soul, it’s a whole nother deal.

  • Mark

    Funny that. I spent most of my adult life working to get closer to tithing to my church, and I basically got there, If I could consider giving 1/10th of my take-home pay as tithing. But then that voice woke up and said, “what you’re doing is paying the light bill, and the water bill, and especially, the mortgage on the new gym/family life center. You’re not helping end hunger or poverty.” So now I have started cutting back on my giving to my church, and sending more to charities which ACTUALLY DO try to feed the hungry and end poverty. If we can’t find a place to park at church, maybe the solution is not more parking lots, but carpooling. With our “neighbor.”

  • Al Cruise

    I agree Mark. Jesus said it well, love your neighbor as yourself. Be loving and compassionate, and along with common sense, help where you can, doesn’t matter how big or small or what day of the week , and you will be tithing in truth and in Spirit, where there’s no score to to keep.

  • Mark

    Man, my son just yesterday introduced me to . If you aren’t familiar with them, you seriously need to check it out!

  • Stan Theman

    The best thing to do? Remove the tax breaks and clergy housing allowances from the law and make churches pay their fair share of taxes. Stop subsidizing religion.

  • Todd Wilhelm

    Searching for my “like” button!