A new tithing gimmick has been introduced into the Southern Baptist Convention, by Ed Young, Jr. at the SBC's Fellowship Church.
Last year Ed Young pulled a stunt to try and collect checking account and bank routing numbers from his people to allow Fellowship Church to auto-withdraw their tithe.
This year the salesman Ed Young is trying a new tithing gimmick: a money-back tithing pledge. Ed distributed tithing commitment cards to be signed by all members last Sunday for them to commit to tithe 10% of all their income for seven-weeks, and if they are not satisfied with the blessings Ed has promised they will receive, Ed says he will give "God's money" back!
Ed says in the video above:
"Here's the deal: this is the 'God challenge'. This is a money-back guarantee, is what I'm sayin'. In other words, we have 7 weekends from now until the end of the year. And I'm going to ask you to sign up. If God does not bless your life and show up in huge ways, we'll give you God's money back. [scant applause]. I'll say it again. I know it's hard to believe, a church doing this. You do this for seven weeks, make sure you participate in a way that we can track it in our financial office, we'll give you God's money, ha ha, did you get that, God's money, back!"
Let's analyze this:
- first of all, it is absolutely amazing that Ed says while laughing heartily, that "we will give you God's money back" (watch the video, I looped this laugh several times, it is incredibly revealing). I think he laughed accidentally at the ridiculousness that it is "God's money". Ed knows it is not. The entire premise of his sermon was that your first 10% of your income is not yours, it is "God's portion", and it belongs to God. According to Ed you can't even "give" it, you can only "bring" it, since it is not yours. But if the money is God's then on what authority does Ed claim the right to give it BACK to you? This gimmick actually shows that Ed doesn't believe his own nonsense - if that money you give - sorry, I mean bring - to Fellowship Church is holy and God's property, Ed certainly would understand he has no right to give it back to you. But it is Ed's money once you give it, and he can give it back.
- does Ed not fear the God he preaches about? The bible says he is a jealous God, and would not share his power or glory with anyone. Yet here is beautiful, blonde Ed Young in his skinny jeans, telling people that giving 10% to his church will unlock all sorts of blessings. God is a genie, and he is released from his magic lamp when he sees you put in 10% of your income to the collection bags at Fellowship Church. But now Ed removes even the requirement to trust God because God has apparently anointed Ed Young to manage God's storehouse. Ed will take your money, but he has the power to give it back to you.
- I know of no one who donates their hard earned money to their church, or to the United Way, or to a rescue mission, that expects ANYTHING in return. What does this guarantee offer say about how Ed views Christians? He thinks people are stupid enough to believe that 10% of their income is the magic key to blessings, that 8% or 9% means God's cursings and 10% means blessings. Then he thinks people are stupid enough to be motivated to give to their church by their pastor promising something in return. Hey Ed, people donate to your church or to any 501(c)3 non-profit because they believe in the ministry or cause and they don't expect anything in return.
- God can't be confined to the limits of a 7-week test defined by Ed Young, Jr. God may or may not bless someone between now and the end of the year, whether they do or do not tithe. How about a test to see if someone gets blessed WITHOUT tithing? Ed's ploy is pure poppycock and gimmickry, and I feel sorry for any person at Fellowship Church foolish enough to play into Ed's scheme by signing that card.
- do we need any further evidence to demonstrate that Ed and the other first-fruit tithing teachers are peddlers of the gospel for profit? Only companies selling things for a profit offer money-back guarantees. When will the IRS begin taxing these mega temples? They are salesmen at heart. As I wrote back in 2008 and then in 2010, Ed himself acknowledges the intense pressure he has as the church's "franchise player", responsible for raising money, when he said:
"We're responsible [pastors] every year, we're the main one, that raises money. I call pastors the 'franchise player' because we're the ones who are responsible before God for raising money...every year I've stared a lot of money in the face, and I know at the end of the day it's up to me to raise that money...and now it's many, many millions of dollars, and that's a taxing thing."
There you have it: Ed has to "raise" the millions. I thought it was God who did it all, that he was sovereign over matters in his church. But no, apparently God needs Ed and other franchise-player-pastors to raise the money, thus we see these cheesy gimmicks like this money-back guarantee to extract more money from trusting Christians.
- interesting how the money back clause is worded: "If at the end of 7 weeks you believe that God did not honor his word and pour out blessings in your life, then Fellowship will give God's money back to you promptly." So you have to call God a liar to get your money back, saying he didn't honor his word. Actually, it should read: "If you discover at the end of 7 weeks that Ed Young's claim of blessings for tithing is nothing more than a gimmick to get his hands on your money, then we will give you your money back." Can you imagine being put on the list of people at Fellowship that called God a liar and asked for "God's money" back? Might be a sure way to not be asked to serve in any capacity at the church, right?
- will Fellowship Church require you to show that you gave 10% of your income in order to get your money back? After all, if all you did was give 9% of your income, and come and claim God didn't honor his word and bless you, you didn't keep your end of the bargain. Of course God won't bless you at 9%, right? So get ready to hand your tax forms over to the finance department of the church so they can confirm that you indeed were tithing on the gross for 7 consecutive weeks.
This is a just a repackaged form of the false prosperity gospel that is peddled by televangelists that has now made its way into the Southern Baptist Convention. You give to get blessed, and you call God's hand by tithing, he HAS to bless you.
I'm still trying to figure out which is worse: this tithing gimmickry by Ed Young, or James Merritt peddling FHTMC, a suspected pyramid scheme, in his church.
Either way, the Southern Baptist mega church pastors, the "franchise players", need your money, and they will go to any lengths to separate you from your money, even under false pretenses, even during the holiday season.