It really doesn't matter if it's the pastor at the local corner church, or some lone ranger on a youtube channel. They all think they alone are right. They've established their little piece of the religious pie, and are intent on getting anyone they can to take a bite out of it. These range from the scholarly to the absolute ridiculous - harping about on the latest thing that catches their eye that no one's doing, but they feel everyone must do. Yet, in spite of all of this, there is one thing that they all nearly universally agree on - tithing.
From the weird to the wacko to the strange and the destitute to the socially awkward to the pulpit pounder, you will find they all agree that you must fund their life so they can get their message out. Yet, in this day and age of free youtube and live broadcasting - why do they need your money to do it? They already have cable internet, or you wouldn't be seeing the message in the first place. They have a computer or they wouldn't have a way to broadcast the message. What they are really asking for is that you - as a watcher, or even a follower - would recognize the "calling" they recognize and then give them your money as agreement that they are God's mouthpiece for whatever it is they are so zealous about. Once you agree, whether it's a youtube "preacher" or a full on church member, you're in "the system".
Now, this isn't to say that there isn't good out there in the world of corporate Christianity. But the bottom line of corporate Christianity is very simple - it's the word "Corporate". The religious industry is big business. It's tax-free, supposedly charitable non-profit business which rakes in millions to even billions of dollars, often pastors and denominations benefiting the most from the deal with some notable and worthy exceptions. Many not-so-worthy individuals would love to get into that system with intentions that are not so good. And many already have.
From the background and experience of my life growing up in an Armstrongism Cult, many of these individuals have risen from the muck. Not of their own power, but because the muck has drained and their sorry heads pop out looking for whatever and whoever they can devour with their own pithy propaganda, believing they and they alone are God's Mouthpiece for "this end time" generation, joining the thousands and thousands of others who believe the same thing of themselves. Instead of getting out there in the business of love and service, as the hands and the feet of Jesus, they exalt themselves as whatever figure they see themselves at and dupe the fragile in the process. And the cycle repeats itself, over and over again.
"Look for the helpers", Mr. Fred Rogers would often teach. Perhaps his lesson was the best lesson - to avoid the pitfalls and snares of Corporate Americanized Christianity with all of its love of money - and rejoin what true Christianity is - the simple act of helping, of loving, of caring, of giving, of being a kind and good person. Because - to all those who think they are somebody and they really are not - it's not about you - it never has been about you - and it never will be. It's about how you show Jesus to others, and even the world in your life. It's not about buildings, or bank accounts, or trees, or calendars, or this thing, or that thing. It's not about what day you worship, it's about how you worship, in spirit and truth, or lies and deception. It's not about if you go to Church in a suit and tie, but if you're willing to be "a helper" when the need arises. It's about being a light. It's about being the one people look to not because you are yelling at them to look at you, but because you are one of the helpers - a good and bright example of Jesus.
In my background, we were taught not to be "helpers". We were taught to be inclusive. Introverted. Self-withdrawn. "Away from the world". The only ones we helped were ourselves. It is this introverted legacy that infiltrates cultic thinking and even corporate Christianity. There's much more to life than what's shallow. Living is being a helper. And you don't have to glorify yourself to be just that.