You’ve tithed all your life to a church, dutifully giving that 10% “back to God” as you were taught. But then something happened. A loved one came out. Or you came out. Or Trump got elected. Or the pandemic happened. But something caused you to become disenchanted with Christianity and begin deconstructing.
And now you don’t go to church anymore.
So what to you do with your money when you want to make a difference and no longer attend church? Here are four suggestions:
1. Support artists/creatives in the progressive faith space
I could give you a litany of names of people doing incredible good in the world despite (or more likely because of) their experience as exvangelicals — people whose work is fresh air for our souls, yet they are struggling to make ends meet.
Grassroots work is hard. Paying the bills as a creative is even harder. Some write books on affirming theology. Some produce podcasts about deconstruction. Some reinvent affirming music for faith spaces. Some are walking artists helping the world slow down and be present to what’s around them. Some intertwine music with meditation or yoga.
All these are artistic expressions we desperately need for our souls to feel alive right now, yet none of these things pays the bills well. These people move between traditional income streams, often living donation to donation. Yet they persist because they truly believe in what they’re doing. It’s where they’ve found life, and they want to extend that same gift to others.
The Patreon platform is a great way to connect with these kinds of artists and creatives. It allows you to partner with them financially on a monthly basis and be an integral part of what makes their work happen. Living gig to gig is hard on anybody, but Patreon provides an element of predictability and sustainability that allows artists to thrive.
2. Support affirming churches (struggling to make ends meet)
Even if you don’t attend church, there are many affirming churches that could use your support. Many of these churches paid a great cost when they took a stand to become affirming or inclusive or supportive of women or concerned about ministry outside the walls of the church.
“Many of these churches paid a great cost when they took a stand.”
They’ve lost funding, been defrocked, been kicked out of their denomination and/or watched their membership (and tithes) dwindle. The pandemic greatly affected these communities as well, when people began finding meaning in gathering in different ways when we couldn’t gather indoors. It made it hard to bounce back.
Some of these churches didn’t survive. Others are hanging by a thread doing everything they can because they believe in the importance of providing affirming spaces for queer people or women or minorities or progressive theology.
Support of these faith spaces is one of the most critical and important investments you could make at this point in history. Your support allows them to continue to provide safe spaces for LGBTQ people who still desire to be part of a faith community that embraces all of them.
3. Support organizations fighting against anti-LGBTQ and anti-trans laws
There are organizations working diligently to fight against the copious amount of anti-trans, anti-LGBTQ and anti-drag queen bills currently overwhelming our nation. More than 525 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in 41 states this year alone, and more than 75 have become law.
These groups need support to continue the fight. The Human Rights Campaign is an excellent resource for keeping up to date on legislation and how to use your money (and your time) to make the most impact.
4. Support mental health therapy for marginalized people
LGBTQ people are twice as likely to have mental health disorders in their lifetimes as heteronormative men and women, and two and a half times more likely to experience depression, anxiety or substance misuse. But because of income disparity, mental health therapy and care for LGBTQ people often become unaffordable or unattainable.
Those in the LGBTQ community are disproportionately subject to mental health disorders due to homophobia, transphobia, dysphoria, trauma and violence, and they also experience much higher risk of suicide.
Compared to their peers, LGBTQ youth are more than four times as likely to attempt suicide. Only 37 % of LGBTQ youth say their home is affirming, and those who face high levels of parental rejection are eight times more likely to attempt suicide and six times more likely to experience high levels of depression.
A 2019 study from The Trevor Project also found that “LGBTQ youth who report having at least one accepting adult were 40% less likely to report a suicide attempt in the past year.” One accepting adult. That is all it takes. Just one.
While there are many organizations working to provide good mental health care for the queer community, a couple that specifically engage with LGBTQ people with religious trauma are The Christian Closet and Khesed Wellness. Both offer scholarship options or reduced fees to those who need them so that everyone, regardless of income, has access to mental health care. The Trevor Project is also a phenomenal resource that supports LGBTQ youth who are feeling suicidal.
All these options have the potential to make a beautiful and life-giving difference in the world. Your support and investment could be what helps save the life of someone living on the edge, desperately looking for a loving and supportive presence.
If you’re not giving an offering through a church anymore, consider being on mission another way. You never know whose lives you might touch (or save).
Amber Wylde is a national speaker, community healer and the author of three books. Her newest book, Out of Focus: My Story of Sexuality, Shame and Toxic Evangelicalism, releases October 2023. As a gay woman living with the invisible disability of both Lyme disease and rheumatoid arthritis, Amber specializes in bringing messages of diversity, hope and self-acceptance to those who have been pushed to the margins. She is host of the Unashamed Love Collective — a safe haven for LGBTQ people and allies that fosters supportive community. She also leads Cultivating Community Retreats — small, intimate group gatherings that build lasting relationships with like-minded people. Learn more at Patreon.com/AmberCantornaWylde, on social media @AmberCantornaWylde or online at AmberCantornaWylde.com.
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