Church services are not always the most thrilling events. Everyone knows this, especially pastors who are in charge of such events. You can’t be on your A Game all the time.
You all have it pretty easy today. Most periods of church history had much longer church services. Marathon sermons and prayers that took up a large portion of your Sunday.
What’s a pastor to do if church services are boring and they last a long time?
Invent a new church office: The Tithingman.
The Tithingman’s job was two-fold.
First, he made sure people actually showed up to church. If he caught you somewhere other than church on a Sunday, or saw you walking through town, he’d jump out and drag you into church. How he did this while being in church himself is still beyond my mental capacities.
Secondly, he made sure people in church were behaving, or as was more likely the case, not sleeping. He was given a long stick. One end was sharp and the other had a softer thing on it, like a feather or rabbit’s foot.
The Tithingman would go ahead and whack a sleeping man or an unruly child. Women got the soft end and a little nudge. Either way, they woke up. If you persisted in your disrespect to the church, the Tithingman had the right to punish you, often with time in the public stocks.
Although we often look back at history as darker times and people who were backward, the Tithingman seems like a really good idea. I’m all for it.