This section is from the "How To Pay Church Debts And How To Keep Churches Out Of Debt" book, by Rev. Sylvanus Stall. Amazon: How To Pay Church Debts And How To Keep Churches Out Of Debt.
The joint-ownership plan consists in an agreement upon the part of those interested to subscribe to the building fund, with the condition that the value of the subscription be returned, upon the completion of the building, in a title-deed to one or more pews. An opportunity is given also to new-comers, after the edifice is completed, to share in the property by purchase of pews. A Presbyterian pastor in New York city says of it: "This is a safe business arrangement provided "1. That the full amount needed is thus subscribed in advance.
"2. That the pew-owners will be responsible, each for his share of the expense of support, so long as they own pews.
"3. That the church is not hampered by the terms of the title-deeds in regard to the amount of annual tax to be assessed.
"But usually the full amount is not subscribed nor the pews all sold, and the result is: (a.) Two classes of pew-holders - owners and lessees. (b.) Two grades of assessments. We have known churches where the assessment upon pews held in fee was fixed forty years ago at an insignificant rate, and thus three-quarters of the expenses of the church came upon the minority of the congregation, who, as new-comers, rented pews. (c.) Pew-owners leaving the church abandon their property if unsalable. Morally, and we believe legally they are still under obligations to the amount of the annual assessment, but the obligation is not likely to be enforced."
This plan was at one time quite generally used among the Presbyterian churches in the State of New York, but the principles upon which it rests and the difficulties it has encountered have caused it to be largely superseded by other methods.
The objections are: (a.) That the success of the enterprise is made to rest upon worldly and selfish principles, rather than upon the scriptural principle of giving our offerings and church to God. (b.) It is likely to occasion much difficulty when the old rights of proprietorship are encroached upon by any remodeling of the church, or the replacing of the old structure by a new one. (c.) Persons who have become offended, under the protection of their individual proprietorship, not desiring to attend worship have nailed their pews shut, or taken an axe and chopped their seats into kindling-wood.
For a consideration of this plan in relation to meeting the annual expenses of the church, see page 125.