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 permanent subscription does not of necessity suffer all the disadvantages of the annual subscription. If it does not leave the time and mode of payment optional with each subscriber, but affords some reliable guarantee that the money will be forthcoming in due time to meet the demands of the cause, then it may, with judicious management, attain a more worthy rank among other methods. It is permanent only in that it requires no annual renewals. Changes are from time to time to be made in the amounts. Each year will witness commercial changes. Some of moderate means will grow wealthy, while sickness or financial reverses will render others less able to contribute. "Paul says (2 Cor., viii., 13, 14. that he will not have one eased and another burdened in these matters, but that there be an equality - he means a proportionate equality. Men of large property in the church, who wish to obey the Word of God, do well to remember that a contribution of $500 from a man worth $500,000 is far less burdensome than one of $5 from a widow whose entire estate would not bring $500. Nevertheless, the widow should give her share. And where any member seems to be falling below his proportionate equality in bearing the church expenses, the church should, in a kind and fraternal spirit, call his attention to the subject."
Because the subscription bears the name of "permanent," it is liable to be neglected or forgotten. This should not be the case, but at least twice each year it should be examined with a view to increase and additions.
As the subscription does not require annual renewal, the time and labor heretofore expended in soliciting funds, year by year, may be turned into other channels, the only work needed being for the filling of vacancies as they occur.
It is always best to make a full estimate of all the probable expenses of the church for the ensuing year, allowing a liberal amount for contingent expenses, and then before starting the committee to secure subscriptions, it is better to apportion the entire amount among all members and attendants. Each member of every family, even to the small children, should be invited to subscribe something. In this way the amount will not only be greatly increased, but all will be exercised in this means of grace, and those who are soon to occupy the places of their seniors in the church will be accustomed to contribute, and future years will reveal the beneficent results of this method. By all means have the children contribute something. This, however, must be done in such a way as to aug-ment the amounts subscribed by the older members of the family, or the church will fall into the pitiable plight of being entirely dependent upon the children or the Sunday-school. The church should support the Sunday-school, and not the Sunday-school the church.
If the results of the subscription are not sufficient to meet the estimated expenditure, it is doubtless best to renew the effort at once; or by general consent, secured at first, or subsequently, add to the amounts already subscribed such a uniform percentage as the circumstances may require. This would let the balance fall equally upon all.
Each subscription is to remain in force until some specified officer of the church shall have been notified in writing by any seeking release from the amount subscribed. This is essential, or the church will be left with arrearages by the failure of parties to pay the amount the church had a right to expect.
Collections should be faithfully and regularly made. Notices should be sent monthly to those in arrears. These may be of various forms. The following is a sample:
Or, if thought preferable, the congregation may be divided into several districts, each of these having a collector, who shall keep the accounts of all subscribers residing in his district, and each of the collectors shall render a regular monthly statement, in writing, to the treasurer. Care must always be exercised in the selection of collectors, and all must understand that the money is to be paid to the treasurer promptly. The treasurer should also render a quarterly statement to the vestry of the church; this may be simply a written statement of amounts received and disbursed, or it may be an itemized account. Let the money of the church be guarded, so as to protect the character of the collectors and treasurer, and this will at the same time protect the church. A clear and explicit statement should be rendered annually to the congregation; this should be printed and freely distributed. It will more than pay the expense, in the rich return of confidence. This method may be made:
1. To provide for the expenses of the church at the beginning of the year.
2. To conveniently furnish the money to meet all bills as they become due.
3. To do away with the necessity of continual, or repeated begging at the stated services of the Sabbath.
4. It may also be made to supersede the necessity of oyster suppers, festivals, dramatic exhibitions and the like, which, defend them as best we may, are of questionable tendencies, and attended with damaging results.
5. This method may be made to lead the way to the introduction of the envelope system, and the giving of the scriptural tithe.