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.
In presenting some of the results of system in securing the contributions of the churches, let us consider - I. The effect upon the cause, and II. The good which results to the individual contributor.
I. Let us take a church of 350 members, and let us suppose that each of these members can lay aside a fraction over three cents a day. "How many days in the week do most of us let that amount slip through our fingers without knowing whither it goes, and without feeling the outlay? We have thus twenty-five cents a week, or twelve dollars a year, from each member. This would give us, from communicants alone, $4,200 annually. Now, supposing one fifth of this number, or seventy members, can lay by fifty cents a week. This adds $910 a week. And supposing that one-twenty-fifth of this number could contribute a dollar a week. Fourteen members would thus add $364. This gives us, from communicants alone, $5,474; and the heaviest amount paid by any individual would be $52. When you reflect that there are those who annually contribute from three to ten times that amount for the benevolent objects of the church alone, you find the amount running up very rapidly. For instance, let us say that, in addition to their $52. there are five men who give $200 a year among the various collections, and there is $1,000 more - $0,474 from the communicants only. And now we will go outside of these three hundred and fifty communicants. Let us assume that there are one hundred and fifty persons, not members of the church, who can and will give twenty-five cents a week, and we add $1,950, making a total of $8,424, and still $252 is the largest amount given by any individual.
"This estimate is made for a strong and prosperous church, and is purposely within bounds. The church in question could raise this amount on that simple plan, and never feel it. Any pastor, knowing the ability of his congregation, can easily make a similar computation according to the number and means of his people. And in any case he will find that the peo-ple will be astonished at his figures, which will show them how a little system will enable them to double, and sometimes to treble, their contributions without feeling a burden."*
After the introduction of a regular system of weekly offerings for benevolent purposes by the Congregational churches of Providence, R. I., in writing of the results of the plan, Rev. George Harris says:
*Rev. Marvin R. Vincent, D. D., in "How Much and How to Give."
"The youngest church in Providence, the Pilgrim Chinch, adopted the system in 1875. In 1874 that church had contributed for all objects. $479. In 1875, by the method of weekly offerings, its contributions amounted to $1,6S6.97, about four times as much, and in 1876 to $2,397.97, five times as much. The Union Church adopted the system in 1873, and has the credit of introducing it. The amount given by that church the previous year was $3,540.88; in 1874 to the same objects, $5,064.69, and since that time the amount has increased still more. The Central Church, of which I am pastor, adopted the system in October, 1876. Our contributions during the preceding year were $3,-600; last year the weekly offerings amounted to $7,-674.11. The number of givers in the Union Church increased from 62 to 187, and then to 210; in the Central Church from 95 to to 283. This large increase of givers and of gifts has been made during a period of business depression which is almost unprecedented, and when nearly every family has suffered pecuniary loss, directly or indirectly; yet all are ready to con-tinue as they have begun, and even to make some addition to the amount given."
It is evident that a good system would: 1. Secure larger contributions. 2 It would reach the one-half or two-thirds who now give nothing at all. 3. It would substitute principle for impulse. 4. It would diminish the expenses of benevolent societies by doing away with the present necessity of sending out solicitors and agents. 5. It would enable the boards and.various benevolent societies to go forth in their might to accomplish the great work assigned to them.
II. The results which would come to the contributor from the faithful use of a plan of constant giving are very numerous. 1. He would enjoy all the temporal blessings which God has promised to such as are faithful stewards of his material wealth. 2. It would abate the force of avarice. 3. It would convert giving into a source of pleasure. As Mr. Pea-body said to a rich man: "It is sometimes hard for one who has devoted the best part of his life to the accumulation of money to spend it for others; but practice it and keep on practicing it, and I assure you it comes to be a pleasure." 4. It would increase the giver's means of usefulness. 5. Systematic giving tends to cultivate exactness and system in the transaction of business, and thus to secure success. 6. It will quicken a more earnest desire for the conversion of all men. 7. It will aid in counteracting every influence which would lead to dishonesty in business. 8. It will, if used in the right spirit, prepare the contributor for God's blessing in time and eternal happiness in heaven.
But the custom of universal worship in giving accomplishes another grand result in addition to increasing the facilities of the church and enlarging her usefulness. Each contribution increases the interest of the contributor in the church and her charities. England could pay her national debt if she desired, but her policy is not to pay it. By having a national debt a safe investment is afforded for the people, and on account of this money invested in the government, each and every bondholder is made to feel an abiding, personal interest in the stability and prosperity of the government. When a subject of the crown purchases a portion of the national loan, it is as though he paid his money to purchase for himself an enlarged patriotism. The same principle holds true in the church. The men who care little or nothing whether the par-ticular church with which they are associated is built up or torn down, are they not almost without exception of those who contribute little or nothing toward the support of the church? They have no treasure there, neither have they any heart there. Those who contribute most, in proportion to their ability, purchase most interest in the success and usefulness of the church. Augustine says: "We give earth, and receive heaven. We give the temporal, and receive the eternal. We give things corruptible, and receive the immortal. Lastly, we give what God has bestowed, and receive God himself. Let us not be slothful in such a commerce as this. Let us not continue poor."