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.
Where seats are rented there are usually found such as are glad to escape the payment of the same by the use of any and every unprincipled pretext. At the end of each quarter the collector is evaded, or some fault is found with the minister, the church wardens, or some body, or some thing, until finally the year is past and the rent remains unpaid. Frequently this class of people occupy some of the choicest sittings - sittings which could easily be rented to good and re-sponsible parties, if this dishonest class could only be gotten rid of. To meet this class of persons the author,in his first charge, found it necessary to devise some plan which would make fruitless excuses, such as: "When some of the men who are officers in the church shall pay me what they owe me, then I will pay the church." "The members of the church have wronged and injured me and I don't intend to contribute to the support of such an organization." "The party sitting just in front of me has a more desirable pew, and yet pays less rent than you ask of me. If this is the unequal and unfair way the church is to be run, I do not propose to pay another cent." To meet these and a multitude of other excuses equally as sensible (!) agreements printed as the sample given below, and bound in cheap form, served an excellent purpose:
These agreements tend to secure prompt payments. There can be no disputing the fact that the parties really rented a pew. Neither can they dispute the price, nor the length of time agreed upon. It secures the church against financial loss by parties removing during the year. To save the five per cent, few will allow the fifteen days to expire, and the treasurer or collector will be spared much unpleasant work in going around making collections. These and other advantages attend its use.
The fear that any would refuse to sign it will prove groundless, if the leading members of the church will but set the example, and then make no exception to the rule. We have never known any one to refuse to sign the agreements, and when once signed, the petty excuses were no longer encountered, but all paid promptly, and the church lost no more money by bad debts of this sort.
There are many persons who are sensitive about receiving a pew-rent notice, but church business must be done in a business-like manner. It should, therefore, be announced that at regular intervals notices will be mailed to each and every person indebted to the church. Should there be any who object to receiving such notice, they may easily avoid the same by paying in advance.
The following may suggest a form of pew-rent notice: