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.
God has decreed that "The poor shall never cease out of the land" (Deut. xv: 11. In every age they are to be a living illustration, to the church, of the condition to which the King of kings condescended for the salvation alike of rich and poor. They are not to be slighted or neglected by the church founded by Him, who for our sakes became poor. They should be made as welcome, and treated as cordially in our churches, as those who are rich in this world's goods. If by overt act, or cold neglect they be excluded, Christ may say to such church in that day, inasmuch as ye have shown this disrespect unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have shown it unto me.
Sittings, or pews, may be secured for the poor in several ways;
1. Every third or fourth pew may be left for occupancy by the poor, or they may by assigned to particular families.
2. The pews on one side of each of the aisles may be reserved for the poor and strangers. If visitors should be sufficiently numerous, any invidious distinctions on account of poverty would be overcome.
3. Encouraging those who are able, to hire one or more pews to be occupied by the poor.
4. Seats may be assigned by the committee to all such as shall apply after being cordially invited.
5. Inducing the more wealthy to contribute to the formation of a fund, from which shall he paid all arrearages accumulating on the pews occupied by such as are really unable to pay in full the regular rental. If judiciously managed, this may aid in doing away with all humiliating distinctions.
6. If the income of the church is sufficient to permit, the poor may be allowed, with reasonable restric-tions, to rent pews at the schedule rates, with the understanding that what they lack, after making an honest effort to pay, should be cancelled by the sanction of the official board of the church. This action to take place at stated intervals, not exceeding one year.
7. By an honest and hearty spirit of cordiality upon the part of the entire congregation, making both rich and poor feel thoroughly at home in their pews; or, as another aptly expresses it: "It is hoped that such a spirit will prevail, that each member will be willing to pay the highest price he is able, and that, too, for the poorest sitting in the house; and then be ready to give that up every Sunday to strangers, or, which is better, to fill it with sinners whom he shall bring in, while he himself sits in the aisle or on a chair in the corner. This is the principle of sacrifice which lies at the foundation of our religion. 'Christ pleased not Himself.' Neither should we. We must have the spirit of Christ, else we are none of His. The church can make rapid progress upon no other principle."
Other ways may suggest themselves. In a large and wealthy congregation in the state of New York, in remodeling their church, to avoid the crowding of the poor into the gallery, or in some corner of the church, the seats were removed from the gallery, the space laid off into compartments, carpeted, supplied with comfortable chairs, and rented at a high price by the more wealthy, in order to allow more space for the poor and strangers, who were furnished some of the best sittings in the church. This, and like efforts, are commendable.