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 weekly contribution method, connecting the offertory with each public service, possesses many excellent features. "When, in 1842, the Free Church of Scotland was by a quick stroke cut off from governmental support, and had at once to provide for church buildings, manses, salaries, schools, colleges, the poor, church extension at home, foreign missions and all, it did so by returning to a system of weekly offerings."
Diocesan Convention Fund.
(a.) It makes giving a part of the regular worship of the sanctuary. "They shall not appear before the Lord empty; every man shall give as he is able." (b.) It is frequent, and crystallizes impulse into principle. (c.) It reaches all who attend upon divine worship. It is far better for the churches, and the cause of religion, to have five hundred dollars paid by one or two hundred persons, than to have the same amount paid by one or two wealthy individuals, or even by twenty or thirty. It is not simply to secure the people's money, but to render the people more unselfish and more like Him, who gave even himself for us. (d.) It exercises the people in a Christian grace. The apostle says: "See that ye abound in this grace also."
A Basket Collection. - The following plan has been in successful operation in the Shady Side Presbyterian Church, of Pittsburg:
"A contribution for the benevolent work of the church is taken every Sabbath morning. From these funds the following specified amounts are deducted, viz.: For the support of the Sabbath-school, $12.50 per month; for the 'Commissioners' and Contingent Fund of the General Assembly,' the Sessional and Deacons' Fund of our own church, $25 per month, and for the support of missions within the bounds of our own city and Presbytery, from $8 to $12 per month, at the discretion of the session. The balance of the funds are distributed monthly to the several boards and committees having charge of the benevolent work of the church, under the General Assembly, on the basis of the following schedule:
25 per cent.
Home Missions ....
Church erection .....
"The session reserves the right 10 set apart any Sab-bath for the purpose of taking a collection for any special object they may deem proper - the congregation always to be notified in advance of said purpose. Any person desiring to contribute directly, or to make a special contribution to any object, whether in the above list or not, is permitted to do so by accompanying their contributions with a card, indicating their wish."
The pastor, Rev. William T. Beatty, says of it: "The above plan has more than met the expectations of the congregation; it has secured larger contributions than we ever realized before; it has been less burdensome; it has given every opportunity for the presentation of the claims of the boards, and it has supplied a fund from which the officers of the church can meet the assessments of the higher judications, and from which they can draw for such other expenses as arc legitimate, without the necessity of a separate appeal, or a special collection."
As congregations ought to know not only the needs of any object, but also what they are giving to aid it, it is suggested to pastors that they should publicly state the amount received on the Sabbath following a collection, so as to satisfy a desire for information, to stimulate benevolence, and to afford matter for prayer, humility and thankfulness. Also, that, before every public collection, blank cards and pencils be placed in every pew for the use of those not prepared with money. A collection is often doubled in amount by this simple precaution. At the public collections for the several boards a much larger amount than usual can often be raised by giving the congregation a definite object to accomplish. State how much is desired for the object.
An Envelope Plan. - In 1873 an envelope system of weekly offerings was introduced into the Congregational churches of Providence, R. I., which secured the most satisfactory results. We present the plan as given by Rev. George Harris in the Congregation-alist in November, 1877:
Benevolent Offerings Of The Congregational Church And Congregation, Providence.
Please mark with an '-' in the column on
the left the sum you are willing to pledge as a
weekly offering to the Lord, for the year begin-
ning October 1, 1876 (using a blank space if
you select a sum not mentioned).
Write your name and residence at the bot-
tom of this card, and deposit it in the contri-
bution box on the following Sabbath.
A package of small envelopes will then be
furnished you (one for each week.)
Each Lord's day enclose the amount of your
weekly offering in the envelope which bears
that date, and place it sealed in one of the
boxes at the doors of the church.
In case of absence for one or more Sundays,
enclose the whole amount due with the next
offering that is made, and destroy the enve-
lopes that have not been used.
This pledge being purely voluntary, may be
recalled at any time by giving notice to the
(Card, Reverse Side.)
1. Foreign Missions.
2. Home Missions.
3. American Missionary Association. For Freedmen.
4. Cause of Education.
6. Woman's Board of Foreign Missions.
9. General Fund.
Please indicate how you wish the sum total of your offerings for the year to be divided, by marking above against the names of such objects as you may select the amount you wish to give to each. The sum total of your offerings for the year will be 52 times your weekly donation.
All gifts not otherwise designated will go into the General Fund, to be disposed of by vote of the Standing Committee of the church.
Gifts designed for any special object, and marked with the name of the object, can be placed in the boxes at the door (with or without donor's name), and will be forwarded to their destination.
This system of weekly offerings has been adopted by the church, and the hearty co-operation of all members of the congregation, both young and old, is cordially invited.
Each one is given "a box containing fifty-two small envelopes, dated October 1, October 8, October 15, and so on to the end of the year. Every Sunday he encloses the amount he has pledged and drops it into the box as he enters the church. If he has been absent, the envelopes tell their own story; he sees that some have not been used, and encloses the whole amount due in the envelope for the day.
"This system secures the small gifts of a congregation, and swells them into a large volume. For nine persons in ten it is easier to give twenty-five cents a week than to give thirteen dollars once a year - it is easier to give a dollar every week than to give fifty-two dollars at one time. How much do you think the contributions of five cents a week amounted to in my church last year? Fifty-eight persons gave five cents a week, and the sum total was $153.70. If one should go out to get $153 from gifts of only five cents, he would say I do not know people enough to give it. Fifty persons gave ten cents each every week, and the sum total of their offerings was $265 - two hundred and sixty-five dollars in ten-cent pieces. Thirty-three persons gave twenty-five cents each week, and together gave $437.25, and the entire amount given in sums ranging from one cent to twenty-five cents was $1,119.84. Thirty-two persons gave fifty cents each week, and their total was $848. Fourteen persons gave one dollar each week, and together contributed $742, while the whole amount in sums of from one cent to one dollar a week was $3,094.14, and was given by 262 of the 283 givers. Those who gave more than one dollar a week were our large givers before, although their gifts increased under the new system; but I have very little doubt that nine-tenths of the $3,000 was clear gain; that but very little of it would have been gathered into occasional collections. Here is a weighty argument in favor of the weekly system, and although some of the givers made sacrifices, it is likely that the great majority were scarcely aware that they had given anything. A capital mistake in our ordinary methods is that the few give and not the many; while the large streams of benevolence flow, the small rills are not kept open. Those who, by a small gift each week, might contribute a fine sum in a year, practically give nothing. It is apparently not worth while for collectors to visit those who can give but a few cents, or if they should, shame or pride would keep many from putting down their names for a small sum."