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 failure of most methods is due to the fact that they fail to reach the masses. When large revenues are to be secured in any government, it is done by imposts and duties so levied as to reach all classes. The Vast revenues necessary for the support of the various governments are drawn from the masses of the people, and perhaps the greater burden is usually borne by those in more moderate circumstances, and by the poorer classes. The experiment, attempted soon after the close of the war, of paying our national debt by the voluntary contributions of the rich, proved a signal failure, and so will all attempts prove which seek to provide for the work of the church by the contributions of the wealthy few. Take another illustration. What was the result of the income tax inaugurated during the war? The principle upon which it was based was to tax the larger incomes with higher rates of percentage than was levied upon the smaller incomes. It was a system of partial taxation. It was simply compelling a few to pay a special impost as a penalty for working harder, and exercising such industry and economy as enabled them to save more than their neighbors. Its influence was so injurious, and the returns so meagre, that it was soon abandoned. It did not reach the masses, and proved a false and ruinous principle in the securing of national revenue. The great secret of the financial power of the Roman Catholic Church consists in the fact that rich and poor are alike expected to contribute of their means. In this country their members are largely, if not almost altogether, of the poorer classes, and yet their resources are surely not very limited.
Next to spirituality, the rapid growth and spread of Methodism is due to the skill manifested by John Wesley in marshaling every man, woman and child for individual work and personal endeavor. As an organizer and efficient systematizer, John Wesley is without a superior in civil, military or ecclesiastical life, and because of his organic skill and methodical workings, his followers were called Method-ists. Their watchword was, "Justification, sanctification, and a penny a week." It has hitherto proven itself one of the most efficient, expansive Christian institutions of modern times, and in so far as they shall become opulent and forgetful of their primitive, methodical prin-ciples and their "penny-a-week" system, shall they slacken their progressive pace and lose their evangelistic efficiency.
If we turn from the practice which has secured success to consider our duty as Christians, we shall find that there is no escaping from individual, personal responsibility in the act of giving. Each and every Christian is as much expected to use this as any and every other means of grace. Each member of every Christian family is required to contribute. After children are old enough to pray and to understand somewhat what worship is, the parents can no longer worship God, for and in the place of their children. This can be done only by each particular member of the family for himself or herself, as individually responsible to God. The wife also is expected to contribute as well as the husband. No one can worship for her. The treasury of the temple was in the court of the women, and why exclude women from this means of grace now?
As homage and worship is due to God from all creatures of his hand and care, so those who are strangers to the covenants of promise are as much bound to the observance of giving, as an act of worship, as they are bound by the commands and love of God to the observance of each and every act of obe-dience and worship.
The Levites gave to the priests a tithe of all the tithes they received from the people. Christ gave the didrachma, or half shekel of the sanctuary, for himself and Peter. The Apostles and first preachers of the gospel, as they freely received, did freely give. Besides these examples, there is no reason why minis-ters can any more dispense with this means of grace than with any other. The people are entreated to use this means of grace, and the repeated appeals to secure money for the support of objects toward which the solicitor does not of his individual means contribute alike liberally, causes irritation and engenders hostility. The pastor should lead the flock into the green pastures of God's blessing, and beside the still waters of his grace.
All are to worship God with their substance, without distinction of sex, race, rank, class, calling, condition or ability; and whether the gift be much or little, God will determine "according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not "