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THE EVERY MEMBER CANVASS.
Many churches have adopted this plan which has been frequently approved by the General Assembly. "We have not heard of one of them that has not found it beneficial in helping to solve its financial problems. Many of these churches will repeat this canvass before the end of the ecclesiastical year on March 31st. Every church using this plan should repeat the canvass each year, rath er than let the pledges go over from one year to another. This is important for new mem bers have been received into the church, who ought to be enlisted in systematic giving, for their own sake as well as for the sake of the church. There are some of the old members whom God has prospered, and who have real ized something of the pleasure and profit of giving regularly. They ought to be given the opportunity of increasing their gifts. Then there may be some who have met with mis fortune, and arc not able to give as much as they have been giving. They ought to be given the opportunity to revise their pledge. Any church that has not adopted this plan ought to do so at once. Here are some of the reasons why this should be done : It introduces business methods into the financial affairs of the church. This will be of great help to the church and to the con tributing member. For the very heart of this plan is that it requires regular, systematic giving, which is the Scriptural plan. It enlists all the members and gives them the opportunity, the privilege and the bless ing of sharing in the support of the Lord's work. "Where this plan is not adopted, al most invariably there is a comparatively small portion of the membership of the church which gives practically all that is raised by the church for its Avork. The result is that there are many members who have very little interest in the work of the church. There is scarcely anything that will awaken a man's interest in any cause as his putting some mon ey into it. It should always be remembered that giving is an act of worship, that brings its blessing just as really as the worship of prayer or song. The church should see that none of its members are deprived of this bless ing. The officers of some churches are re sponsible for the loss of this blessing to the members of their church. The result is that the church fails greatly in being what it ought to be, and in doing the work that it is intend ed to do. A church with about 300 members went to Presbytery with a call for the ser vices of a pastor, who was to give them one sermon a month, and for which they promised to pay $150 a year. The elder who presented tho call said that was all the church could raise. But it developed that about a dozen of the officers had been in the habit of pay ing the pastor's salary, and had never given the other members the opportunity of helping at all. The result was that the whole con tribution of the church for all causes did not amount to one dollar per member. Had the Every Member Canvass been made, the church could easily have paid the salary of a pastor for his whole time. Another advantage of this plan is that it will give the deacons and others who engage in it the opportunity to do a definite work for the Master, that will bring to them rich blessings individually. Most churches make this canvass in March. But it is not a hit too soon now to begin to make preparation for it. If you are not fa miliar with the plan write to Rev. R. L. Walk up, Jackson, Miss., and he will give you all the information you need. One of the first tilings to be done is for the elders and deacons in joint session to go over the financial afTairs of the church and see just how much money will probably be needed for its own expenses during the coming year. This estimate should include pastor's salary and all other congregational expenses. To this should be added the apportionments made up on the church by the Presbytery and any oth er benevolent funds which the church expects to raise. This may all be presented to the church as one sum to be raised, or it may be presented as two amounts, one for the sup port of the church, the other for outside benev olences. Next, see that there is an accurate roll of the members of the church with their ad dresses. (Select enough committees of two each to visit the whole congregation on some one afternoon selected for the purpose. Let the Session or the Deacons appoint these commit tees. It will not usually do to depend upon volunteers. Divide the congregation up into as many parts as there are committees, and give each committee its list long enough be fore t lie canvass is to be made to give it time to study it and become familiar with it. Fix the day upon which the canvass is to be made, probably some Sunday afternoon. For several Aveeks before that time have the pastor to preach on stewardship and wor shipping God with our substance. Have one or more of the officers to make talks, explain ing the canvass, what it means and what is desired. Have envelopes printed that will suit for the plan you adopt. See that each subscriber receives a package. "When the time comes for the canvass, the committees should just go out and make it in the time agreed upon, find ing out what each one will give, and then re port at the church at once to show what has been done. If any members are not seen at that time, look them up just as soon as pos sible. If this plan were adopted by all the churches a great blessing would come to them and the Lord's work would prosper as it never has in the past. THE DECADENCE OF THE PRAYER MEETING. As we are just entering upon another new year, with the feeling that we are surely in the closing years of the age, it may well be thought advisable to consider the universal decadence of the mid-week service of prayer. This affects not only the quantity but the quality of the service. Does any one know of a live, active, spiritual, well-attended and con tinuous mid-week prayer meeting? One who has given the subject considerable thought has affirmed with no uncertain em phasis that the species is extinct. Says he, "I heard of one church that had live, spiritual prayer meeting and had had it for years. I traveled half way across the State to be present and found thirty-six persons present on a pleasant evening, and everything in a dreary rut of commonplace." Some have compared the prayer meeting to the heart which is not expected to be a large body; but the comparison breaks down in this particular, that the heart is the most con tinuously active part of the body, which can not be said of the mid-week service. It is an indirect statement of the failure of this part of the church life of to-day. What are the causes of this universal fact of the Church f There are two very opposite reasons given: "We know that as nations advance in civi lization, which is the goal of national life, that certain customs slough off and become obso lete. The blood feud or the Vigilance Committee may have been the crude way of defending the life of a community, but the orderly pro cesses of justice supersede them in the growth of a nation. This is true of the progress of the kingdom of God. Perhaps it was necessary to the life of the early Church that it should observe both the Sabbath and the Lord's day * that it should express its personal loss and love in celebrating the Supper every Lord's day. Surely no one woulckclaim that it is a proof o? the decadence of religion that the seventh day ceased to be observed at all, and the Sup per less frequently. AVe see symptoms of this same progress presented to us in the full fruition of the kingdom of God as presented to us in Revelation. "VVe read, "There was no temple there." The church building ceases not only to have a holy place in the mind of peo ple, but any place at all. "There is no sun." Material light is not needed. And why? Be cause the people of God have progressed so far that they do not need material things to lead up to spiritual heights. "The Lord God is the Temple and the Light." Is it true that the prayer meeting is de cadent because the Church ip its spiritual de velopment has gotten beyond a need for it? This is what is diffidently affirmed by some. , On the other hand, many think the decadence of the prayer meeting is a symptom of lowered spiritual life. A falling away of the bulk of the Church to lower levels of devotion. And there is much \to bear one out in the view. Traveling along the valleys of our land we can see where the stream once had a larger and bolder flow of water by the ledges which once marked the edge of the water. Scientists affirm that the rainfall of the valleys draining into this river was much larger, and more con tinuous. There is a lowered rainfall, hence a lowered river bank. The condition of the prayer meeting, high and dry, is an indication of a larger spiritual flow through the Church and a greater spiritual fall upon the people of God. The remarkable mid-week prayer meetings of the Korean and African Church may be explained on both theories. That the Church is in an undeveloped stage and needs this weekly or daily meeting for united prayer or that in the fervor of their first love they arc putting the home church to shame. If it is true that the prayer meeting marks the high-water stage* of the full spiritual life, then we need to seriously consider the condi tion of the Church. If the trouble of the prayer meeting lies in the low spiritual state of the people, then we should beseige the throne of grace unceasingly for the renewal of thi* gracious period, when the meetings will hi^ crowded and the pulse of the Church beat high. No more alarming symptom could be found. When even ministers prefer the jocularity of the hotel parlor to the assembly of the ser vice of prayer; when children have to be dragged even from distasteful studies; when the presence of half the elders of some churches in attendance would startla the min ister; when, should lightning destroy the whole prayer meeting at one fell swoope, the Board of Deacons of many a church would meet in tact on the following Sunday; when the mo notony and drowsiness of many a meeting is mistaken for religious impulses, it is time the church was waking up' to ask what is the mat ter!