The Ticket Renewal

Transcription of Article published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by The Editor (Rev. Joseph Ritson)

THE Class Ticket in Methodism is a token of Church membership, and is renewed quarterly after the Church Roll has been purged at the Leaders’ Meeting. All members in good standing are entitled to receive a Ticket at the quarterly Renewal of Tickets. This service took place originally at the class meeting, at which one of the ministers would be present and himself conduct the meeting. As he heard the testimony of each member in turn and administered such counsel as seemed to be needed he handed the class ticket. The occasion was one, therefore, when the minister came into intimate contact with the members, and he thus came to know them better. Sometimes matters of importance would on this occasion be brought before the class, and an address might be the chief feature of the meeting. This address might deal with some aspect of the Christian life or with some question bearing on the welfare of the Society. At the close the names in the Class Book would be read over, and as each member answered to his name he handed in his contribution, which was known as Ticket Money to distinguish it from the weekly pence.

It will be seen that the Ticket Renewal served several important purposes, contributing to the family idea of the Church and the promotion of its spiritual and financial interests. Can this service be said to retain its place in our Church life? How many classes are thus visited by the minister? Where the classes are actually met by the minister how many of the members does he find present? The answers given to these queries will determine in any particular case whether the function survives and serves a definite spiritual purpose. It is to be feared that in a vast number of cases the Ticket Renewal no longer serves its original purpose. Is it possible so to modify it that it may in some real sense serve the spiritual ends for which it was originally designed? This was the question that presented itself to me on going to my last station. The Class Meeting had not ceased to exist. There were some large and prosperous classes. They met regularly, and were well attended, as attendance goes in these days. On going round the classes at my first Renewal of Tickets I found, however, only a fraction of the members present, so that the Leader had to get out a considerable proportion of the tickets afterwards. In a large class this meant either an immense amount of work, or many of the tickets were never given at all. The whole situation was unsatisfactory, but its counterpart, or worse, will be found in scores of stations in different parts of the country. How the problem was solved I am now to relate. It is not pretended that the plan adopted is capable of universal application, but some modification of it might be of service in many places.

First of all it was decided that all the classes should meet together for the Renewal of Tickets at the close of a Sunday evening service. A lithographed letter was sent to each member explaining the purpose of the meeting and urging attendance. The letter set out the original purpose of the Ticket Renewal, how that purpose was no longer fulfilled by it, and outlining the kind of service that was intended to take its place. The new service was to be a kind of family gathering of the members of the Church at which the minister and the officials would review the work of the past quarter, and outline that for the quarter coming. It was pointed out that in Methodism every member in good standing was expected to have some contribution, according to his means, recorded to his credit each quarter towards the carrying on of the work of God. The Class Ticket would be handed to each member in an envelope; the ticket was to be replaced by the quarterly Ticket money, and the envelopes would be collected at the close of the meeting. Special emphasis was laid on the fact that this arrangement was not in any way to be made oppressive to those whose circumstances would not allow them to give. This letter was placed in the hands of each member, personally addressed to him both on the envelope and in the letter itself. This communication completely served its purpose, and when the evening came there was a large attendance.

At the close of the usual preaching service the members of the various classes were desired to seat themselves together in different parts of the church for convenience in the distribution of the tickets. A hymn and short prayer opened the service, after which the minister briefly explained the circumstances which had led up to the gathering, and then called upon one or two officials to speak. The idea was that the various branches of the Church’s work should be regularly brought under review. Thus the class meetings, the week-night service, the Sunday School, the work of the Mission Band, the Sunday evening prayer meeting, etc., would be considered on successive occasions as might be deemed expedient. If any part of the work seemed to be languishing attention could be called to it and suggestions made for its improvement. The minister then reviewed generally the work of the Church during the previous quarter, and intimated anything special that was to be expected during the next three months. After this the tickets were handed to the Leaders for distribution. Here let me say that on each envelope was written or typed on the top left-hand corner the name of the member whose ticket it contained, and at the close of the meeting each Leader entered up in his Class Book the amounts contributed. We usually sang some familiar hymn while the tickets were being distributed. From beginning to end the service was of a profoundly spiritual character and everybody was delighted and blessed. For the next five years this service was held with unfailing regularity, and continues to this day.

The spiritual effect of the service was very gratifying. It often served to quicken the Church when things were getting cold and slack. The entire work of the Church was in this way kept before the minds of the members. Some readers may be curious as to the financial result of the arrangement. It was very remarkable. The Class money went up from £7 13s., at which figure it had stood for the two preceding quarters, to £13 3s. And this was no spasmodic advance. For twenty years the Class money had been some £7 or £8 a quarter. From the time the new method of Renewal came into operation it has averaged between £12 and £13.

But it was on the moral and spiritual side that the results were most pleasing. An effete arrangement was suddenly changed into an effective religious service, influencing the greater part of the Church instead of a mere fraction of the membership, and powerfully affecting every department of its organisation. If the Class meeting could be restored in the matter of attendance and efficiency to its old position, then the present form of Ticket Renewal would also be revitalised, and Ticket Renewal would also be revitalised, and serve its original purpose. If that cannot be done, then the form of renewal here described would in many places be found helpful both spiritually and financially. Much will depend on the spirit in which the change is attempted, and the energy and thoroughness with which the meeting is organised at the outset. There must be no hesitation about taking trouble. It is worth a great deal of trouble to secure efficiency in such a matter.

For some time it was deemed necessary to send a written intimation to every member, stating when the Ticket Renewal would take place and urging him to be present. This was done by placing the notes in the pews on Sunday morning, and requesting the help of all who were present in getting them to their destination. After a time this became unnecessary and the service was simply intimated in the usual way from the pulpit the Sunday previous.


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1908/856

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