* Speech delivered at the Annual meeting of the R.F.P.A. on Thursday evening, September 14, 1944 in Fuller Ave. Comments and criticisms concerning any of the material here presented is invited.
We have called these sad facts because they reveal the following. There is a difference of at least $525 in receipts and actual cost of the paper each year. This means that, on an average, 310 subscriptions are not paid for yearly. Secondly, they reveal that the Standard Bearer is still a babe; supported and fed by mother and attached to her apron strings at 20 years of age. Thirdly, that there is much precious material (books and pamphlets in Tower Room at Fuller Ave.) going to waste in cold storage. This material will soon be of no value at all for much of it is in the Holland language. Finally, they reveal that, apparently, there is no cooperation or communication between those responsible for the contents and those responsible for the publishing of the Standard Bearer.
It is understood that the purpose of the Standard Bearer is primarily to propagate the truth and not at all to make money. Though it may never make money, we believe that, at least, it can stand on its own feet without the support of special gifts and collections. We can even vision the possibility of the publication earning money and in substantial amounts; or if preferred, of reducing its subscription rates to a great extent.
These facts certainly demand action, and we would propose the following. Normally, with few exceptions, every copy of the Standard Bearer should be paid for by a subscriber. (At present the Standard Bearer is being sent free of charge to all our young people in the service and as such is doing a splendid service. It might be necessary on a special occasion of this nature to ask help, but normally, it should not be required and all subscriptions should, be paid for). Those who are unwilling to give 11 cents per copy for material of the Standard Bearer’s value certainly are not reading the paper; with such we are better off without. It has also been reported at this meeting that many of the arrearages of former years have been paid, and that, therefore, the faith, expressed in sending it to non-payers for a time after their subscriptions had run out, has been amply rewarded. But even then the facts still reveal that about 250 do not pay for the paper. At least, 150 of these can and should do so. Therefore, if a subscriber does not pay his fee, and can, he should, no longer receive the paper.
As to the books in the Tower Room, if nothing else, we should give them away. Our purpose is to propagate the truth and certainly they are not doing that where they are at present. Undoubtedly, the two radio programs sponsored by the Eastern group and The Western Societies, would welcome them as gifts to be offered over the air to all those writing in and acknowledging the programs.
It would seem beneficial if there were periodic meetings between the Editorial and Business staffs of the paper to discuss problems of mutual interest and consideration.
Finally, the Standard Bearer should be in every Protestant Reformed home, and paid for by the family receiving it, and in many thousands of homes outside our denomination. We see no reason why It could not have a paid subscription and circulation of 5,000 copies or more. This would bring the price way down, for printing costs do not increase proportionately with a rise in circulation.
The question remains—how shall we accomplish these ideals? Perhaps, they could be attained along the following lines. It is possible that a full time agent might be appointed for our 3 publications: The Standard Bearer, Beacon Lights, and the newcomer, Concordia. At the same time this individual could act as agent for the books now appearing from the pen of the Rev. H. Hoeksema. With these supplying his basic income it is conceivable that this agent could earn between $3,000-$4,000 per year, or more, according to his own initiative. You are, perhaps, smiling at that figure as dad those who heard the original remark. Let’s look at it a moment. The agent would be paid on a commission basis for all collections and new subscriptions received. He should be responsible for all collections of subscriptions and thus receive commission on all renewals. A man of initiative should soon be able to boost the circulation of the Standard Bearer to 5,000 and the Beacon Lights to 4,000 while Concordia, because of the nature of the paper, might never be raised above 1,000. If he were, on the basis of these figures, paid 50 cents per subscription collection from the Standard Bearer he would receive in one year $2,500 from that source, plus his commissions while securing the new subscribers. From the Beacon Lights he should receive 25 cents per subscription collection which would net another $1,000. The Beacon Lights couldpay this commission by raising its subscription price 25 cents per year; so also Concordia. From Concordia he would receive some $250; for a total of $3,750. From sale of books, he should certainly make commissions in a years’ time of $600. (Based on the sale of 1,000 books at an average price of $1.50 and current rate of commission of 40%). It is conceivable, if this agent were a man of ability, that he might at the same time serve the Churches in other capacities e.g. Stated Clerk and Treasurer of the Classis and Synod. This would net him about $450 more. This would make a gross total of $4,750, which, less travelling and expenses, would be a net income of some $3000 or more, according to the man’s ability and personal initiative. He could certainly make a comfortable living in a pleasant position in a worthy Kingdom cause,
If the appointment of a full time agent is not feasible or possible, local agents could be appointed to accomplish the same end in each congregation; on the same basis of remuneration. Subscriptions might be raised by a special drive of intense effort. Upon the basis of the present figures, if 2,000 copies of the Standard Bearer were printed and sent out and if 1,800 of these were paid for, the magazine would already be standing on its own feet and comfortably set. Thus the money now collected to support it could be diverted into other channels.
There are several other suggestions of value. More societies, such as this, might be organized in other localities, where our Church membership would warrant it, This, too, has been suggested before and for the details of working it out we refer you to Volume 17, number 11, page 256 of the Standard Bearer. This society should certainly be increased in size. (Both these could be accomplished by an agent, by the way). To arouse interest in the present organization, there is, even now, no reason why some members from our outlying Churches should not be included in the Board. At all times the organization and cause should be kept vividly before the minds of our people, to hold their interest. It was not, even asked, to announce this meeting on our Church bulletins, at least not in Holland. As a valuable source of income, notices of anniversaries, weddings, etc. should be encouraged.
It is evident that many more things could be suggested and said than we have done. We would like to make it very clear and emphasize that our only purpose has been to arouse some thoughts for discussion—nothing more. It would be presumptuous on our part to assume to have solved all the perennial problems of the Standard Bearer, which more and wiser men, have been dealing with for the past twenty years. We have only brought out some facts and laid our interpretation upon them to arouse interest in our Standard Bearer and present—“Gleanings from Twenty Years.”
In closing we present a poem which was found in one of the early issues of the Standard Bearer. The original is in Holland and our translation is rather free. Anyone interested can look up the original in Volume 2, number 15, page 401.
Standard bearer—read and studied, here and there and everywhere;
Of the readers, of Church papers, Standard Bearer has a share.
With its contents, most its readers, are completely satisfied,
For the 3 points the “Synod”, it has persistently denied.
In its contents is agreement, but the title that it bears—
“Standard Bearer”—seems presumptuous—that that name it wears.
With the contents, as we write this, will most everyone agree,
But that the name has been well chosen, many people cannot see.
That’s, however, not in order, for the name the knowledge gives,
Of its origin and purpose, and for the cause that it still lives.
Let us therefore, take a look, and a wee bit closer go,
That the meaning—“Standard Bearer”—all the readers thus may know.
Standard—precept—law, are and have been all well- known,
Through the ages they appear; and e’en in Old Testament are shown.
Therefore, Standards: binding rules—are, of course, authorities,
Raised above us, given power; rooting out atrocities.
When with this Standard in the land, rule is wielded over all,
There is order, right and union, there is peace, for which men call.
And when all, with one accord, from that Standard do not stray,
There is blessing,—truth remains; they will hold it thus for aye.
“Bearer”—holder of a standard,—those who wield the rule must be,
And when many work together, there is strength in unity.
But, however, OUR Standard, is of greater, higher, right
It is the Banner of our King; raised by Christ and in His might!
It is THE STANDARD—staff and banner—battle flag with this express:
“For the Great Exalted Captain—advancing in His Righteousness”.
Beneath this standard, we will fight for: Truth and Right, in Jesus’ name,
‘Till the last apostate brother, by God’s grace, is brought to shame.
That the foremost of the princes, shrank before God’s battle flag.
Does not cause us much of wonder, for here too, we see them lag.
For also when our Standard rose, many tried to kill the babe,
Stunt its growth, or smother mother; by God’s grace, it grew and stayed.
And what else could one expect, for when God is our intent,
When we seek the truth of Scripture, and in that our efforts spent,
Then to those who would defy us, while we write to glory God,
Comes, as foregone conclusion, shame—of all their purpose odd.
This does not mean, in any case, that we those persons hate,
But rather that our purpose is,—admonishing that sinful state—
To lead them back to God’s own truth, and by God’s grace, we prayed,
That they shall see: apart from Christ—God’s grace is NOT displayed.
Standard Bearer—Flag of Truth—Watchword—Motto, proudly waves,
Proclaim loudly, in all ages, that by Sovereign Grace, God saves.
Standard Bearer—by God’s power, seek and strive with all your might,
By the grace that God shall give you, to proclaim His Truth and Right.