This week we have a quiz for you.

Answer yes or no to the following questions.

  1. Yes/No Does your congregation have enough money?
  2. Yes/No Do you have an active planned giving program?
  3. Yes/No Is there a predominant culture of generosity in your congregation?
  4. Yes/No Are your board and committee meetings conducted in a consistently positive manner?
  5. Yes/No Does your congregation have a common definition of stewardship?
  6. Yes/No Do you have a year-round calendar of stewardship-related activities?

If you answered no to any of these questions, there is a recent report that might be helpful.

Forward Through the Ages (FORTH), our three-year stewardship development demonstration project, has just ended. The project began in September 2007 and concluded in June 2010. Forty-five congregations submitted applications and seven were selected as demonstration sites. Each congregation formed a FORTH team and had access to three years of support from a professional congregational stewardship consultant. This support included on-site visits, telephone conference calls, resource sharing, and e-mail exchanges. The seven consultants worked with their assigned congregation, helping to apply FORTH concepts to the congregations’ size and existing organizational structure. Each site was asked to submit an annual progress report to summarize their activities and accomplishments. Upon completion of the project, annual progress reports and interviews with the congregations and the congregational stewardship consultants led to the creation of the FORTH Report.

A brief excerpt from the report follows.

The seven congregations reported many significant achievements:

  • Leaders discovered the importance of stewardship education. They used a variety of learning opportunities to highlight four themes: giving and receiving, gratitude, money management and budgeting. These opportunities promoted individual spiritual development.
  • Operational improvements were made: orientation workshops for visiting stewards, person-to-person annual budget drives, membership support activities, conflict management procedures, improved communication about congregational finances, and coordinated year-round calendars of stewardship-oriented events.
  • Many more volunteers, than prior to the demonstration project, were engaged in stewardship activities.
  • Stewardship became a year-round experience as opposed to a short-term preparation for an annual budget drive.
  • Congregational leaders became more knowledgeable about and were more engaged in stewardship.
  • Because stewardship development teams were created, longer-range stewardship planning occurred. New planned giving programs were created and moribund planned giving programs were revitalized.

Read the entire FORTH Report on

About the Author
Wayne Clark


  1. Mary MacKay

    This is interesting stuff and lots of good things happened — it would be MUCH MORE valuable if “control” Congregations had been identified at the outset and similarly followed for their trials and triumphs.


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