We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that has been granted to the churches of Macedonia. During a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity.
2 Corinthians 8:2
The Macedonia Project is a contemplative approach of spreading the spirit of generosity, awareness of God’s abundance, and stewardship leadership to local churches and individuals. The means of this process is through “good conversation” or in other words noticing and sharing the positive stories of stewardship in our lives. In this more relational approach to stewardship the common dead-end, frustrating, and often hostile approaches are by passed and new life giving ways of expressing gratitude and generosity become apparent.
The Macedonia Project is in conjunction with the Northwestern Minnesota Synod (ELCA) and the Minnesota Institute of Contemplation and Healing (MICAH). We have been providing services by selecting grant participants, formulating the curriculum and assembling resources for the Good Conversation groups, helping facilitate the group process, connecting the participants to churches and helping train them to run the church conversations, and providing administrative support for coordinating the project with participants, churches, synod, and conferences.
We practice what we preach and so as the Macedonia Team meets each month we take time to check in, participate in silence and a prayer practice, reflect on what has happened recently, and then, usually the last 30 minutes of our typical three-hour meeting we discuss future plans. It is a life giving process absent of charts and statistics and budgets. No worried or angry discussions about money arise. We find that out of this process we individually and collectively begin to notice what God is calling us to do.
How to discover life through stewardship
Through a grant from ELCA Stewardship, the Northwestern MN Synod has four trained “Good Stewardship Conversation Leaders” available to meet with church councils, stewardship committees or congregational gatherings to have good conversations about stewardship.
Together we will talk about money, but in a framework not based on numbers, anxiety, or fear, but rather a conversation based on discerning what is God doing and how it is meaningful to God’s people. We will look at what is already life-giving in congregations in terms of stewardship and where God might be calling congregations to even greater life.
A Framework for our conversations together on what gives life meaning:
- Asking the “God questions” that are meaningful and purposeful
- Listening and paying attention to what God is up to in our community
- Sharing stories of our encounter with God’s story
- Faith Practices: silent prayer, discernment, sacred reading
- Recognition of the power of God over the power of numbers
Leader of the church may want to know, “What do I have to give?”
It’s a process, not a program. Therefore, we would ask for a one year commitment over time noticing together what God is up to and through caring conversation and practicing our faith together.
Leader of the church may want to know, “What will we receive?”
- Leader from the Macedonia table to walk along side your congregation
- Discernment process for budget planning
- Workshop/breakout sessions learning your money story, stewardship leadership, etc.
How would we begin?
- Contact the synod office to receive the name of a Macedonia project leader to be in contact with
- Initial visit with Macedonia leader and pastor and council/stewardship group
- Create a covenant together of what our time together will look like
What will this cost?
One or two initial consultations and/or Leading Good Stewardship Conversation Experiences with congregational leaders (for example church council, stewardship leaders, pastor) are without costs. Additional costs for services are negotiable between the congregation and the Good Conversation Stewardship leaders based on the covenant that is agreed upon.
A rule of thumb for further services would be $50 per hour of Face to Face services in the congregation. It could also be possible to negotiate a long term covenant for consultation and leading good stewardship conversations at various times and with various groupings in the congregation.
The important first steps are to develop a relationship and sense of how a good stewardship conversation approach will benefit your congregation’s faith and life and sense of serving Christ’s mission in your community and beyond.