10 ways The Ministry Lab can benefit you and your church
September 29, 2022
By: Christa Meland
Do you need help finding or creating curriculum to use within your church? Are you wondering which book study to use with your congregation? Are you stuck trying to figure out how to revamp Sunday School or which sermon series to preach?
The Ministry Lab can help with all of those things, and more. The Ministry Lab—an ecumenical organization that serves United Methodist, United Church of Christ, and Presbyterian churches in Minnesota—fosters experimentation, innovation, and creativity for churches as they seek to remain vibrant and relevant. All Minnesota United Methodist clergy, staff, and lay leaders have access to The Ministry Lab’s wide variety of ministry resources and free consultation through their apportioned dollars. The Ministry Lab used to be known as the Resource Center for Churches; in June 2019, it changed its name and moved into United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities in St. Paul through a dynamic new partnership with that organization.
Rev. Emily Meyer, the organization’s executive director and an ELCA pastor, recently worked with Peace UMC in Virginia on overhauling its Sunday School, Eden Prairie UMC on its adaptive Vacation Bible School, and a group of United Church of Christ (UCC) congregations on creating a Confirmation program based on the book “Hope and History: Why We Must Share the Story of the Movement.” She’s also working with a UCC congregation on a Christmas program it is preparing.
“My hope is that member congregations know that we are an unlimited, free resource for them,” said Meyer, who has pastored in urban, suburban, and rural settings. “We exist to support the ministries they envision and embark upon. I hope that our congregations discover the joy and life-giving nature of collaboration—and that The Ministry Lab not only connects people with hard-copy resources through our lending library, but we also connect people with other people, organizations, ideas, and contemplative and online resources. Sometimes we create resources alongside congregations and leaders; sometimes we highlight reimagined, life-giving, sustainable approaches to ministry that others bring to life.”
Here are 10 ways The Ministry Lab can benefit you and your congregation:
1. Consultation: This is what The Ministry Lab does best. Whether you’re looking for the best resources or need help creating a new program or experience, Meyer can help. She not only brings her own experience, but also the pooled wisdom from other member congregations and knowledge of new books and tools for ministry. Contact her to set up a consultation.
2. Hard copy library: Historically, people have associated The Ministry Lab with its physical library. Although all member congregations do have access to United’s Spencer Library and the ever-growing collection of The Ministry Lab, this is but one facet of the organization’s offerings.
3. Six new things: Every week, The Ministry Lab compiles a list of the most interesting new offerings from a diverse group of authors, podcasters, websites, and thought leaders. This is a great way to stay on top of ministry resources without spending all of your time researching them.
4. Great ideas: The Ministry Lab collects great ideas from member congregations—most of which can easily be adapted to other contexts. From connecting through text messaging to back-to-school outdoor prayer stations to a multi-sensory space in worship, there are a variety of ideas worth trying in your church.
6. Worship services: Periodically, The Ministry Lab creates full worship services for congregations to use; this gives clergy a break and also provides an opportunity for congregations to hear from other pastoral leaders. Churches always have the option to access to either a complete worship video or the worship script if worship leaders would like to deliver the liturgy themselves. The hope is to release the next complete service after Christmas.
7. High-tech space to host your meeting: If you live in or near the Twin Cities area and you're looking for a space to host your virtual or hybrid meeting, consider United Theological Seminary in St. Paul. Meyer would love to attend and consult on anything ministry-related.
8. Labyrinths: The Ministry Lab has three indoor canvas labyrinths available for rent: two that are 34 feet and one that’s 20 feet. They can be reserved for a few days, a couple weeks, or a month or two—and you can reserve yours up to one year in advance. The cost is $50 per week. A notebook of suggested activities accompanies each labyrinth.
9. ‘Belonging’ series: Stay tuned for an upcoming event series focused on connection, encouragement, and hope. An outstanding group of speakers, including two from LeaderWise, will cover the topics of self-care and gracious boundaries, paths to overcome loneliness, emotional awareness to support children and families, visual arts to facilitate intergenerational storytelling, regular rhythms of rest, how to develop digital media that invites personal storytelling and intentional listening, and song as an invitation to equity and inclusion. Attend one session, a few of them, or all of them.
“In times that are requiring congregations to reimagine their identity, their purpose and vision, their programming, and their community connections, The Ministry Lab can be a companion to let these transformational movements become more sustainable and life-giving,” said Meyer. “Christians might liken this to resurrection; The Ministry Lab exists to support, affirm, encourage, and resource congregations as they move, so that the movement leads to new life.”
Christa Meland is director of communications for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.