By: Christa Meland
Are you always looking for new resources for your church? Do you wish you had more high-quality video elements to use in worship? Would you love to see the best children’s ministry tools and small group studies created by other congregations?
You will soon have access to all of these things thanks to a new online platform being developed by the Minnesota Conference. Called MNsource (pronounced “minnsource”), it will be a place for United Methodist church leaders throughout the state to both share and access excellent resources—such as videos of songs and other worship elements, youth curriculum, and small group studies. It will contain both crowdsourced and conference-produced videos to equip leaders and fuel ministry.
The platform will also be the go-to destination for on-demand learning videos—like SPRC training, conflict resolution and financial ministry how-tos, basics on officiating weddings and funerals, and supplemental material for events like the ConneXion retreat for laity.
“I am most excited about the platform facilitating collaboration and sharing of resources for learning and ministry across all of the Minnesota Annual Conference,” said Jody Thone, director of leadership development. “It brings the best of our work together and makes it available to all.”
The idea for the platform was developed and refined last year, when Thone and five other conference staff members participated in a 10-week “Innovation Accelerator” offered by Fresh Expressions, a Virginia-based organization that encourages churches to explore new methods for ministry in a changing culture.
The accelerator, which followed a human-centered design process, included empathy interviews with nearly two dozen clergy around the state. One of the key findings that conference participants uncovered is that pastors have a strong need for high-quality resources they can access and adapt to use in their own context—which is precisely what MNsource will provide.
“The more I talk about it with pastors, the more I keep hearing that this is just the thing they're looking for,” said Rev. Cullen Tanner, conference ministry and technology specialist, who participated in the accelerator and has helped design the new platform. “There is so much potential for churches to share what's working for them and to find just what they need just in time. The site will create another way that we will be connected to one another throughout the state.”
The platform will have somewhat of a Netflix look and functionality. Individuals will be able to create a login, download resources they want to use, upload their own best resources to share with others, and assign star ratings to the pieces of content they use so that others can see which ones people have found particularly helpful. All of the content uploaded to MNsource will be categorized and searchable to make it easy for users to find whatever type of resources they are looking for.
The hope is that MNsource will fill in gaps for churches of all sizes, inspire users with new ideas, highlight the best resources throughout the conference, and allow those outstanding resources to extend their reach and lifespan.
Church leaders are encouraged to start thinking about which pieces of their own content they could share on the platform, which will debut in the coming months.
“It's been thrilling to see this vision take shape,” said Tanner. “What started as a vague idea really took hold of our imaginations and now is just a short time away from really having an impact on the ministries of churches across the conference.”
Christa Meland is director of communications for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church