Church-Based Resource Centers

In case you haven't noticed, a revolution is taking place in the Seventh-day Adventist Church with how ministry is initiated, funded and resourced! It is a revolution that is rapidly changing the way our church structure exists and operates at every level. The bottom line of the revolution is that the involvement and ministry of individual members is needed more than ever before. 

A number of resource centers and product development organizations are emerging to provide fresh, timely resources for personal growth and outreach. 

Along with this, every church can benefit from having a Ministry Resource Center for its members and leaders to use. How many times have nominating committees asked people to fill positions without giving the proper tools—let alone job descriptions. Then later these same volunteers are often criticized for not being effective. We can do better. 

We need to shift our thinking when it comes to how we view ministry at the local church level. We need to move away from the institutional model where people wait to hear their call to ministry from a nominating committee. While nominating committees play an important role, Scripture teaches that every believer is called to minister in one way or another. The church's role should be to encourage and facilitate members to fulfill their calling. 

Encourage new methods and ideas

Another way to look at it would be to think of the church as a kitchen, where cooks and chiefs are encouraged to experiment and create all kinds of delectable foods. This is the kind of place where people with appetites want to be. In local churches, let's do what we can to create an environment where people are continually tasting and experimenting with new opportunities to become involved in ministry.

While it doesn't have to cost hundreds of dollars to start, having a Resource Center will require a commitment on the part of a church to provide up-to-date tools that people will want to use. The question that every church needs to process is, how committed are we to building and supporting our members in their ministry dreams? Once this question is addressed, the value of having a local Resource Center will be obvious. 

What are the benefits of having a local church resource center?

Having a resource center will do several things:

1. It equips members and leaders with ideas for program and activity planning. 

2. It shows members their church is seriously interested in helping them develop their gifts. 

3. It stimulates people to dream about new ministry possibilities.

4. It promotes an eclectic view of ministry that invites every member to participate in some way.

5. It provides members with new material for personal growth and sharing. 

What kinds of materials should go into a resource center?

When developing your center, make sure you include materials that are up-to-date. People won't be interested if your shelves are full of old discarded books! Things that attract people include: videos, fresh Bible study guides, new sharing literature, books and tapes for leadership growth, family nurture materials, planning guides, children and youth program guides, and timely magazine subscriptions.

In order for a Resource Center to be perceived as a vital place for ministry materials, it needs to be promoted and talked about by the leadership core of your church. This should be done by pastors, elders, Sabbath school leaders and others.

Things to keep in mind when setting up your Resource Center:

1. Find someone in your church who loves to manage, sort and catalog things. The right person will make this their ministry and be excited about it! 

2. Find a place where resource materials can be kept under lock and key. This can be a Personal Ministries room or corner that has large locking cupboards or cabinets.

3. All materials should be inventoried and catalogued. Affix library check-out cards to each item so you can keep track of them. Make sure people put their phone number and address on the check-out cards.

4. Establish your policies and let people know what they are (i.e. how many items can be checked out at once, and for how long). 

5. Encourage your resource person to become acquainted with the materials so they can help people quickly find what they need. 

6. Post your hours in the church bulletin and encourage members to use the Center. A suggested time to try is 15 minutes before and after Sabbath School. You'll need to experiment with this to find what's best for your situation. 

Criteria for Selecting Materials  Resource Survey

As you move ahead and begin thinking about specific resources, how will you decide what is appropriate? Dorothy Minsink, past director of the Azure Hills Seventh-day Adventist Church Resource Center, developed some helpful guidelines that address this question. As you consider each product ask yourself these questions:

1. Does it bring glory to God or man?

2. Does it pass the Philippians 4:8 test? "Whatsoever things are true, honest, just pure, lovely, of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there by any praise, think on these things. " 

3. Is there is a depiction of violence or evil. If so, where does it fall on the values scale? Is the value of the lesson(s) taught worth the time spent in the problems depicted? 

4. Would reading this book (or watching this video) be a wise use of a Christian's time? Will the reader/viewer be a better Christian after this experience. Does the material help you dwell on God? 

5. Does the material present a Biblical viewpoint that is in harmony with Seventh-day Adventist theology? If not, are there reasons why it might be of value for study or contrast?

6. How does this material measure up in light of this statement? "The more quiet and simple the life of the child—the more free from artificial excitement and the more in harmony with nature—the more favorable it is to physical and mental vigor and to spiritual strength" Education, p. 107. Does this material consist largely of artificial excitement? 

If the materials pass the above test, then the following criteria may be considered:

a. Does the resource center already have adequate materials of this type?

b. Has someone in the congregation requested it? 

c. Are funds available for it? 

Getting Started

You may not have access to a large budget or be able to start your Resource Center in a big way. But you can do some research to find out what items would be useful to your members and start securing some of these. If you aren't sure where to start, here are some steps to consider: 

1. Meet with your pastor and share the concept. 
2. Present the idea to your church board.
3. Request funding or permission to invite members to contribute. 4. Share the concept with your church. 
5. Survey members about their needs and areas of interests. 
6. Share the survey results with your church board and members.
7. Start purchasing and cataloguing materials.
8. Open your doors for ministry.

Hopefully, this will be helpful as you consider how to inspire and encourage fellow church members who are interested in sharing their resources for the Master's cause. Blessings to you as you dare to dream and work for God's Kingdom and glory! 

Rich DuBose is Director of Church Support Services for the Pacific Union Conference and a producer of Christian web content.

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