Frequently Asked Questions about The Ministry Lab

The Ministry Lab equips leaders for innovative ministry. Here, we demystify our project.

Who can use The Ministry Lab?
Every church and ministry of the Minnesota Annual Conference United Methodist Church, Minnesota Conference United Church of Christ, Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area, and Synod of Lakes and Prairies (PCUSA) is a member of The Ministry Lab. Anyone – clergy, staff, and members – from these churches is welcome to consult with us and access resources.

Not a member of one of these denominational bodies? Others can join!

What’s a ministry resource?
Traditionally, we think of ministry resources as books, DVDs, and curricula. While these remain important, websites, blogs, streaming video, podcasts and other resources add essential support for creative, vital ministries.

The Ministry Lab is newly excited to offer resources in conjunction with United Theological Seminary. Contemplative practices and groups and workshops shared in conjunction with UTS staff and students provide access to out-of-the-box, up-to-the-minute thinking and practice. And we’re delighted to provide leadership networking opportunities, connecting innovative people with a plethora of ideas to offer accountability, support and affirmation.

What is The Ministry Lab? Is it a lending library?
The Ministry Lab is located in United Theological Seminary in St Paul. It is located adjacent to/within United’s Spencer Library, with whom we share lending abilities. Anyone from our partner churches can visit and borrow materials or ask us to mail them.

However, we are not only a library: while we pride ourselves on keeping current with the latest in progressive literature and resources, we are also a networking hub and a collaborative workshop space. We are, in fact, located at what is affectionately referred to as “The Intersection” within UTS. Our physical location amplifies our intention: we like to bring human and other resources together!

You focus on education, right?
While we have a strong history with faith formation of young people and adult small groups, we resource every area of church life, including leadership and vitality, worship planning, stewardship, pastoral care, communications, and outreach to the neighborhood and world.

What do you mean by consultation?
Email, visit or call us with any question about ministry resources. There may be one resource that meets your need, or you may want to look at a few options. You can borrow curriculum, books and DVDs.  We often respond by email with links to resources for you to review.

Can you give some examples of questions people ask?
“We are rethinking our Sunday School program. Can you tell us about some alternatives?”
“Tell us about the best resources on racism/white privilege.”
“What resources are there to help us plan intergenerational worship/events?”
“Do you know of any resources I can give to a teen who is grieving?”

“What stewardship resources do you recommend?”
“How can we welcome children with learning differences like autism spectrum disorder or ADHD?”
“What’s new for Advent? Lent?”

Why would I contact you instead of finding my own resources online? I already know of more resources than I’ll ever have time to use!
Of course, you have favorite ministry resources, and places to find them. But the field of available church resources is overwhelming. Searching for excellent resources that fit your church is a time-consuming and daunting task: we think you have better things to do.

When you contact The Ministry Lab, you tap into a network of leaders rather than asking one “expert.” We share the recommendations, experience, and wisdom of our users, lifting up quality, appropriate resources from a huge array of ecumenical and denominational sources across the mainline and beyond. We shine when we connect you with great resources you may not have found without the support of the wider community of faith.

What other reasons might I have to contact you?

  • you need ideas, liturgies and/or resources for a new style/type of worship service;
  • you’d like to find the perfect speaker (or list of speakers) to help your group engage in some tough topics;
  • you have a specific query – or you may just want to see what’s new and spark ideas;
  • you know it’s time for self-care and you need take some time to reflect and nurture yourself;
  • to participate in a workshop;
  • to engage in a contemplative practice;
  • so your whole team can be inspired together for revisioning a ministry;
  • because your neighborhood is changing and you’d like support in preparing those within your building as they engage those beyond your doors;
  • to preview a DVD, curriculum or other resource before you buy it;
  • because you don’t know what to do next, but you know it needs to be creative, innovative, engaging and life-giving;
  • whatever you’re imagining (or need help imagining), we’re here to support you in that.

Is all this free?
Through judicatory support, consultation and use of our library is free for our member congregations. We ask that churches using labyrinths and some of our DVD studies share some of the cost.

Not a member of a judicatory/denomination/supporting body? Others may join!

You lend canvas labyrinths?
We do! Contact us to reserve.

Anything else?
Yes. Our weekly post, Six New Things, is a quick way to stay on top of notable resources: subscribe to receive it via email.

Like us on Facebook and receive updates on upcoming events, workshops and other gatherings.

Visit us online to find the best resources on a variety of popular topics.

Invite staff and lay leaders of your church to check us out and join in workshops and contemplative practice gatherings.

We hope you’ll tell us about resources that have worked in your context. We thrive on the shared expertise of our users, and are grateful for your participation.