How Ministry Shares support young people at the local level: The UNY Conference Media Center
November 15, 2016 / By Tasha Gottschalk-Fielding
While Conference Ministry Shares fund youth and young adult outreach on a national and even global level, the ministry provided by churches’ connectional giving also returns to the youth of the churches themselves. A key example of this level of ministry is the Conference’s Media Resource Center in Endicott. which lends resources to youth and young adult groups in churches all across the Conference.
Diane Miner, the Resource Center Director for the past six years, noted that a substantial portion of the Center’s curriculum is specifically targeted to youth and young adults. A keyword search in the Center’s online catalog, accessible from the conference web page, brings up 778 results for youth ministry and 1,611 results for young adult ministry. These resources span a wide range of media, including: books, DVDs, curricula, kits, CDs, and even a 24’x24’ portable canvas labyrinth that Diane said was used at a recent Conference youth event. Once a church has selected one of these resources to borrow, the Media Resource Center mails it to the church, arriving within a couple of days, at no charge.
How the Media Resource Center is funded
The Media Resource Center receives all of its funding from the Conference’s budget for Conference Connectional Ministries and this support allows the center to continue to invest in new resources to be used for youth and young adult ministry in the future. Recent acquisitions include group studies like Half-Truths by Adam Hamilton-which covers common Christian clichés in a way applicable to both youth and young adult groups-and Get Their Name-which focuses on ways churches can reach out to the un-churched, a substantial percentage of whom are young adults.
How the investment in media resources impacts young people
“The investment in resources is an ongoing ministry,” Diane explained. “I continually look for new and relevant resources to offer the local church. I am always planning at least a season ahead when previewing new materials.”
For Kevin Klippel, youth coordinator at Lansing UMC, the results of this careful selection are evident in the responses of his youth group to the study kits he has recently borrowed, including Surrender by Francis Chan and Dug Down Deep by Joshua Harris.
“Many of the well-done resources help our youth think more deeply about particular ideas about and within Christianity, in a much more eloquent way than I or a volunteer may be able to present them,” Kevin noted. “The efforts that the publishers put into producing these resources are clear and that lends them a lot of credibility with the youth.”
Kevin emphasized that these materials have also allowed him to provide his youth group with a more flexible and diverse curriculum than he could have achieved without the help of the Resource Center.
Brenda Brunzey, the Director of Religious Education at Vestal UMC, frequently turns to the Media Resource Center for books, curricula, and more. She said, “We have borrowed too many resources to list ,but I can affirm that our Senior High Sunday school class as well as young adult classes have borrowed dozens of resources throughout the Sunday school year every year“
How the Media Resource Center saves funds for churches
Truthfully, the Ministry Shares that support the Media Resource Center produce cost-savings for youth education.
According to Kevin, “Our budget is very carefully crafted and has little wiggle-room. So, if I suddenly decide to use a media resource without planning for it in the budget potentially a year ahead of time, being able to simply borrow it is a huge cost-saving advantage which frees up those funds for use in other aspects of ministry.”
Brenda expresses a similar sentiment. She said, “There are many benefits to borrowing the resources instead of buying them. The obvious reason is that it makes using new resources very cost effective because there is no cost associated with borrowing them. This allows us to use a variety of materials without the added expense. Also, in many cases, we will borrow the resource before it is needed to preview and decide if the content is actually what we are looking for.
For both Kevin and Brenda, the Media Resource Center is a key example of the way Ministry Shares allow their churches to save money on programming, while continuing to provide quality education and outreach to youth at the local level.