Our own best resource

April 24, 2013 | Viewpoints
Arlyn Friesen Epp |

With its 225 congregations, Mennonite Church Canada has more “franchises” across the country than Future Shop and Best Buy combined, making us our own best resource.

On any given Sunday preachers faithfully deliver sermons, worship leaders direct music and prayer, and teachers guide children, youth and adults in study. In the course of a single year that amounts to 11,000 sermons and services, and more than 50,000 Sunday school classes. That doesn’t include weddings, funerals, small group gatherings, congregational meetings, social events, advocacy initiatives and other occasions when the family of faith gathers to act, study, discern or worship.

Often the creativity behind an event or service is a one-off occasion. Most parishioners don’t ask to hear the same sermon again, but great sermons should be shared with those who have never heard them before! Mennonite Church Canada’s Resource Centre collects and promotes such materials so that more congregations can benefit.

When we recently walked through the dramatic events of Holy Week, we asked our leaders to provide services for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter Sunday and more. It can be a challenge to approach the season and familiar story each year with freshness, renewed energy and new understandings.

While Google helps, our best resources are often found in the creativity of others within our faith family. Their original materials have been tested and tried within a discerning Mennonite community.

This year, many churches across Canada expressed their delight in finding a particular Good Friday service on the Resource Centre website—http://resources.mennonitechurch.ca—that was shared with the wider church by one of our congregations. Several pastors admitted that it was a relief to find good material in a timely fashion, and as a full package. I was pleased to thank the writer and inform her that her material had been downloaded 297 times in a very short time span.

The Open Source concept at the Resource Centre is working because of your efforts. Thank you for contributing original material and accessing them regularly. We have more than 2,000 Open Source electronic files in document, video and audio formats that cover a wide range of material from unique worship resources and creative dramas and stories, to intentional congregational processes, workshop and training outlines. Other contributions, including links to dozens of Anabaptist blogs, explore current issues like Idle No More or the Being a Faithful Church process.

Resource materials on worship, formation, leadership and more are downloaded more than 100,000 times each year from people within our church family and beyond. One pastor recently told me, “I appreciate how well linked and interconnected our Resource Centre is. I think of it as a hub.”

I encourage leadership who use these resources to acknowledge the source of their material. In doing so, we all can thank God that together that we are a blessed people, and sometimes our own best resource.

Arlyn Friesen Epp is director of the Mennonite Church Canada Resource Centre in Winnipeg.

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