It’s easy to recognize the success of United Methodist Church of the Resurrection. A congregation that started in a funeral home in 1990 is now the largest church in the denomination with more than 20,000 members worshipping on four campuses in the Kansas City area.
With such phenomenal growth in a denomination that has seen steady declines throughout the same time period, it’s understandable that other churches would reach out to Resurrection’s leaders for ideas, training and resources.
After years of providing those resources, Resurrection has developed a website – www.sharechurch.com – to make it even easier for clergy and lay leadership across the United Methodist connection and beyond to obtain resources to help their churches attain ministry goals.
“We’ve had this kind of vision since we started the church,” said the Rev. Adam Hamilton, lead pastor and founder of Church of the Resurrection. The well-known author and speaker said one goal for the church since its inception was for it to be a “living laboratory.”
Resources on ShareChurch are all aimed at helping renew local churches, expand ministries or help smooth the administration of congregations.
Hamilton said the effort is similar to one conducted for years by Interpreter Magazine, in which readers are asked to share strategies for ministry that work for them or their congregations.
"This is kind of that same idea," he said, "but now you can actually see the video or download the sermon series.”
Hundreds of resources already have been made available, including entire sermon series, curriculum for small groups and Sunday school classes, tips for preparing for mission trips, children’s ministry materials, congregational care how-to documents and even administrative forms.
“Our people here are so bought into this vision to be a resource to encourage and equip other congregations,” Hamilton said. “Over the years, we’ve had more than 14,000 churches across the U.S. that have used one or more of our resources, so we began thinking of how we can make these tools accessible.”
Hamilton credits Debi Nixon, a staff member who has moved to the role of managing executive director of ShareChurch, and others on the Resurrection leadership team with developing an idea that had been percolating for years.
Both Hamilton and Nixon acknowledge that most churches are not to the scale of Resurrection, but each of the resources are adaptable to the user’s needs.
“Most churches won’t have a need for one of our 250-page manuals, for example,” Nixon said. “But they might find some things that they can use and craft it into something that works for them.”
Nixon said the development and launch of ShareChurch has been a labor of love.
“This has been a real passion for us at this church to share the resource we have here in an efficient way to help lift up other churches,” she said.
Almost all resources are available for free, with some materials coming with a membership fee if churches want “real time” access to weekly sermons and graphics. Churches interested in these kinds of immediate resources can go to cor.org/sharechurch and click on “Partner Church” in the side navigation links or contact Jonathan Bell, who helps coordinate Resurrection’s partner church ministry, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Materials are grouped by categories, such as sermon series, curriculum, training, creative graphics and podcasts, as well as by areas of ministry, such as adult discipleship, children’s ministry, guest connections and mission.
The library of resources is expected to continually expand, both from Resurrection and from others. Nixon said in 2017, the plan is for ShareChurch to begin accepting submissions from other congregations.
“The idea is to find ways for churches to share what is working for them with other churches,” she said.
She said eventually the website will make it possible to provide more extensive training so people don’t have to be in the same location at the same time to benefit from opportunities to learn.
“The hope is that it’s not all Resurrection trainers,” she said, “but that we’re all learning from a number of people.”
Hamilton said the website fits into Resurrection’s three-part mission statement: