Over the modern history of the church there have been revelations received by prophets that have had lasting impact on the church. Polygamy, the abolishment of polygamy, the welfare program, priesthood for all worthy men, etc. There is one revelation, or abolishment, that I am waiting to hear come across the pulpits of the church. It is the abolishment of the materials center in all churches across the world. It is time that the old ladies that spend 2 hours in the material center realize that we are competent enough to get our own chalk and eraser. It is time we embrace technology and realize such a grandiose room in the church shouldn’t house worthless 1970′s technology. It is time for a Material Center Revolution!
Let’s take a tour of the modern-day material center and by the end I am sure you will agree with me.
The Overhead Projector
This cutting edge technology rivals the felt board and was invented the same year President George Albert Smith became prophet. Never mind the fact that many LDS church building now how projectors available. The convenience factor is huge! All one has to do to use the overhead projector is bring a stack of transparency frames. Those are really easy to make. All you have to do is….um…well…ok, I don’t have clue how to make transparency frames, but if I did I would for sure put some knock-out scriptures to share during Sunday School while everyone loses sight from looking directly into the state of the art overhead projector. Thankfully, my church building has three on hand at all times. Which makes it easy to store since they don’t take up much more room than a ’85 Cadillac Fleetwood
Library of Ensigns and Church Magazines
The number one thing said by gospel doctrine teachers is, “Thank goodness the materials center had this 1971 Ensign.” No really, it’s true. I wonder when the church will digitize and post all Ensign content online…
…are you sure?
ahem…well it looks like they have posted such content online…for anyone to use. But what else are we going to fill those shelves with other than outdated material that nobody uses.
Cassettes and VHS
Cassette and VHS players are a dying breed. In fact the number of cassette players left in the world matches the number of LDS material centers in the world. No joke. It’s the only place you can lay your eyes on such 80′s technology. Luckily we have this technology because what else is a Teacher’s Quorum adviser going to do in preparation for his lesson other than fast forward and rewind until he finds the perfect quote.
And what about VHS tapes? It’s all the rage with the young folks. Long ago a man invented a contraption similar to a seat belt that secured large televisions to rolling carts. He had one customer — the LDS Church — and it made him a millionaire. Thankfully many of these secured TV carts also have a Digital Versatile Disc player sitting on top of the Video Home System player for those ahead of the times that like to use DVD’s. But every once in a while when the blazer boys get rowdy it’s essential to break out the VHS tapes and watch Labor of Love to admire the remarkable 80′s fashions (and to remind myself how annoying it is when people talk to you on planes…just sayin’).
Pictures, Maps, and the rest…
Obviously these pictures shouldn’t be thrown on the bond fire but it’s time to upgrade to new pictures. How about a keyboard that is as out of tune as the choir. Together they can make a beautiful synthesized noise.
3 Suggestions for Improving your Materials Center
1. Make it a Materials CLOSET
Have the Sunday School Presidency do a full inventory of every item in the material center and ask the tough question, “Do we really use this?” If the answer is no — GET RID OF IT! Once you get rid of the 70′s magazines and the items that take up too much real estate you will find it is easy to fit everything in a nice small closet or small classroom. The old library will offer a mid-size classroom for additional Sunday School classes or church meetings when every other room seems to be filled. (This is very applicable to those in older church buildings)
2. Stop Policing and Get to Class
The Church librarian does seem to be the calling that is worth aspiring towards. It is nice for some to chillax in the library for the last two hours of church but it’s not needed. By putting the essential items in a “Library Closet” let people come and go as they please and take what they need. If people are stealing chalk or DVD’s you have other issues to address in church. Plus, the black market for chalk seems to be struggling these days. For the high-end items like TV’s, they can be kept in a clerk’s office or a separate locked closet that the bishopric and Sunday School President can access if needed.
3. Upgrade Technology
Many units are finding room in their budgets to invest in a projector (not the overhead sort) and smaller flat screen televisions (no cart or seat belt required) for each building. This does wonders to create engagement during a class and they are easy to store. Purchase some old MP3 players and/or USB drives and load media files from LDS.org for quick access for instructors to use. It’s a lot easier than finding the quote in a magazine.
One final question… Where does a hymnal go to die? It never dies. It just gets duct taped.
What are your thoughts about the church materials center? Should we keep them how they are or make them how they should be?
For official direction on how to use the Meetinghouse Library see the Meetinghouse Libraries page on LDS.org