By Katie Winningham, Director of Communication
In a decade wrought with information overload, is there value in the age-old art of storytelling?
Last week the Broadmoor staff had the opportunity to visit two United Methodist churches in the Dallas area that are using innovative ways to organize and grow their ministries, respond to the needs of their community, and communicate their members' stories of transformation. We each met with staff from our respective ministries, and I sat down to chat with a few members of the Communication Team who had some great insight into the benefits of integrating storytelling into the culture of your church.
Let's face it: If you see an article, tweet, or Facebook post about an event or program that is information-based only (date, time, location), you might read it, or you might not. Chances are, if you are not interested in the event itself, you'll move right on without another thought. The "sharability," or likelihood that you will "share," re-tweet or forward the information is pretty low. The reason? There was nothing to draw you in, nothing personal to strike a chord, no chance that what you read would affect you in any deeper way.
Enter Storytelling. The team I met with at Highland Park UMC explained that in the past year they have shifted their emphasis to story-based communications, and the results have been immense! As they began encouraging their members to constantly ask themselves, "What story can I share about how I've been transformed by the particular ministries of my church?" the "sharability" of their church communications skyrocketed.
For example, if their church is hosting an upcoming class on parenting, they might publish an article written by a member paying homage to the struggles of parenting, but sharing how their involvement in the church's Family Ministry has strengthened their relationship with God and their children in practical ways. If someone sees this article on Facebook and has no connection to the church whatsoever, there is still a pretty big chance that they will read and possibly "share" words of hope and inspiration for parents who feel like they never quite have it together. There is also a chance that they will see the date, time, and location of the parenting class and be more likely to show interest, based on the fact that the article was engaging, personal, and relatable.
These are not just tactics for huge churches with thousands of members! The key to "sharability" is that once a story exists in the cyber-sphere and is shared a few times, social media sites begin showing it on more and more people's pages--the audience grows exponentially. So... in a decade wrought with information overload, there is value in the age-old art of storytelling, and I think Broadmoor is ready to jump on board.
A great opportunity to begin cultivating this culture of storytelling is through participation in an exciting Lenten series at Broadmoor UMC this year. Over the course of Lent beginning February 10, our church will enter into the 40 Days of Love, celebrating this unique liturgical season during the Year of Love with stories, reflections, and words of inspiration from congregation members like yourself.
Your submission can be a wide array of things, such as:
- A story about how you’ve experienced God’s love in someone else, such as a friend or family member
- A story about how you experience God’s love at Broadmoor UMC
- A story about how you show love in our community (through missions, service, volunteering—put a plug in for your favorite BUMC mission!)
- A favorite scripture about love, and a short explanation about why it’s meaningful to you
- A meaningful quote about love
- A prayer about love
The 40 Days of Love reflections will be emailed to the Our Daily Bread email list, and selections will be posted on our social media pages and website.
Submit your story online here, or email your submission to firstname.lastname@example.org. I also encourage you to include a photo that goes along with your story or submission, which should also be sent it to email@example.com.
Broadmoor UMC has a rich and poweful story lived out by each of its members. Let's start sharing it!