We Need Missional Storytellers
By Ken Sloane
Ask any leader in a vital, growing congregation (large or small) what moves the people to support the mission and ministry of the church; and odds are stories will be at or near the top of the list. More and more, we are understanding that people are less moved to give out of a sense of duty and obligation but are increasingly moved by stories of impact. Stories filled with acts of compassion, offers of hope and of strengthening the community are the kind of stories that stir hearts and get people excited about giving their time, talent, and financial resources to support the mission.
One aspect of my work over the past thirteen years has been traveling around the U.S. and occasionally around the globe telling United Methodists stories of the impact they make through connectional giving – their giving to the local church that is used for apportionments (or mission shares) to support ministries within their annual conference as well as the smaller portion that has a global impact. Paying apportionments or mission shares is often a challenge for local church leaders, and it is rarely deemed a “happy subject” for discussion. However, when church leaders hear stories of the impact United Methodists make through their giving, the resistance to connectional giving seems to lessen.
When I talk with leaders at the end of a workshop, someone typically says, “You have these great stories. Where can I find more of these stories?”
Below are some websites that support the work of missional storytelling; I happily share them with you:
This website is dedicated to helping you tell stories of the impact connectional giving has in the lives of individuals here and around the globe. You will general resources on missional generosity and specific resources for all the churchwide Special Sundays with offerings and the apportioned funds of The United Methodist Church. Especially exciting are social media tools and artwork to share via your church’s website, Facebook page, Twitter, or Instagram account.
The denomination’s website has many stories of the global mission footprint of our church.
The official news agency of The United Methodist Church, UM News features stories that are current and have significant impact on the denomination, as well as stories that celebrate places where the church is advancing mission and ministry here and around the world. With communicators from Africa, Europe, and the Philippines now filing stories as well, you get a broad view of the impact churches are making in mission. To sign up for a weekly or daily digest of stories highlighting what’s happening across the church, click here.
The website for the church mission agency, Global Ministries, where you will find great stories of missionaries at work, projects bringing abundant health to people here and abroad, stories of UMCOR Disaster Response work both domestic and international, and much more.
The Website for our General Board of Church & Society in Washington, DC. Here you will find advocacy for the poor, powerless, and oppressed, as well as stories of work done in protection of the environment and other issues requiring our Christian witness.
A library of digital images gathered from a variety of United Methodist sources to use to help with your missional storytelling on the impact of our connectional ministry. Registration is required, and before you download (in whichever format you choose) you will be asked how the image will be used.
Your annual conference is also doing great missional work in its area, and many of the places where this outreach is happening are well known to the people in your congregation and community. Be sure to explore the pages your conference communications team updates to find stories of impact that will particularly resonate with your church family
Ken Sloane is the Director of Stewardship & Generosity for Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church.