Storytelling opportunities at the Florida Conference
Then Jesus said to them, "So wherever you go in the world, tell everyone the Good News." – Matthew 16:15, God's Word translation
The Bible is full of stories, from parables to histories to examples of glory or ignominy.
Some are instructional:
"This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits." (Genesis 6:15, English Standard Version)
Others recount miracles that befall the faithful:
"At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, 'Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?'
"Daniel answered, 'May the king live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.' (Daniel 6: 19-22, New International Version)
Today, rapid advances in electronic communications have given disciples of Christ many more tools to carry on this tradition of sharing stories. With a touch on a computer keyboard or personal digital device, people can tell their stories with words, photos or videos, and those stories will go farther and faster than ever before.
In the past two years, the Florida Conference has expanded and enhanced the types of platforms available for United Methodists to communicate with one another and with those outside our denominational connection.
To organize our stories and give everyone a chance to share, the conference Connectional Relations office has set content guidelines for our various platforms, including the Florida Conference website, news webpage and social media sites.
Here's a brief description of our platforms and the types of messages we'd like to see posted or uploaded on each one. If, after reading this, you are still having trouble figuring out what goes where, please contact Susan Green, news page editor, or Gretchen Hastings, Connectional Relations director, and we will find a place for your news.
Florida Conference Connection: This is the conference news page. You can click on the word "News" at the top of the www.flumc.org home page to access it. The news page is designated for news stories, announcements and news releases of general interest across our conference and news stories of happenings in conference ministries and our districts and churches. Most news stories are written or edited by professional writers with a background in communications. We welcome ideas from our local churches for this space, but generally we prefer to share fruitful ministries and ideas from more than one church. Sometimes it might be two or more churches with a similar ministry but a different approach. Sometimes it might be about trends churches are seeing in their communities and how that shapes community outreach. Sometimes it might be about an interfaith effort or an outreach ministry that has ties to The United Methodist Church but is not directly affiliated with the conference.
On the right side of the news home page, you can also find links to blogs and commentaries under "Conversations" and brief items outlining new products, workshops, meetings, retreats or online classes under "Opportunities."
For questions or to submit a story and/or photo, you can use the "Submit a story" link at the top of the news page or email editor Susan Green at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please make sure you have a parent or guardian signature on a photo release form for all minors in photos to be posted on the Web. If you have questions or need a copy of a release form, email email@example.com.
Local Church Events: Located on the home page of www.flumc.org on the left side is a link to "Local Church Events." This site is like an online bulletin board for churches to post announcements of upcoming concerts, fundraisers, picnics, etc. When you click on the link, you will find a form to fill out that goes to your district office for tracking before your announcement is posted to the website.
Facebook/FloridaUMC: The place for stories about a single church's ministry, outreach, mission trip, building plans, etc., is the Florida Conference Facebook page. The purpose of this page is to allow churches to share inspiration, ideas and support. Stories can be as simple as a few lines with the "who, what, where, when and why," or a little longer – up to 600 words. The conference will help by editing for grammar and punctuation. A good colorful photo really helps to tell the story. Again, photos with minors that can be identified will need signed release forms from parents. To submit your story or for information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Twitter: The conference Twitter page provides a forum for our churches and members to share inspiration, information and learning in text-based message of up to 140 characters. The conference follows many news sources such as Relevant Magazine, Feeding America, OurChurchDotCom, UMCOM, several social media "how to" resources and sources for devotions, with the aim of giving our Twitter community food for thought and a place to exchange ideas with the speed that only a Tweet can deliver. Go to www.twitter.com/flumc to jump into the conversations.
WhatAreUMCDoing: This is the YouTube video platform for story-sharing among Florida Conference churches. Videos should be less than five minutes long and feature scenes from an outreach or in-church ministry, camp, Vacation Bible School, church social event, choir presentation, or similar program. Videos that include participants under age 18 must have signed media releases from parents. For information or to submit your video, visit www.youtube.com/whatareumcdoing or contact Don Youngs at email@example.com.
WhereISawGod: Has your smart phone camera captured the perfect sunrise or sunset, random act of kindness or other event that tells you God is alive and cares for us? Upload it to the Florida Conference Instagram site. Visit www.flumc2.org/pages/detail/2129 for instructions.