Response: March 2015 Issue

Yes, you can share your mission story.

Here’s how.

Yes, you can share your mission story.
United Methodist Women leaders Sally Vonner and Selby Ewing at the climate justice march in New York, September 21, 2014

Jesus was a master storyteller. His parables prove a point, convey a message and motivate people to action. They extend an invitation to follow him and his teachings, to be involved in his ministry and mission. When you tell others why you are a United Methodist Women member, you are extending an invitation for them to likewise commit to the Purpose and join the organization in its special assignment to mission with women, children, youth and disenfranchised communities.

Here are a few best practices for sharing your story in a way that might move others to join in Christ's mission.

The 5 Ws and H:

Asking yourself the 5 Ws and H will help you formulate your story.

  • Who? Determining who your audience is will greatly affect how you tell your story. For example, if your audience is an individual your story may be shorter or longer, more detailed or less, than if you were sharing your story in front of a room of 1,000 people. Who were the people in your life who led you to be involved in United Methodist Women? What did they do or say that made you want to join? Make sure to include them in your narrative.
  • What? What does United Methodist Women—local, district, conference and national levels—do to make the world a better place for women, children, youth and the most vulnerable among us? Always have a brief overall answer and at least one example on the ready. For example, "Mission Giving from United Methodist Women around the country supports more than 98 community centers, residences, shelters, schools and programs in the United States and programs and personnel serving women, children and youth in more than 100 countries. Our local United Methodist Women supports (insert a local ministry your group supports) in our county." Sharing a funny or moving story from the day you volunteered at a mission institution or delivered items to a local shelter or assembled baby layettes with your circle can help a listener get a better feel for the joy of mission.Whenever I get stuck in my writing, I think of my dad who always asks me, "What are you really trying to say?" This can be applied whether you're writing or verbally telling a story. What do you want a listener to walk away with after hearing your story?
  • Why? Asking yourself why you are a United Methodist Women member will help you focus your story into a succinct and impactful narrative that can encourage other women to join you in mission.
  • When? Think about when you were called to be in mission through United Methodist Women. Were you young and in college? Were you a young mother? Did you become involved once you retired? What was this time in your life like? When did you know you needed to put your faith into action?
  • Where? Think back to where you were when you realized you wanted to be a part of United Methodist Women? Where were you living? Where did you first hear about the organization? Next, consider where you are telling your story. Are you in a large conference room with an audience of 1,000 people? Are you at a bus stop on your way to the church when someone asks you where you are going and why? Also consider where United Methodist Women is in mission. The answers to these questions will help you hone in on details for your story.
  • How? How has putting your faith, hope and love into action through United Methodist Women impacted your life and relationships with people and God? How has answering God's call to mission with women, children, youth and the most vulnerable impacted your spiritual growth?

If you process better through writing, try setting aside time to answer the 5 W's and H in a journal. If you process better through discussion, identify and find a storytelling partner who can listen as you formulate your story. Ask them for feedback to help you develop your story. Your group may even want to try this as an exercise during a meeting.

Also, while it is important to paint a broader picture of the overall mission of United Methodist Women, try to be specific with details. This will help paint the picture for the listener, making it more vivid. Be careful though to only include details that are relevant to the point of your story, otherwise your story runs the risk of dying at the hand of lengthiness.

Next, remember to practice, practice, practice! Just like anything else, storytelling takes practice. Ask a friend if you can practice telling your story to her or him. Again, make sure to ask for feedback so you can improve your storytelling skills. If no one is available, practice telling it to an empty room or to a family pet. The more you actually tell your story, the more succinct it will become and more of an impact you will make on listeners.

Last, don't be afraid to get personal. Sharing your story can make you feel vulnerable because it opens you up to criticism about something that is deeply personal to you—your faith. It is normal to be hesitant to share personal details, but that is precisely what can make a listener feel more invested in the story. The more invested and engaged in a story someone is, the more likely they will take related action. People want to know about you. Is there something particularly funny in your story? Humor is a great way to connect with a listener.

Stories connect us as human beings. We all have a story. Hearing someone's lived experience is an honor because they are inviting you into a part of their life. They are sharing a piece of themselves with you. When you tell your story, you are doing the same thing. You are ultimately telling people why you are a United Methodist Women member because you want others to join in as well. You are relaying to them something you are passionately involved in that means a lot to you. You are extending an invitation to them to be involved in a community of women, putting their faith, hope and love into action around the world! It is a gift to have a story to tell, to hear someone's story and to invite others into the larger story of United Methodist Women. And remember, if you don't tell your story, someone else will!


Amanda Mountain is a United Methodist deaconess and former strategic partnerships manager and communications trainer for missionaries for the General Board of Global Ministries.

Posted or updated: 3/2/2015 11:00:00 PM

February 2015 cover of response: Celebrating 150 years in mission.

 

Share Your Story

How is United Methodist Women a part of your Christian journey? When was United Methodist Women a community of hope or encouragement for you? How have you put love into action as a United Methodist Women member seeking God’s peace and justice? response wants to hear your story of faith, hope and love in action. Whether it’s about the time in your life when you joined United Methodist Women or a reflection on an experience that moved you to action, share your story. Submit your essay (approximately 500 words) to Tara Barnes and see it published in a future issue.

Share Historical Photos too!

Do you have vintage pictures of our foremothers in action? If so share them!
Send photos (the highest resolution you have) as Link opens in a new window. e-mail attachments to our Flickr account. Please add as much detail as possible in the e-mail body, including any or all of these facts:
  • Date (estimates are fine; please indicate)
  • Names if known
  • Photographer's name if known
  • Event or Activity
  • Results or after effects related to the people or action 

 

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