“And then the motion was seconded….”
Reading secondhand reports from a business session of annual conference may be the ideal sleep aid. The endless stream of motions, petitions and amendments are far from the hymns and sermons associated with the experience of church.
Because of the (sometimes) dry and political nature, leaders may avoid talking with members about Annual Conference. Yet, it’s important in the life of the church and needs to be reported. These tips will help you do that in a way that conveys importance without prompting yawns.
Avoid sharing everything at once
The firehose summary approach may seem efficient, but it misses opportunities that annual conference offers. Create a communication plan that spreads information over time — before, during and after the event — through multiple channels: from the pulpit, through engaging Facebook posts, the bulletin (or e-newsletter) and memorable emails. As you develop your plan, consider what information is best announced by your pastor or lay member during a worship service and what can be shared on the church website or in the e-newsletter.
To aid your congregation in following the annual conference session itself, use the avenues above to share the official social profiles for the meeting along with the hashtag for that year's event. Encourage people to follow these on Twitter and/or Facebook to see the conversations happening around the event.
- Remember the main things
It may be tempting to leave out “boring” news that seems too political or business oriented. Leaving out such news may imply that the annual meeting lacks purpose.
Look over the agenda and note the main items to be covered. For example, this year, annual conferences around the world will:
- elect delegates to the 2020 General Conference
- approve conference budgets for 2020
- commission and ordain new clergy
Each matter is worthy of prayer during worship services in the weeks leading up to your annual conference. Doing that invites members to see the annual meeting anew through a purpose-filled, spiritual lens.
Note compelling narratives during annual conference
Business communicated without narrative can come across as dry and uninspiring. Make notes about the stories of the conference — moments of passionate debate and stories of effective ministry celebrated with awards or in committee reports. As you communicate about the votes and budgets, tell the stories of new church starts, powerful justice ministries and passionate youth delegates.
Share what you learned through the teaching elements
Teaching during annual conference ranges from morning Bible studies to full days of seminars or other training. Sharing what you learned during these sessions can demonstrate how the meeting directly benefits your congregation.
If there was a Bible study, consider doing a lesson or sermon series on the same passage making certain to cite annual conference as the source of your new insights. Use information gained in seminars or workshops as the basis of training for your members.
Underline the connectional nature of The United Methodist Church
In this divided season in the life of the United Methodist denomination, it’s important to use moments like annual conference to highlight all of the good work that happens in our connectional church.
Making statements like “we can do more together than we can do on our own” or “look at the impact we can have when we come together” can go a long way to helping people see beyond any division to the power of the connection.
Putting these steps into action — whether you choose to make a video, send an email or make several announcements on Sunday — will serve your church family well as communicating about your Annual Conference is essential.
Conversations about annual conference present a powerful opportunity to share what God is doing all around you and through your connection with the United Methodist churches in your region.