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Featured: Low-cost ‘Short Clips’ videos share stories

Director Celes Sheffield visits with two of the youngsters served by Ebenezer Community Outreach, a

WEST VIRGINIA CONFERENCE COMMUNICATIONS/ADAM CUNNINGHAM

Director Celes Sheffield visits with two of the youngsters served by Ebenezer Community Outreach, a "Short Clips" production subject.

Adam Cunningham uses his phone to record video t= for a Short Clips production.

WEST VIRGINIA CONFERENCE COMMUNICATIONS

Adam Cunningham uses his phone to record video t= for a Short Clips production.

Multicultural Logan Memorial United Methodist Church began as an African-American congregation. It is now multi-cultural and has tripled worship attendance in three years.

WEST VIRGINIA CONFERENCE COMMUNICATIONS/LAURA ALLEN

Multicultural Logan Memorial United Methodist Church began as an African-American congregation. It is now multi-cultural and has tripled worship attendance in three years.

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Low-cost ‘Short Clips’ videos share stories

 

Cindy Solomon
November - December 2014

Jesus loved telling stories to help spread the word of God's love for all people. So do Laura Harbert Allen, director of communications for the West Virginia Annual Conference, and Adam Cunningham, communications specialist.

As a result, the duo created a video series called "Short Clips" to model ways for congregations to get out and share positive stories of their ministries. While Allen and Cunningham produced the videos, "many of the story ideas came from colleagues on our connectional ministries staff," Cunningham said. They post each two- to three-minute video on YouTube for easy viewing.

One big plus of the series is that it uses inexpensive, readily accessible technology. "We chose to use Apple iTouch and iMovie," said Cunningham, "because we wanted to lead by example. You don't have to have an expensive setup to share encouraging stories of ministry. If someone in a church owns a smartphone or computer, the technical requirements should be covered. What's left [to find] is a good story and a willingness to share."

While the technology may not be complex, Allen pointed out that constructing a good story takes time. "Whether it's on an IOS device or a pen and paper," she said, "finding the balance between encouraging subjects to go a little deeper without pushing too hard is an art, especially in the middle of other work."

Allen and Cunningham are innovation seekers. "We're always looking for new and creative ways to reach people," Cunningham said. "We recently launched an Instagram account to connect with young adults in the conference. It will be interesting to produce the kind of fast-paced, brief, video content people expect on platforms like this and Vine."

For church or conference staff interested in exploring video storytelling, Cunningham offers this advice: "Technical issues like clean audio and steady video aside, I think the best advice we can share is to do your best. It's easy to hold yourself back trying to perfect a video piece, but ultimately people connect most with stories they can relate to, such as feeding children or building community with your neighbors."

Allen wants "to continue the 'Short Clips' series and to empower congregations to start creating them, too." She would like "to include stories of the call laity and clergy experience in their Christian journey. I also hope to engage with our young folks and let them help lead us in digital storytelling. They have much to teach all of us!"

Check out these 'Short Clips'

How might your church share its stories using a "Short Clips" format? Check out these video favorites from Allen and Cunningham:

Watch Laura Harbert Allan's Favorite "Short Clips" story about Logan Memorial United Methodist Church 

"I really enjoyed working with the Logan Memorial folks in Parkersburg, W. Va.," Laura Harbert Allen said. "This historically African-American congregation draws congregants from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. You can hear the passion and joy people feel about this place in the piece. I also like the surprise element. The church is in a downtown, low-residential area. It has no parking lot and is nestled under a railroad trestle. Yet, they have tripled worship attendance in three years."

The story of the Ebenezer Community Outreach is among Adam Cunningham's favorites. 

Adam Cunningham's favorite video is about Ebenezer Community Outreach in Huntington, W. Va. "It's a ministry that provides day care and after-school programs to children in the area. It's hard not to be inspired by the passion and commitment Linda ‘Nana' Smith and director Celes Sheffield have for the children."

Watch  more “Short Clips” here

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