‘Storytelling is How We Make Disciples’

Melissa Potter shares her thoughts as the conference’s new Associate Director of Communications

Early in October, the North Texas Conference welcomed Melissa Potter as its new Associate Director of Communications. She brings with her a wealth of knowledge about the industry and extensive work in the local church.

We recently spent some time talking with Melissa about her communications experience and her thoughts on the future of storytelling in the North Texas Conference.

Melissa PotterWelcome to the North Texas Conference! Please share with us your background in communications and why you wanted to get involved in this field.

After graduating from Oklahoma State University with a Bachelor of Science in business majoring in marketing and an MBA, I moved to the North Texas area with my one goal being to find a job that helps people. My first job out of college (and for close to 10 years) was with a healthcare company. From there, I freelanced for a couple of years to spend more time with my twin daughters. I worked with small and medium-sized companies fulfilling their marketing and communications needs. After a couple of years, I started as the Director of Marketing and Communications at First UMC Coppell, which is my home church. I really felt this was my ministry, getting out the message of Christ and The United Methodist Church. I really love the UMC and the teachings of John Wesley.

So much of what we do in communications is about telling a story. How do you define storytelling, and why do stories matter?

Storytelling is from the heart. It’s what we experience and how we share our experiences with others. I believe people think their story is boring because they did not have a “burning bush” moment. However, I think that God comes to us in the way that we will be most receptive. Everyone has a story to tell and sometimes just need a little help from the Holy Spirit. The key is to be quiet long enough to hear what the Spirit is telling you. These stories matter because that’s how others learn about us, our faith and God.

How would you encourage individuals from around the North Texas Conference to share their personal stories?

The first step is to not be afraid! If we are quiet and wait for the Holy Spirit, it will guide you. When I first started working at First UMC Coppell, I was terrified to pray in public. I didn’t know all the “preacher rules,” and I was afraid of being judged. After working there for a while, I realize that God doesn’t care if I pray “correctly.” He just wants to have a conversation with me. That’s the same with our stories … they don’t have to be perfect. God just wants us to share our heart with others. We are showing Him through who we are.    

Where do you see storytelling moving in the future, and why is it important for churches to tell their stories?

There is a lot of negativity out there. Sometimes, people question, “where is the church?” We are the church. Jesus told us in the Great Commission in Matthew 28, “Go and make disciples.” Telling our stories is how we do that: by sharing our love of God through our stories, deeds and actions to everyone we meet. The church is not the pastor in the pulpit every Sunday. It’s us. Clergy and laity together spreading the Word of God. Once people see the good things going on at the church down the road, they will want to learn more about Jesus and what those United Methodists are up to. Storytelling is how we make disciples.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

I am really excited about this opportunity to work at the North Texas Conference. I feel that communications are my ministry and how I can share with others the love of God. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for our future.

Published: Wednesday, October 31, 2018