I feel blessed to have the opportunity to lead the communications ministry of the Great Plains Conference and to assist across our United Methodist connection.
I worked as the editor of a small daily newspaper with Gannett in St. George, Utah, for more than 14 years and as a journalist for a total of 20 in Minnesota and Missouri as well as that time in Utah. In late 2014, I discerned that my call into ministry went further than assisting with matters at the local church level. My wife is a United Methodist pastor, so prior to coming to the Great Plains from the Rocky Mountain Conference, I assisted as our church’s audio-visual technician as we launched contemporary and blended worship settings, served two stints as a church council chair in a fast-growing congregation that included a building project and had the privilege of facilitating three different Disciple I classes. Over the years, we felt like God put my wife and me in places and in roles where we could be the most helpful for the Kingdom, and when the opportunity arose for my wife to help rebuild a congregation and for me to put my skills to work for the church, we both felt like God was redirecting us again. Everything that we felt had to happen for us both to say “yes” simply fell into place.
In my former profession, an editor friend of mine used to refer to journalism as “the Lord’s work,” and I believe that it is. But now I have an opportunity to reach beyond promoting mercy and justice issues to help equip pastors and congregations for the critical task of making disciples of Jesus Christ. As communications director for the Great Plains Conference, I still get to tell great stories – from the way a church in central Nebraska made a bold statement to purchase a larger church building to provide for a community outreach center to a church in the Kansas City suburbs that decided to turn post-election angst into a positive experience by hosting a service day as part of its Sunday morning worship time. I have the opportunity to write a regular blog in which I can address technology issues or can provide some spiritual perspectives on matters, often current events as I did with my weekly columns. And I get to put the administrative tools I’ve honed over the years to work for the church, such as setting marketing and advertising strategies for diverse local markets and sorting through logistics to ensure our communications team can tell as many stories from local churches as possible.
My favorite duty, and what I feel is one of my biggest strengths, is to be on the road helping groups of churches or leading Lay Servant Ministry workshops on a wide variety of communications-related skills. Whether the topic is relating well to local media or marketing the local church or using multimedia tools effectively in worship, the face-to-face interactions at workshops remind me that that we all can make a positive impact for our Savior in our broken world. I get to use my media background and lessons learned assisting in my wife’s ministry for my “war stories” – and to help people avoid pitfalls that have tripped me up from time to time (unfortunately, I have plenty from which to choose!).
I have great hope for the future of the United Methodist Church because I have faith in the message and in the ultimate messenger. What clearer statement of love can a person make than to willingly suffer and die on a cross? We aren’t asked to suffer nearly as much as He did. We are simply instructed to share the example Christ set and to tell the story of the grace we all experience through is suffering, death and resurrection. We may be divided as a denomination on the issue of homosexuality, but I believe God will provide direction, just as I believe God has provided in my life, to all willing to listen. Regardless of your stance on this divisive topic, I pray for discernment of God’s will and that we all can live in harmony as brothers and sisters in Christ regardless of the outcome.
Together, I think we can be a renewed movement for justice, for mercy, for compassion, for love and, yes, for salvation of the masses. And as communications professionals, we get to tell all those stories. What an opportunity!
Todd Seifert is communications director of the Great Plains Conference, which includes 1,008 congregations in Kansas and Nebraska.
Photo: Great Plains Conference Communications Director Todd Seifert conducts a multimedia worship tools workshop at Trinity Heights United Methodist Church in Newton, Kansas.