Oregon Adventist Stories: Behind the Scenes

This spring we started a series on the Oregon Conference Facebook page called Oregon Adventist Stories (OAS) to help connect our members on a more personal level. We asked the founder of Humans of Adventism, Kaleb Eisele, to help us with it. He’s been happy to help tell the stories that many times don’t come up in casual conversation. Eisele helps answer some of the questions we’ve heard in the last few weeks.

Why don't you publish names?

You may have noticed that Oregon Adventist Stories intentionally leave the speaker’s name out of the story. If you’re unfamiliar with this particular journalistic style, it can make things feel incomplete. Modeled after the popular “Humans of” movement (Humans of New York, Humans of Dublin, Humans of Adventism, etc.) OAS is structured to focus the reader’s attention on the story itself rather than a name. Each story is intended to walk the reader through the speaker’s perspective, giving them a chance to see the world through another person’s eyes. 

It seems like this is only part of the story. Why not tell the rest?

Oregon Adventist Stories, when done well, often leave the reader with many more questions. What happened next? What happened earlier? Where is this person now? That’s a good thing! These stories are intended to be a snapshot into someone’s life. Sometimes readers won’t see things the way the speaker does — that’s OK. They aren’t intended to prove theological points, political arguments or personal opinions, but rather to show some of the experiences that led to who that person is today. We hope the feeling of unanswered questions will inspire readers to want to learn more about the people in their own lives, even those who seem very different from them.

What’s the point of this?

There are several reasons this type of content is important for us as Adventists. First, these stories create new opportunities for discussion and community. Second, stories about people’s experiences are far more accessible to those who do not yet share our beliefs. No matter your spiritual beliefs, human beings share many experiences — loss of loved ones, the joys of succeeding at work or dealing with the aftermath of a personal disaster. By telling these experiences through the eyes of Oregon Adventists, we believe we can invite our neighbors to come alongside us in a way they may not have been interested in otherwise.

How do you find stories/subjects?

Finding stories is incredibly easy. Thousands of Adventists live, serve and work in the Oregon Conference. Rather than following interesting leads on new stories, OAS takes the approach that everyone has countless experiences to share. It’s as easy as reaching out and asking. Generally we sit down with someone over a meal or spend an hour or so on the phone with them and just listen to them talk about their lives. Our job, then, is to narrow down that conversation into one particular story that the person shared, put it together in a way that fits into a social media post and share it online.

Will you ever tell the stories of people other than pastors?

Yes! Although we launched OAS with a series on pastors, our stories have begun to include all areas of the Oregon Conference, from pastors and educators to our local church membership. The perspectives of the people making up each local community are just as important as those of our leadership.

I’m not on Facebook or Instagram. How can I read the stories?

OAS releases two new stories every week on Facebook and Instagram, but they can be accessed in other ways too. One Good Samaritan has even been printing physical copies to share with her co-workers! Keep an eye on the conference website and our weekly e-newsletter for a selection of these stories if you aren’t a frequent social media user.

Featured in: September/October 2019