Could announcements possibly be the worst, most ignored, most wasted part of our gathering time each week? Are there ways to do it better? Should we just give up and assume people just don’t want to be bothered by these pesky details? Yes. And no.
Here’s part of the issue. People come to worship to…worship. However, being a part of a community means there needs to be some form of coordination and communication. There are email lists, bulletin articles, bulletin boards in the hallways, slide shows before/after worship, video announcements, and there are announcements from the podium. While abandoning all public announcements may not be an option for your setting, below are 10 dos and don’t of having effective announcements.
1. DO announce the big things. Announcements should be something that relates to the vast majority of the hearers. Keep this to major events, goals, or things the community is focused on for medium to long term.
2. DON’T announce it from the pulpit if it only affects a small portion of people (i.e. small group meeting being canceled, deacon meeting, or ladies bible study schedule change). Those groups should be communicating through their own channels, not by using time during the large assembly.
3. DO keep to three or less announcement topics. The longer you talk the more people will tune you out. If it is really crazy and only every once in a while you can announce four things. But you have to say, "I know this is a lot this morning but please listen to this one additional important piece of information." That will help people keep their focus for just a bit longer.
4. DON’T “take care of business.” If it comes across as a business meeting pattern, people will begin to tune you out. They will start to get their contribution ready, look at their cell phone, check-in on social media, or something else. Changing the feel and possibly the name of the time may be helpful. Some use “Family News” as their announcement time.
5. DO be engaging. If it is positive, be energetic. If it is not worth getting excited about, is it really worth sharing? If it is negative, be sympathetic. If it is not a big deal, don’t make it a big deal by making an announcement.
6. DON’T be fake. Being excited does not mean you are always loud and animated. Being sympathetic does not always mean being quite. Just be genuine. Being fake is a big turn off.
7. DO have the right person make the announcement. This connects to #6. The right person is less likely to be fake. If possible have the person making the announcement be connected to the thing being announced. Whoever it is, make sure they have good communication skills. They don’t have to be perfect, but they do need to be able to communicate to the whole group.
8. DO ask why? There needs to be a compelling “Why” behind the decision to announce something. Why does this need to be said today, now, during this service? Do older people want to hear this? Do younger people want to hear it? Do married people, single people, divorced, widowed, men, women, etc. want to hear this? And by the way, not upsetting a member is not a compelling “Why.” There is no compelling reason to announce to the entire congregation that a member’s great Aunt Sally is having surgery on her big toe.
9. DO find the right fit in the service. If you just announced the death of a member, it is really difficult to get in the mood to sing “Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow.” All announcements do not have to be at the beginning or at the end. You may want to separate joyful announcements from sad announcements or event announcements from church family announcements. I have found a welcome time toward the beginning of a service a good time to welcome everyone and to highlight a few positive things. A more somber place in the service is a better place for sad announcements.
10. DO be purposeful. If you are in a routine and the routine is the only reason you are doing it…change. Every week is not the same. Treat each week and the information you are considering sharing as its own special time. Will what you are considering sharing be helpful to your audience?
This list is not all-inclusive and does not cover very situation and every congregation. You have to figure out what works in your situation. In many cases, information can be distributed in other ways such as email, social media, or text. But there is no one solution to every situation. Comment below with your suggestions or share a strange, awkward, or out of place announcement you remember hearing.
The following are potential announcement items for your next worship service time. Which will you announce?
1. The baptistery is getting a new hot water heater next week.
2. The dinner group that usually meets on Tuesday will not meet this week.
3. Next week service schedule will be different due to the holidays.
4. Michael’s Great Uncle Frank had a heart attack and is in ICU in the Netherlands.
5. Our campaign to serve 10,000 meals to the poor starts next Saturday.
6. A pair of earrings was found on the floor in the ladies room.
7. Mrs. Angie Parks passed away Friday evening. Funeral services are scheduled for Monday at 4:00 p.m.
8. The youth bus needs some engine maintenance, if you know of a good mechanic please see deacon Bob.