If you’ve attended worship at a variety of churches, you know that church announcements are a wild card. You might get a newsletter when you enter into the sanctuary. There may be screens with looping announcements prior to the service. The pastor(s), staff, lay people, or a combination of those people might give verbal announcements at the beginning, middle, or end of the service. In many of our churches, there is a lot of information we’d like both members and visitors to know about us and what’s happening in our ministries.
Improving your church announcements is an important task to consider, as it’s a component of your overall communications strategy. Making them more effective can have a huge impact on engaging volunteers, inviting visitors, and helping everyone become more informed. Steve Fogg notes that church attendees spend less than one percent of their week in church, and the other 99 percent of time, we’re bombarded with other advertising, invitations, and so much more. Church announcements are just a small fraction of the information we digest on a weekly basis.
A couple experiences come to mind when I think about the effectiveness of church announcements. One time, I was worshipping at a church, and there was a representative from Compassion International who made an announcement about child sponsorships, a very important ministry for God’s people to support. However, the gentleman giving the announcement proceeded to spend the next 10-15 minutes talking about his history with Compassion and his experience sponsoring a child, but due to the length and lack of focus, the congregation’s body language made it obvious that they were disengaged with the announcement.
I was at a different church where some of the youth made an announcement about a fundraiser they were holding to support their mission trip. The youth had a script that kept the message focused, and relevant details front and center. A direct invitation from the youth to the congregation was much more personal and gave a different (dare I say, better) impression than an adult making the same announcement. With these experiences in mind, here are some practical ways to improve your announcements.
Figure out how your announcements fit in with your overall communications plan. Are you covering items that are also in your print and social media? Are you directing people to your website or newsletter for more details, or are you using in-service announcements to communicate the entire message? Make sure information about events, activities, meetings, volunteer opportunities, etc. is available on all your channels, and arranged in a logical, easy-to-find way.
This can be a hot-button issue. Obviously, announcements in the middle of the service can be terribly awkward and detract from worshipping God and receiving his Word and Sacraments. If your church has found a way to do announcements in the middle in a non-distracting way, make sure to comment below!
Have a conversation with church staff, leaders, and members whose opinions are helpful about this topic. Even be open to asking visitors about their experience hearing your announcements. Be willing to receive feedback and make adjustments based on the feedback you receive from people.
Make sure your announcements are focused, and if they’re about taking action, make sure that action is clear. If they’re about sharing information, make sure that information is clear.
Because you have a limited time during worship to make announcements, choose the announcements that are most time-sensitive and impactful for the congregation to hear. Make sure people know clearly where they can find more information or if they want to follow-up, whether that’s on your website, on social media, or in a physical space in the building.
Again, keep your announcements brief. Use dynamic speakers. Record video announcements (this helps ensure time is not an issue. Tell stories about people’s lives being changed. Use pictures to illustrate. Avoid insider language. Consider having the pastor refer to relevant announcements in his sermon.
Our churches exist to proclaim the Gospel--Christ crucified and risen. While it’s nice to invite your members to the hotdish social, the church is more than a place for social gatherings; it’s where the people of God are fed with Word and Sacrament and sent into the world to proclaim Christ in word and deed. Make sure the things you announce are focused on this singular mission.
What have you found to be effective in improving your church’s announcements?
For other helpful ideas and topics, visit the CTS Blog Technology & Your Ministry.