GRAPEVINE, Texas (BP) – With my role at the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, I have the blessing of preaching in many different churches. That allows me to see how other churches are doing their services. Some are good, and some are not so good.
Today I would like to discuss something that many of us think about but don’t really plan out: Announcements.
You may be thinking, “Why announcements? Those are not an important part of the service.”
But consider this. Announcements are the opening handshake to your church service. The announcements are one of the first things a visitor will know about your church. They’re the first impression of the church and they set the direction of the service. Announcements are important.
Problem 1: There is no focus
We have all seen a service started this way. For one reason or another, the person did not prepare for the announcement time, and they just go for it. Whether it is a deacon who goes on a tangent, a youth minister who only promotes student events or a pastor who cannot gather his thoughts, the announcements are all over the place. When there is no focus in the announcements there is an issue, and a question must be asked: What are the people here for?
The simple answer is church. When planning and presenting your announcements, discard everything that is not church-related. The dad joke you’re dying to share, that story you have from the week, the two-minute children’s devotional or the rant you think everyone wants to hear. All but the church announcements should all be cut out (yes, I have listened to all of these in the announcement time of churches).
Focus on the church. Use the announcement time to set the tone for service and put the attention where it should be. Your announcements are a critical time that should focus the church’s ministries and opportunities. The announcement time should articulate how the church accomplishes the mission for Christ.
Problem 2: They are over-complicated
Have you ever seen a church give so many announcements that people could set their calendars for the next year? Or did the announcements take so long that the people just about fell asleep before the worship began? When this happens, the announcements are too complicated. A question should be asked: What do the people need to know?
The answer is imperative events. I have found it helpful to give no more than three verbal announcements concerning the church’s future events. In the bulletin, list no more than 30 days out for events. Keeping the number of events short will give each event more impact with your people and will also keep things fresh for your church.
Problem 3: There is confusion of call
I went to a church one time that announced all the fantastic events they were putting on. They had events for my kids, my wife and me. We saw how they were reaching their community and making disciples through all of them. This church was doing an outstanding job.
But there was one big problem – they never told us how to get plugged in or what to do next. This made the announcement time feel like a brag meeting instead of a call to get involved. When there is no call to action, a question should be asked: What do the people need to do?
The answer is the next step. It is easy. Just make sure to tell the people what they need to do to get involved. If it is an event, have them sign up. If it is a service project, ask them to contact the volunteer coordinator. If it is a camp, connect them to a sponsor. There is always the next step. Make that clear for your people and call them to take that step then and there.
Pastors and church leaders, let’s think through our announcements and make them the best they can be. Focused, simple and challenging.
Anthony Svajda is a pastoral ministries associate with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. This article appeared at his website, anthonysvajda.com.