People rightly sense that announcements are both important and annoying. Many churches have different ways of sharing announcements: some at the beginning, some at the end. Some groups may spend as long as ten minutes on announcements, while others limit sharing to thirty seconds or less! Let’s consider the purpose of announcements. Because worship is often the most well-attended, most frequently-offered event where the vast majority of your church community gathers together during the week, worship seems like the obvious time to share “family business” and information about upcoming events. However, it’s important to recognize that too much information can cause your audience to disengage from the moment. Imagine that your music team or choir has offered some absolutely gorgeous and inviting prelude music, that the light-bearers have processed in and ignited the candles with utmost reverence, that a powerful, worshipful atmosphere has been created””and then that anticipation for “what’s next?” is interrupted by a hefty dose of news that will end up distracting our listeners from being present in worship.
So here are my “two-cents” (or maybe four) about announcements:
- Don’t put functional language in the midst of poetic ritual flow. My preference is to put announcements outside the “ritual” of worship because the language is different, less poetic, and can disrupt a good flow that you’ve got going. What I mean by outside the ritual is that you do them in the welcoming-greeting-gathering portion of the worship before what I call the “threshold moment” (the moment at which something awe-some happens that takes us into a different sense of time and space).
Example order for the beginning of worship: Music for Gathering (sets the tone and mood, people are fellowshipping) Welcome from a Pastor (aways assume there are visitors present) Liturgy of Life (my code word for “announcements”) Music for Centering on God (the “threshold moment” when we leave our normal rhythms of life behind… learn more about creating these in the Worship Design Studio)
- Don’t have a “let’s just get it over with” attitude. Rather, continually use language in the introduction of announcements that reiterates why we do announcements–that the life of the church and our worship takes place beyond this time and place of worship.
Example: “Our worship of God happens throughout the week in the ways we connect, fellowship, engage in mission, and live out our faith in the world. Highlights this week include….”
- Yes, announcements are important, BUT keep them brief and to the point. Oral announcements are NOT the best way of communicating details in this day and age! So I stick to three of the most important announcements (often the most imminent ones) and use ONLY three sentences: a) what it is; b) how participating is connected to our life of faith (motivation for doing it); and c) where we can get more information (the details). If you stick to requiring this format, then you can have various people who are connected to the activities giving the announcements without fear of the worship time getting hijacked by a skit from a well-meaning but over-zealous promoter!
Example: “Our Fall Craft Fair event is this coming Saturday. Because the proceeds go to our Missions Team trip, this is one way that you can support our commitment to making the world a better place through mission AND get some gift shopping done. You can find out more about volunteering on Saturday and other details at the Information Table at the entrance to the worship center.”
- Don’t rely on this moment in worship for all your communication. Of course, if you utilize digital technology, have announcements running as people come in. Utilize social networks and e-mail and website and any other communication medium for repeating information and generating interest. If you use a worship guide (what I call the bulletin), have all announcements on an insert that people can take home and stick on their refrigerator, not in the body of the worship guide. And nothing substitutes for face-to-face…create a strategic space near your worship area for volunteers to offer further information before and after worship.
It’s important that we make intentional efforts to invite people into the activities we have going on outside of worship. This week, consider having a check-in with your planning team about announcements in worship. If you’re currently spending more than a few minutes on announcements, consider the guidelines above to try paring down the information being shared. Many blessings on all the work of worship your community does each and every day (and announcing it!).