Five Reasons Church Announcements Cause Problems

April 11, 2016

If your church has never experienced problems with church announcements, there is no need for you to read the rest of this post.

If your church is like the 95 percent of congregations that do struggle with announcements, please continue reading.

To be clear, I am speaking of verbal announcements made during a worship service. For this post, I am not concerned specifically about the digital announcements that appear on a church website, a screen before or after worship services, or a church newsletter. This issue is all about those times when someone stands up to speak to the entire congregation.

So what’s the big deal about church announcements? How could something so innocuous cause problems? Here are five reasons:

  1. Someone’s announcement is left out. On more than one occasion, announcements are left out either inadvertently or by design. A person feels slighted because his or her area of ministry or activity is particularly important to them.
  2. Someone’s announcement gets more emphasis than others. The reasons are the same as noted above. I actually heard one woman say she timed each individual announcement to prove the pastor showed favoritism. Sigh.
  3. The announcements take too long. More than one congregant has become frustrated due to the length of the announcements, especially if the issue in number four takes place.
  4. The announcements interrupt the flow of worship. Perhaps the worst time to have verbal announcements is after the worship service has begun. While singing, preaching, and the offertory definitely reflect acts of worship, it’s hard to see how the announcements fit in that category. If you have to make announcements, precede the worship service with them.
  5. Most people forget announcements. Try an experiment. Talk to someone you saw in the worship service one or two days later. See if he or she remembers the announcements. Probably not.

Some of these same issues play out in digital venues as well. People get angry or get their feelings hurt because of the placement or perceived priority of announcements on the church’s website or social media accounts.

The churches that seem to be handling the verbal announcements best are actually doing them on a very limited basis. The leaders make sure the announcements are important to the entire congregation, and that they reflect clearly a major issue for the church. Other announcements go to the newsletter or to the web site.

Unless there is an overriding reason, announcements that pertain to a small portion of the membership really should not be considered church announcements in any form. Usually there is no reason why the leader of that group cannot contact every person individually.

It is sad that announcements can be such sources of contention. It is a reflection of a self-centered “me attitude.”

But unfortunately the issue is very real in many churches.

Let me know what you think.

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91 Comments

  • After a business meeting, I had a member tell me this week that an outreach event I’ve been announcing for a couple months is the first time they heard it… It is true because they are usually coming into service after the announcements and during the first set of songs… It’s been in the bulliten on the calendar so they could have asked if they had read it. Time to rethink how I do announcements…

    • Robert M says on

      Most parishes I’ve ever worshipped at have had the announcements at the end, usually before the final hymn (although one church had them after that). Having them at the end of the service avoids disrupting the flow, and means latecomers don’t miss them. It also means that those preparing for worship by prayer (precious few in some churches, I know) don’t then find themselves temporarily barred from entering into worship by announcements.

  • An insert in the bulletin should be sufficient. Announcements prior to, or at the beginning of worship, are as appropriate as all the whispering and chattering. One doesn’t know the quiet conversation one’s pew neighbor may be having with God, or just listening, prior to offering his praise or lifting his petitions in worship. The time prior to worship has become more akin to sitting in the cineplex waiting for the movie to start. Announcements become more like a reminder to visit the refreshment center during intermission. Or am I being just too judgemental?

  • I have found that if announcements are attached to the truths of the sermon it can be very helpful. This takes a great deal of intentionality and effort to make it seem natural i.e. remind people about the importance and benefits of connecting to a small group while you are preaching about church unity, accountability, etc. Connect the ordinary and often times mundane with the grand purposes of the global church.

  • Ted Middleton says on

    I got tired of the annOuncements taking too long and breaking the flow of our worship service so I moved announcements to after the response time. Now they can take as long as they want with announcements, but it’s the only thing between them and lunch time. They are much shorter now and to the point. Since it’s the last thing people hear, they are doing better to remember upcoming events. It works for us.

  • Adiaphora says on

    On the Sunday after my husband had a stroke, it was very important to and for me to announce that first before I led the congregation in worship.
    Announcements are not “open mic” for us but are primarily prayers updates (what has God done since we gathered together) and prayer requests (what are we asking God to do now). Event notes are on the screen and in the bulletin (we tried “paperless” worship without the bulletins, but they didn’t like it). The bulletin deadline is Wednesday, and the congregation respects that deadline. Because they want the bulletin and bring it home with them, it is much more effective than anything I say.

  • MDiv candidates can take 90 credits of ministry courses and not here a single productive discussion about the inevitable 5 minutes of worship every service. Thanks Dr. Thom for raising the issue, and thanks to many good comments.

    I’ve given serious consideration to the issue. I’ve blogged on how to redeem announcements to serve the kingdom: http://arminianbaptist.blogspot.com/2016/03/baptist-worship-redeeming-welcome-and.html

  • Jim Kilson says on

    Having experienced pretty much all the issues enumerated above, our ministry team completely overhauled how we do announcements. We used to do them at the beginning of our service, right after the opening welcome to our visitors… what we discovered was that like so many other churches, was that it created a big disconnect in the service, depending on the week announcements could take anywhere between 3 and 15 minuets… way too long. We discovered that all announcements are not created equal… some do indeed need more face time than others. So we overhauled our bulletin and put the key announcements in there (and point everyone to it at the beginning of the service.) All others are available on our website in extended form (from a QR Code in the bulletin). It’s taken people a while to get used to the change, and we’re still in the middle of it, but the flow of the service is so much better…

  • Haha # 5,

    I do not disagree, but ask someone the same question about the sermon and you might find that they don’t need you either! LOL

  • I’ve found that the best announcements I make as a Pastor to inspire actual involvement take place in personal conversations. I can share with someone who cares about ______ ministry and is spiritually gifted to help serve in that particular way that they can do/go to/help with _______ event/program/etc.

  • Donald Sensing says on

    I changed the announcements to “Missions and Ministries” and forbade any announcement to be made that was not directly related to the missions or ministries of the church. No committee meetings announcements, for example. I also placed it directly before the offering to encourage people to consider that these are the things that their giving supports, not just keeping the lights on. And we never spend more than four minutes on it altogether. Ideally, yes, I’d love to get rid of such “admin” time altogether, but as that great theologian Yogi Berra said, “In theory, there’s no difference between theory and practice, but in practice, there is.”

  • I am a huge fan of emails, phone trees, etc. to communicate announcements. I visited a church recently that had 20 minutes of announcements by 4 different people at the beginning of the service. As a pastor and church staff member, I would check out during announcement time anyway. I personally see announcements as a distraction from worship. Many churches put energy into printing bulletins and projecting announcements on the screen. If people are too lazy to read, that is their fault. And if a little girl wants to sell Girl Scout cookies, she can sell them out of the trunk of her car in the church parking lot rather than let the church know about it. Announcement time is often a free-for-all in, especially in smaller churches. The methods I mentioned are, in my opinion, the best way to communicate.

  • Dave Patchin says on

    To help with the announcement blitz of a larger church, we created a scoring system where announcements got a number score, part from the size of the intended audience, and part from how important the purpose of the event was to the church (evangelism got max score, fellowship much less). Highest scored announcements/events got maximum exposure through all media channels (still only 1 stage announcement)…all others got less (lowest rated got one week in bulletin/program, one mention on each social media channel. As well, we helped ministry leaders cultivate other communication processes with those they hoped to impact.

    We found that ministries got creative in connecting with people OUTSIDE of Sunday mornings, producing more communication and fewer stage announcements. Parents of teens signed up for the Parents news channel, etc. People got the info they wanted in multiple channels. When people complained that they did not have people choosing their info, we coached them on how to communicate better, engage their audience, and listen to their needs so they planned better. Not perfect, but helpful.