Nine Observations about Announcements in Worship Services

January 7, 2015

To have or not to have announcements in the worship services? That is the question many church leaders ask today. And indeed there are several tendencies or trends related to announcements, and they are often related to the size of the church.

I asked a number of church leaders of congregations of varying sizes about their practices in this area. They pretty much confirmed what I am seeing as well. Here are my nine observations:

  1. More church leaders do not think announcements should be a part of the worship services. Their churches are more likely to have announcements projected on a screen prior to the worship service, or not to have them at all in the worship center.
  2. Large churches (700 and up in average worship attendance) are highly unlikely to have announcements as a part of the worship service. As noted above, they may have the announcements projected on a screen prior to the worship service.
  3. Smaller churches (under 200 in average worship attendance) are very likely to include announcements as a traditional part of the worship service. Excluding them would likely cause some level of conflict in the church.
  4. Video or projected announcements have grown commensurate with the growth of projected lyrics during the worship music. Because the technology and equipment is available for the music, more churches also use it for announcements.
  5. With greater frequency, pastors limit making announcements unless they are a major or visional issue. This trend is growing in all churches except smaller congregations.
  6. More congregations limit announcements before or during the worship services to those issues that affect most or all of the congregants. For example, it is becoming less likely for announcements to be made about a committee meeting that involves only six people.
  7. Many pastors are still asked to make announcements right before worship services begin. Often they are handed a slip of paper or told adamantly that something must be announced. I will address this issue in a later blog post.
  8. Pastors also receive pressure from different groups and individuals to make certain their announcements are made. Most every church member has his or her own idea about priorities in the church. One pastor recently told me that a church member got mad at him because he did not announce that the member’s daughter was named salutatorian of her senior high school class.
  9. Most church leaders believe that the retention rate of announcements by members is low. If retention is indeed low, it would indicate that most times of announcements are done due to pressure or tradition or both.

What is your church’s approach to announcements in the worship services? How effective do you think they are? What is your reaction to these nine observations?

photo credit: Leo Reynolds via photopin cc

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110 Comments

  • Ours are done at the very start, after “Good morning” before the call to worship. Sometimes there are many, sometimes there are few, but IMO most people find them helpful. So it really feels like the ‘proper worship’ time hasn’t begun until afterwards.

    Deaths related to the church family are announced before the intercessory prayer, and again this feels like a good time to do these.

  • Kyle Timmons says on

    To be sure we don’t take away from the flow of worship, we do our announcements at the beginning with a “noisy offering” for missions. Then, we have a prelude preparing our hearts for worship. My experience is that 95% of the people don’t remember the announcements, 75% of people aren’t reading their newsletters or bulletins, and only 10-15% of the people are actually going to attend an event/meeting that we announce anyways.

  • Where I attend, it is after the peace and before the offering. Only the most important few are mentioned that affect everyone. Births/deaths are announced with funeral arrangements since plenty can happen between bulletin cut off time and Sunday.

    I have seen churches that read the paper bulletin. That makes no sense. People can read.

    • Thom Rainer says on

      True.

    • But many don’t. I’ve had people get angry because they weren’t told about some event even though it ran in the power point loop before and during church, was in the bulletin for three weeks, was on the church website in the upcoming events section, and made into a Facebook event that they clicked they were going to! We even tried producing a monthly calendar/newsletter every month so they could put it on their fridge. Most of the time, people would come in AFTER the power point has run, leave the bulletin and calendar in the pew when they leave, and never check the website or Facebook! So we went to a mass texting feature, but they wouldn’t sign up for whatever reason. I think some people just don’t want to be informed!

      • Agreed! We hold preschool Sunday School classes during the summer break only if members of the congregation volunteer to teach each week. The announcement asking for volunteers is always in the bulletin, but one year, when sign-ups were slow, the minister made an announcement from the pulpit that if no one signed up for the next week, there would not be a class. Following week, no volunteers, so no class. I stood at the info table to inform parents hoping to sign in their kids that week, and got lambasted by a mom who complained that I should have phoned people during the week to ask for help. She didn’t know about the lack of volunteers. But she had been standing on stage with the praise team the week before when the announcement was being made by the minister!

      • I believe Wendon attends my church 😉
        When someone questions why they didn’t know of an event or ?? [my THOUGHT] is – which of the 5 different ways we announced it each week for the past three weeks didn’t you see!
        But out loud I say – I’m sorry to hear you missed it, could you “help me” by looking back over the last couple weeks so I can make sure it was in the the Worship Guide. Also, could you double check to see if they put it on the Web calendar – I’d like to know if they forgot to put it on the calendar..

      • As a mere community pastor (responsible for the care of 400 in a congregation of 1300 thereabouts) I have been faced with the necessity of announcements in service and have resolved that it is the one part of the service where we do family business…connecting all to a common culture. Our announcements is packaged in a concise 6-7 mins video presentations. I believe church should not be mechanical but relational. The culture is already trending toward SMO’s (sunday morning only). Like a coffee shop people get their fix and keep moving out the door without fitting into the vision or mission. We greet newcomers, make a big to do about them, do announcements and enjoy God’s beautiful presence. I like a face on the announcements if just for a few seconds to further the relational feel. Thanks for all your thoughts.

  • Dr. Rainer: Spot on assessment. Appreciate your articles and insightful thoughts. Also I utilize your research as a genuine tool to stimulate thought and prompt conversations. Thanks!

    • Thom Rainer says on

      Thank you for the encouragement, Bryan. You made my day!

    • Scott Newman says on

      Not trying to divert this discussion into a rabbit trail, but my curiosity is getting the better of me. I must ask, “What is a judgment house?”

      • Here is an example for you…

        What is Judgement House?
        Judgement House is a walk-through drama that presents the truth of people’s choices versus the consequences of those decisions both in this life and the next.

        No other tool is more effective at presenting the gospel and giving individuals the opportunity to choose a personal and saving relationship with Jesus Christ. In addition, Judgement House continues to have an amazing impact on the church body or ministry that holds a presentation of their own.
        http://www.judgementhouse.org/whatisJH.html

      • “No other tool is more effective at presenting the gospel and giving individuals the opportunity to choose a personal and saving relationship with Jesus Christ.”

        I would disagree with this, enthusiastically. Even after seeing the documentary “Hell House”.

  • It is funny you mention this because our church just eliminated giving announcements. Our church runs between 250-300 and we felt like all the church growth was creating too many announcements. They didn’t want to give them in the beginning because it broke the flow of the worship. They didn’t want to give them after the invitation because when people walk the aisle you want to leave rejoicing not leave after hearing a church commercial. We decided since they are all posted on the screen and bulletin, that was plenty of advertisement. As Pastor, if I feel like we have a pertinent announcement I need to make verbally, I will find a way to sneak it in right before I preach. I do it in such a way that it is not a commercial but a prayer request. For example, when we have our annual Judgment House I will say something like this right before I preach, “Don’t forget to pray for our Judgment House coming up next month.” Doing it that way turns an announcement into a spiritual prayer request without disturbing the flow of worship. I fully agree with your article and it is very timely.

  • Smaller congregations have an ability to make announcements that enhance community. Part can be informational, but I encourage a separated time of praises and requests that allow for the family to share and support.

  • I think there is a demographic element to go along with your congregation size. If you have a higher population of long-time church members, there is more resistance to having the non-spoken announcements. In the last decade we’ve experimented with just having them on the screen and in the bulletin; having them on the screen, in the bulletin and announcing them early in the service; and having them in the bulletin and announcing them at the end of the service.

    Currently we do it after the invitation right before dismissal (focusing on main announcements and allowing for ancillary ones to be just in the bulletin). 4 reasons for that:
    1. If there are decisions made during the invitation, it allows for key information to be gathered and documented regarding the decision without holding up the service.
    2. When they are at the end, the retention rate appears to be higher.
    3. It is still very much desired by the congregation and we have seen that the retention rate is higher when verbally announced.
    4. It avoids disrupting the flow of the service by not interjecting it mid-service.

    It isn’t a perfect system, but it has proven to be more effective than some of our previous approaches with our specific congregation.

    (Side note: My in-laws’ church is a larger church and they do full pre-recorded video announcements early in their service and it seems to work just fine for their congregation)

    • Thom Rainer says on

      That’s great information. Thanks.

    • We do the same after service. Works well. The smaller the church the fewer the workers and the more attendance and help is needed. this drives announcements. The larger the church the more and even greater the activities (celeb concerts etc…, big name speakers and seminars). So projection works great because of the anticipation of the church-goers. Many go to the larger churches because of this. Smaller churches have to really work hard at casting vision and keeping the members focused upon Christ and His mission or interest will wane in serving. There is a fine line between being overworked and joyously serving – If vision is cast in a biblical fashion having announcements will work. If it is just drudgery and the same ole thing with no real purpose announcements are a drudge. Just my op.

  • I pastor a church under 100, we have struggled with how to deal with announcements for years. In general the 20 to 30 crowd either don’t like them or could go either way. the others seem to like them. We have everything in detail on the website and in the bulletin. I don’t think they should be just be on a video loop before and after service. But I find myself, working with the people doing announcements to limit what is said. I think it can be a positive if done correctly to help people see the heart and vision behind the things you are doing. The problem is it takes time to strike this balance and too often I run out of time. It is a matter of training the people to find the information, the problem lies if you are switching how you are sharing information.

  • Adam Swann says on

    We limit announcements to “1 Big Thing” during the welcome that affects the whole church and is of visionary nature.

  • Our church averages about 450 in worship services and over the last two years we have transitioned from a member reading announcements from the bulletin (in addition to onscreen announcements) to the pastor making one or at most two comments at the beginning of the service regarding church wide events or emphases. It seems that the majority of the congregation approves of the change. As a worship pastor, I wholeheartedly approve the change. It makes for a smoother transition into the time of worship and caps the amount of time dedicated to announcements.

  • Our staff’s philosophy is to try and over communicate and make sure no one can give the excuse that they didn’t know about an event. We run announcements on the screen in the sanctuary before services, in our foyer the entire morning, in our bulletin, website and facebook. Our pastor also makes key announcements at the end of each service with announcement slides showing up for each event he talks about.

  • Dr Rainer,
    Great insights and info, as usual. At Raleigh Road, we have shifted announcements to near the end of the service when we are making our offering announcement (i.e. “if you are a guest you are not asked or expected to give, but if you consider Raleigh Road your home church, we invite you to give and support what God is doing in our midst.”). Just prior to that offering intro, we do up to three announcements. These are events or opportunities that are church-wide in nature (as you mention in the post) and are supported by a PowerPoint slide for the event / opportunity. We also run a loop of several announcements projected before and after the service. We have found retention of announcements has increased as we have limited their number and made sure we included the “visual aid” to accompany them.
    And….yes….we do still occasionally have the note passed to myself or one of our other pastors just before the service. To help mitigate that, we have instituted the “10AM Tuesday rule.” That is when our staff meets and we’ve shared with all ministry leaders that we also decide which announcements will be made at that time. So, if they want an announcement made on Sunday….they need to let us know before 10AM Tuesday. It has helped reduce the note passing considerably. 😉
    At RRBC, we run 350 in worship attendance (provided in order to note we fall between the smaller setting of under 200 and the large church of over 700).
    Have a great week!

    • Thom Rainer says on

      Good stuff, Rob. Thanks.

    • Lydia Robertson says on

      I really like this suggestion, including announcements during the offering, it brings all the pieces together. I would also suggest that members be encouraged via the newsletter to not announce things like Salutatorian daughter during announcements but rather to include it in the Joys and Sorrows candle lighting part of the service. It takes on special meaning there and everyone can support the member in their joys and sorrows.

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