Most of us have entered the twilight zone of worship announcements at some point. A person approaches you with awkward determination three minutes before the start of a worship service. A piece of paper unfolds multiple times.
If there was a way to collect all these scraps of paper, we pastors could create an epic coffee table book of some of the oddest things people want to share with a congregation.
In a previous church, I had to kill the death announcements. Historically, the church began worship services by announcing all member-related deaths. Nothing screams “Let’s worship!” like announcing a second cousin’s funeral who lives three states away.
Every moment in a corporate gathering is valuable and should bring glory to God. Church leaders should guard the congregation from the black hole of endless droning about insignificant events. Additionally, church leaders should protect less skilled communicators from the undeserved pressure of performing in an area where they are not gifted. Sometimes, it is edifying for an unskilled communicator to share a testimony with the entire congregation. Such moments can be powerful. Making an announcement is not that moment.
The horror stories make many church leaders want to eliminate the announcements from a worship service entirely. But I believe such a move is a mistake. Churches don’t necessarily need more announcements in worship services. They need important announcements more often. Here’s why.
Attendance frequency is declining. Until church leaders solve the problem of people attending less frequently, they must figure out ways to communicate with these infrequent attendees. Thirty years ago, pastors could get away with making an announcement once or twice over a couple of weeks. People attended more often. Today, it’s likely a good portion of people in your church attend much less than a generation ago. If it’s important and you want most people to hear it, announce it for several weeks.
Newer people are more easily confused. Not only are people attending less frequently, but some also don’t know the usual drill because they are new. Newer people—especially the unchurched—will likely be confused about what happens in a church. Expect this confusion because they do not have a frame of reference or history with the congregation. The more you communicate what’s essential, the more likely they will pick up on it.
Most people don’t retain information after being told once. I don’t. You probably don’t either. Repeating something is one of the best ways to highlight what you consider important. Repeating something is one of the best ways to highlight what you consider important.
Generations process information differently. Millennials are more likely to receive an announcement through social media. Older Boomers are more likely to read the worship guide. The Silent Generation loves for you to call them personally. But every generation is listening together in the worship service. A Sunday morning announcement is the best way to communicate to all generations simultaneously.
How might you make key announcements more often without detracting from worship? For example, we start our services each week with a video announcement of the top three items people need to know. Then, a service host (typically a church member) will greet everyone and remind people about what they just saw. At the end of the service, as the lead pastor, I will mention again the most pertinent items right before everyone leaves. With this format, there are three chances for people to catch the announcements in each service.
Announcements are not the most important part of the worship service, but leaders should announce what’s most important to the entire church. And the answer is not more announcements. Instead, the answer is announcing what’s important more often.
Posted on November 8, 2023
As President of Church Answers, Sam Rainer wears many hats. From podcast co-host to full-time Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Church, Sam’s heart for ministry and revitalization are evident in all he does.
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