The following is a true story. It took place within the past year.
It was about five minutes before the worship service began. An apparent cantankerous woman rushed up to the pastor and complained about a church event that was taking place, one she had just heard about in the lobby a few minutes earlier. I heard the entire exchange. My words are likely close to her actual words.
“Pastor,” she said with obvious indignation. “I knew nothing about this event taking place today until someone told me in the lobby a few minutes ago. I can’t believe I knew nothing about it.”
The pastor listened with an apparent calm demeanor. I got the feeling he had previous encounters with this angel of no mercy. “Well,” he responded adroitly, “it has been on the website for two months. We put it in the church bulletin for six weeks. We posted notices about it on the digital sign in the lobby for a month. We’ve also announced it in the worship services for the past four weeks. And we have sent four emails to all church members.”
Unfazed by his explanation, the woman responded, “Well, someone should have told me directly.”
I’ve heard more than one pastor express frustration about church communication. In my conversations on this topic, I often get asked, “How important are announcements in the worship services?” A corollary question is, “Aren’t the announcements a distraction from worship?”
Let’s look at this issue a bit more deeply before I support my thesis about the importance of announcements in worship services. Here are five thoughts:
1. The number of announcements should be limited. One of the reasons announcements are distractions is that there are too many of them. Members will typically remember no more than three or four announcements. Obviously, church leaders must develop a process to decide which announcements make the cut.
2. Avoid announcements that only involve a few people. In that same church I noted at the beginning of the article, the pastor told me he gets regular complaints from the chairperson of the flower committee because he won’t announce the monthly meeting of the five members. She is indignant that the meeting is broadcasted to the entire congregation. The pastor has not yielded . . . yet.
3. Most churches that handle announcements well make them at the beginning or at the end of the worship services. It is a legitimate concern that the flow of worship can be interrupted by announcements. This approach typically takes care of the problem of interruptions.
4. Many churches provide pre-recorded announcements. They thus avoid the mistakes, sometimes embarrassing, that come with live announcements and by those who decide to offer unrehearsed commentary and jokes.
5. The most important announcements should be made by the pastor. When the pastor speaks, most members listen. If the issue is important, it is most often important for pastors themselves to speak. While pastors do not necessarily have to limit themselves to matters of the highest import, they do need to speak if the issue is a high priority for the church.
Church leaders may provide several ways to communicate to the congregation. Many people will hear; some may not. But announcements that are vital to the vision and life of the church need to come from the pastor. Pastors have that rare opportunity to speak live to those attending in-person and those watching streaming services. It is an opportunity that leaders in other organizations typically do not have every week.
What does your church do about announcements in the worship services? Let me hear from you.
Posted on October 10, 2022
With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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We run a 3-5 minute announcement loop projected on the big screen in the Sanctuary starting 15 minutes before the service starts and ending when the “Welcome” begins. Our Pastor or the appropriate program/event leader will announce any major programs/events that impact the whole congregation as part of the Welcome when appropriate.
Our loop is created in powerpoint with 1 slide per announcement with clip art, images, etc appropriate to the event and each slide is about 10-15 seconds long depending on content. Idea is to convey just enough basic info and direct them where to find more info if needed. We also include a couple slides with Bible verses to help folks prepare for worship. The powerpoint is then exported to a video so it can be played on repeat.
Since we’ve started this process about 5 years ago, complaints about communication have dropped to a trickle.
I think the when of announcements depends on the membership and those present. In our church, the time before worship starts is left for prayerful preparation and decompressing from getting to church. Our congregation is older, and I won’t qualify that except by saying only one person wasn’t alive in the 1970s. If there were children I would consider announcements at the beginning of service, just because the settling in process is different with younger members.
Regardless, the announcements typically are “I’d like to call attention to the announcements in the Order of Worship – please read them…” then there are items in clarification or amplification. But I don’t read the announcements.
We pray over our upcoming events at our corporate weekly prayer meeting. You don’t miss any announcements if you’re regularly coming to the prayer meeting. I don’t mean for this to sound ‘holier than thou.’ We’ve just come to the conculusion that it sets the tone that prayer is the primary work of God’s people. We also pray that the enemy wouldn’t cause communication barriers that would stop people from hearing the Gospel, or from hearing about our upcoming events that would lead to a deeper walk with Christ.
I do try to keep the announcements focused and limited by number. We started opening our worship with a congregational song and then I will get up there to announce or remind the church of a few things coming up or that we should consider. Then prayer and onward we go with the next song.
I personally believe announcements are not good as conclusion of service. The main points of the service are given and usually followed by a request to come pray or give a staff or a person at the front your desire. By the time announcements for 15 minutes cut the spiritual moments to a low. One announcement about the upcoming revival. But not the donut sale. Print announcements in bulletin and make a few big ones at beginning.
We have general announcements at the beginning of church. These announcements are delivered by a member of the church that is trusted by the leaders to make the announcements in an appropriate manner. The same person delivers our opening prayer. At the conclusion of the service, we have one of the church elders deliver any announcements that pertain to the “shepherding” of the congregation, along with the closing prayer. This way we can include any personal prayer requests after the conclusion of the live stream if the member requests it to not be made online.
Thanks for the information, Rob.
Personal invitation is always the best way to invite someone. All of the points in the blog are valid. It’s true that if the pastor makes an announcement, it carries more weight than anyone else making the same announcement. The importance of being clear and concise is also important. We have had some announcements clearly written out and yet our spoken words distracted from the message. And I’ve fumbled on more than one occasion.
Thanks, Kevin. That is why some churches decided to have announcements pre-recorded.
The church secretary and I often joke about the fact that the bulletin has all the information that people need and yet they don’t read it. They complain that they did not know about an event or meeting that has been in the bulletin and on the screen before worship for many weeks. I guess it just goes to show that announcements do have a place in worship and I quickly do them at the beginning of the service.
You are not alone in that challenge, William. Thank you.
We do not have that problem in our church. We do not have screens in our worship space, but we have a responsive reading every week that is printed in the bulletin. In order to effectively participate in the service, everyone needs a bulletin. Of course, this can lead to issues if people do not get a bulletin.
We have them at the beginning.. It took a while to teach them to limit the number of announcements, as opposed to a laundry list of information. Of course, often they simply read them (mixed opinions on that). Occasionally I would highlight something I think needs specific attention. We use the projector as a means of reinforcement. I agree with your thesis as I consider announcements a part of the act of worship. For me, they are the church in ministry. We include a brief synopsis in the bulletin, but I despair how many bother to read them. We are in the process of arranging training for all leaders who read announcements. It is undoubtedly a worthy skill to acquire.
Yes, Keith. It is an ongoing challenge. Thanks.
I agree that announcements can be a hindrance to worship, but I do believe they are important. I know from my background in graphic design that a printed message in the bulletin or on the projector is only going to reach a small audience because most will read without retention. That message will likely need to be read three times before it sticks. Communication always improves when its presented multiple ways (printed, spoken, social media, text, etc). Since announcements can be a hindrance to worship, I do them right at the start of the service. I generally announce events in that week, and any big or new events. After the announcements, I ask everyone to rise to begin worship in song. I purposely point to a refocus from announcements to worship time. Another thing to consider in verbally communicating announcements is the fact that some of the congregation could be illiterate or even blind.
All valid points. Thanks, David.
Our Worship Leader normally does a fee announcements at the beginning of service. Often people are still in the lobby or the back of the auditorium talking so you know they will miss them.
Thanks, Keith. That’s why our church moved the announcements to the end of the service.
I used to have the announcements at the end but between the wiggly kids and the idea that the last thing people are hearing is announcements, it didn’t seem to be a great fit.
Excellent points and suggestions, Thom.
We sometimes forget that our worship is corporate. That means it is both vertical and horizontal. Announcements are not distractions from corporate worship, they’re part of our life together. Your suggestions are helpful in keeping them focused and from being a “distraction” from our engagement with God together. Another suggestion might include framing our announcements as part of what God is doing. Of course, when we try and force that idea it could be viewed as disingenuous. But we could and should think of our activities together as kingdom activity – what God is doing among us. Some reflection in that regard with our announcements might fit a bit more naturally into our corporate worship experience.
Good thoughts, Bob. Thank you.