Preach Your Announcements
Church announcements tend to be the pariah of the weekend service. They can be too long, too boring, too fuzzy, or there’s just too many.
In our context, we often use a plumb line that says “Preach the announcements.” The big idea is this: if pastors spend 15 hours a week preparing for a 45 minute sermon, then the rest of us should should put a corresponding amount of time into three minutes’ worth of announcements.
Here are a few more thoughts on how to preach your announcements:
1. Know your audience (part one).
Just like pastors should know who they are speaking to – they should be acquainted with the hurts, fears, joys, anxieties, and struggles of their congregation – so too should we know the audience who will receive those announcements. In our context, that means things only get stage time that speak to a majority of the crowd. No niche announcements about the 7 a.m. senior ladies quilting circle or an update on the winner of last Saturday’s men’s golf scramble. Doing that loses a majority of the crowd.
2. Know your audience (part two).
“But wait!” protests ye. “What if you’re announcing something that involves a lot of people (i.e., a women’s conference) but not all people (i.e. the men in the room)?” Certainly #1 is not a universal rule, but even in the case of an event that involves 50% of the room, figure out a way to involve the other half. Talk about opportunities for men to serve, or to pray, or to get together with some other guys and let their kids play that weekend.
3. Don’t assume prior knowledge.
Just as in a sermon where you would take the time to explain a theological term or give some quick background on a biblical narrative, assume that there are people in the room that don’t know what a midweek prayer gathering is, or what a small group is, or what your cutesy acronym stands for. Make outsiders insiders and bring them in so they can see how they may play a part.
4. Know what to cut.
In our day of streaming services and social media and more communication inputs than we can count, the bombardment of messages is overwhelming. Don’t announce it all. One or two pushes per weekend is plenty. And don’t go crazy on the announcement. You don’t have to cover every last detail, the history of the event, and the thought process behind potato salad vs. cole slaw as a side dish. A minute (maybe 90 seconds) is enough.
5. Give a clear, immediate action step.
This is the “now what?” question. How does someone sign up? What can I do right now? Is there a site I can visit or a QR code I can scan or a lobby station I can drop by or a person I can talk to? Once they’ve left the room, the announcement has left their mind.
6. Keep it interesting.
Do you use humor in your messages? You should use it in your announcements. Have a compelling story? Share it. I believe it is a sin to bore people with the Bible, and it’s at least an infraction to make them less excited about an event once they’ve heard an announcement about it.
7. Back it up.
If #5 is true (once they’ve left the room, the announcement has left their mind), then we must figure out how to reinforce what they are hearing or have heard. Do that through an announcement slide behind you while you talk (with one clear bullet point of what to do), a Monday-after all-church email that recaps the announcements and action steps, and a clear spot on the front page of your website that captures your weekend announcements and more.
These seven steps means that – much like a sermon – you ought to work from a clearly thought-through, clearly-outlined, and maybe a clearly-transcripted plan. Think through those announcements. Pray over them. And then preach them to your people.