I was worshiping in a congregation (in the last year) that had Adventist Church on the sign, but might as well have called themselves the Announcement Church, because that’s all they did. They had one person do announcements from the front in Power Point, followed by another person who reaffirmed the previous announcements with no power point, followed by the pastor who highlighted yet some others. It easily took almost 20 minutes, probably closer to 30.
This does not happen every week, but too often to be overlooked. I personally believe, through experience and research, which guests don’t really come to church looking to find out when the next fund raising car wash is. I have also been to enough growing, healthy churches that do minimal announcements from the front to know a church can thrive with a change in this area. Here are five suggestions you can use if you want to be more sensitive to guests (and members):
1. Change the name: I believe you can live without announcements from the front, but if you mustdo them, changing the name of that section can be helpful. Calling them announcementswill produce the blank stare and yawn. Call them Highlights.Opportunities. Whatever you do, maximum time should be 3 minutes.
2. Change the delivery method: Millennials and Builders share and process information differently. People in marketing will tell you that individuals need to hear information at least 3 times before it makes an impact. So use: Website; Text message; QR Codes; Power Points on loop in lobby or sanctuary; Videos; Social Media; Announcement Table. This takes time and takes preparation. Since many churches run on a week to week crisis mode, instead of early intentional planning it will require the leadership to dedicate the time necessary to make this work.
3. Change the time: I have seen announcements done at the most inopportune times. These are:
· At the very beginning. No one is there!
· After a very stirring and powerful praise time. Announcements are to worship what pins are to balloons.
· Right before the sermon. Just preach dude.
· Right after the closing song. Let the people go!
4. Change the length: Never more than 3 minutes. Your job as a leader is not to do it like it has always been done, but to do it right!
5. Change the delivery person: the last church I pastored, we eliminated up-front, lengthy announcements. We used the bulletin and I personally announced in the worship service one or two of the most important upcoming opportunities. This is tricky, because some pastors have the gift of making a short announcement into an hour long diatribe. But usually when the pastor speaks, it carries weight. Please don’t do it right before you preach or ask people to sit and wait for a last announcement right after you preach. It takes a while for people to adjust. But they do.
I hope this is helpful. More prayer. More word. More study. More fellowship. More music. Less announcements.
Roger Hernandez is ministerial and evangelism director for the Southern Union Conference