The Complete Guide to Church Announcements
July 18, 2018 |
Announcements are like potlucks. Every church has them, but not every church does them well. It’s that time in the service full of mini-commercials for upcoming events and need-to-know information, and sometimes they’re a chore to sit through.
Most of the time, churches treat announcements like any other item on the pastoral to-do list. Important events get a shoutout in the service, but does anyone really hear them?
For a lot of people, announcements are an opportunity to mentally check out. They see it as the most boring part of the service, and that’s because very little thought goes into making announcements fun, memorable, and engaging—but you can change that.
Why Are Announcements Important?
There’s a big difference between how you prepare to entertain your best friend and how you get ready to have a stranger over. When someone you don’t know too well comes by, you look at your home differently. You see it through a stranger’s eyes, and you notice all the crumbs in the carpet and smudges on the windows. When a friend comes over for the millionth time, you don’t think about any of that. After all, it’s “just us.”
Similarly, announcements tend to have a “just us” feel to them. We spend a lot of time thinking about every other element of the service. We try and see the sermon and music through a visitor’s eyes, but for some reason, we don’t think about announcements that way.
Most of the time, we treat announcements like a brief pit stop on the way to the more critical parts of the service. But we should take them more seriously. When we don’t think through announcements, we miss out on significant opportunities to communicate to visitors.
For many forward-thinking churches, investing in a custom church app helps them better prioritize announcements. With an easy-to-update app, they feel more urgency to keep their information fresh and make sure announcements are published on the app and made in person on a regular basis. For information on how a customizable church app can serve your church and help better manage announcements, talk to a Pushpay expert today.
What Announcements Reveal
Announcements are more than updates on the stuff that your church does. They’re a statement about your priorities and what’s meaningful to you. For church members, they’re a reminder of the ways your theology intersects with your behavior. But you also need to see them as a way to convey your priorities as a church to your visitors.
This is why you need to be choosy about the items you bring up during announcements. It might feel like listing every single thing the church is doing makes visitors think, “Wow, there’s a lot of stuff going on there. It must be a really exciting place.” But the truth is that the more opportunities you mention, the more people will tune you out and miss the significance of what you’re doing.
You want to focus on the essentials and help people make the connection between your values and your activities.
Here are some tips to help you choose the right announcements.
Non-Negotiables for Church Announcements
Before we get to tips to make your announcements more engaging, let’s go over a few tips to ensure that every announcement given in church is significant.
1. Focus on the priorities
Engagement and interest are inversely proportional to the number of announcements you give. The more opportunities and information you try to communicate, the higher the chance that you’re going to lose people. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to shorten your announcement time. If you allow seven minutes during the service for announcements, spend that time reminding people about one or two events or opportunities instead of five.
If in-church announcements are the only tool you use to get the word out about valuable information, it’s time to start looking at your other communication channels. Announcing things during a service becomes less important when you’re using other tools effectively. (We’ll look at this a little more closely in a bit.)
2. Stop winging it
Does every announcement need a script? No. But there should be a plan. Before you give an announcement, you should be able to answer the following questions:
- What are the specifics I need to communicate? Spend some time figuring out the who, what, why, when, and where questions first.
- How does this announcement tie into our priorities and values?
- How am I going to communicate this in a way that people will find interesting?
- How much time do I have?
This means that no one should be able to walk up five minutes before the service and say, “Hey, I need about three minutes to make a quick announcement.” It shouldn’t work that way. Train people to prepare in advance for announcements by communicating the importance of this time.
There are a lot of announcements you repeat every week: Welcome, offering, small groups, etc. Take advantage of a template or script. It makes it easy to be clear and precise. You can find a lot of scripts online that you can use for your service or for inspiration.
3. Announcements are about community
Back in the old days of late-night television, hosts like Steve Allen had to do periodic ads for their sponsor. They’d stop everything to plug dog food, paper towels, or coffee brands. This is the way it feels when churches think of announcements as ads.
Every announcement is an opportunity to make connections with the people who are present. Church members are not customers for whatever task or opportunity you’re announcing. The events and opportunities your church offers exist to serve and nurture the people who are listening. It’s vital that we understand and present them that way.
If you’re announcing an upcoming bake sale, don’t just tell us the details. Offer something more than what it’s intended to raise money for. Help your church understand how their involvement fulfills the mission of the church and grows the kingdom. Make announcements less about what you need from people and more about how their participation will benefit them. Seek to inspire first and inform second.
4. Don’t forget to suggest calls to action
If you give people an announcement without a clear next step, you’re asking them to forget it. People don’t need every possible detail. They need the main points and then instructions on what to do next. Where can they get more information? Who should they talk to if they want to get involved? How can they sign up? A call to action reduces the dissonance by telling people exactly what’s expected of them next.
12 Tips for Creating the Best Announcements
Here are a few ideas to kick your church’s announcements up a notch. Peruse these to find inspiration for your church.
1. Find the right point person
One of the reasons announcements are typically so terrible is because there’s not a lot of thought put into them as their own segment of the service. Too often, they’re given by the pastor (whose mind is on more pressing matters), or it’s a collection of people with varying public-speaking abilities.
Find someone who can own announcements. This person should understand the value that announcements can bring, be able to come up with creative ideas, and be an engaging speaker. (If your church has a communications pastor, that’s a good place to start your search). This role is to own this part of the service, which includes…
- Being the point person for various ministries
- Prioritizing announcements and assigning them to proper communication channels
- Delegating the creation of media needs like graphics or videos
- Giving announcements
2. Use all of your communication channels
The service isn’t the only time you communicate with your church. There are more communication platforms than ever before, and when you use them intentionally and strategically, they become powerful tools for keeping everyone informed.
Social media: Platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook are the perfect places to communicate with people about things that are coming up. And it’s an easy way for visitors to stay up-to-date on the things you’re doing.
The more you understand the ins and outs of these platforms, the more powerful they become for you. For instance, a thoughtfully curated Facebook Event is so much more useful than a mention on Sunday morning. It’s easy to invite people, you can see who’s attending, invited people receive automatic RSVP reminders, and you can communicate directly with the people who need your updates most.
Email: This is another fantastic tool for communicating with your church members. It’s one of the most commonly accepted ways for organizations to communicate, and the engagement for email is pretty high. Email is incredibly useful for communicating because you can utilize different lists for different groups. Every announcement doesn’t have to go out to every person.
Bulletins: One of the funny things about church bulletins is that we share most of the same information from the stage. It’s almost like we’re training people not to read them. When you teach your church to see the bulletin as a source of significant and exclusive information, they become more invested in reading it, making it a helpful source for the information they need to be aware of.
Pre-service slides: A lot of people are in their seats up to ten minutes before the service starts. Take advantage of this time to let people know what’s happening by displaying announcements. The key to doing this effectively is to design attractive and engaging slides. Don’t get carried away trying to cram a bunch of stuff in each slide or too many announcements in the morning’s rotation.
Choose two or three announcements slides every week.
Website: There should be a calendar of events on your site. When people know where to go to find up-to-date information, you won’t have to hold their hand to keep them informed.
Mobile app: Your church’s mobile app is an announcement powerhouse. Most of the channels you would use to communicate your church’s goings-on can be accessed through your mobile app. On top of that, tools like push notifications and geofencing can be used to send reminders to specific groups based on various criteria.
3. Think about who you’re talking to
One of the biggest reasons people tune out of in-service announcements is because they’re often meant for a small segment of your church. Every time you use service time to speak only to men, small-group attendees, or business owners, you lose everyone else. If you do that too often, people check out before you even get started.
If you’re going to use service time for announcements, make sure they apply to a large percentage (if not all) of your audience. If you need to remind a small segment of your church about an upcoming event, find a more appropriate communication channel.
4. Make your announcements visual
When you visually reinforce information, people retain it better. If you want your announcements remembered, include a visual cue. Add a well-designed slide for each of your announcements. You don’t have to get all of the information in the image—just a few key points. You’ll find that using images in your announcements will draw and hold people’s attention better than just a person with a mic.
Pro Church Media has a lot of excellent links for free church media resources. You can use these in your announcements or use them as springboards for your own ideas. If you’re looking for high-quality stock photos you can use for slides, check out Unsplash. You’ll find a lot of great images for any number of applications.
5. Utilize video whenever you can
Video isn’t magic, so recording someone reading the announcements isn’t going to be more compelling than having them read from the stage. But if you approach it right, video can be a remarkably helpful tool for communicating with your congregation. It can be as easy as showcasing last year’s event or talking to people who have benefitted from similar programs you’ve done in the past.
Even if you’re a smaller church that doesn’t have its own media team, you’d be surprised at how easy it is to make engaging videos. Some churches produce incredibly engaging announcement videos with an iPhone and some free editing software. You just need to be creative as you think about ways to show rather than tell.
If you’re looking to get your feet wet in the video editing department, check out Lightworks, Hitfilm Express, DaVinci Resolve, and Shotcut. These video editors are free to get started and make creating video announcements a breeze.
6. When in doubt, use stories
We’ve already addressed the need to help church members see the connection between the what your church is doing and what it values. It’s also helpful to inspire people by helping them recognize the potential positive outcomes.
If you’re giving an announcement for a short-term mission trip, start with a story that demonstrates why this is important. Maybe you’ve taken multiple trips to this location, and you can talk about the impact it has had on the people you’ve served. You could also find someone in the church whose life was dramatically impacted by a short-term mission and inspire people that way. The key is to use stories to help people envision possibilities.
7. Find the right time for your announcements
Some churches make announcements at the beginning of the service, while others wait until the very end. Some even squeeze them in between the music and the message. Good luck trying to find any consensus on the best time. Churches are all over the map on this question.
It’s hard to come to any consensus because every church is different. You need to find the best time in the service for your congregation. Don’t stick to your current practice because it’s what you’ve always done. Is everyone too distracted at the beginning of the service to pay attention? Try closing with announcements. Are people starting to leave during the closing song? Move the announcements to earlier in the service.
Be intentional about how you arrange your service.
8. Work announcements into the sermon
Sometimes the best possible response will come from turning an announcement into a sermon illustration. People are listening intently to your message (hopefully), so use that as an opportunity to pitch your most important events.
Talking about the Great Commission? Use the sermon as a reason to talk about an upcoming fundraiser for missions. Are you holding a 50th-anniversary celebration for your church? Pitch it during a message on leaving a legacy. Find unique ways to work what your church is doing into your sermons.
9. Enlist your staff to lead from the pack
On the average Sunday morning, your staff and volunteers connect with a lot of people. Why not use that to the church’s advantage? Every week you can assign them an announcement or two to remind people about when they cross paths.
It doesn’t have to be a drawn-out spiel. It can be as simple as, “I’m hoping we’ll see you at the car wash this Saturday!” The benefit of this approach should be obvious. It’s a lot harder for people to blow off a direct invitation than it is to ignore an announcement from the pulpit!
10. Use a tag-team approach
There’s a reason why every morning show on the radio has two hosts. It allows them to play off of each other and create a more engaging and exciting dialogue. If the chemistry is right, it can create a fun (and informative) atmosphere. Why not try the same thing at church?
If your church has a couple of people with great chemistry, use them to give your announcements every week. Two people with the right rapport can be the recipe for an announcement segment that everyone looks forward to.
11. Keep visitors in mind
It’s already been said, but it’s important enough to touch on again. Don’t get too insider-focused. Churches often think of members when we make plans, and we pitch these opportunities to the church. It makes sense: They need the support of church members to sustain their various endeavors.
Unfortunately, this means that there are portions of the service where they’re only talking to regular attendees, and visitors feel like outsiders. Instead, churches should think about these things as opportunities to get visitors plugged in. And the only thing that needs to change is church’s perspective about announcements and the language that they use.
12. Stop using announcements as a recruitment tool
The minute a middle-school teacher starts asking for input and feedback, the same kids always put their hands up—and a lot the other kids do everything in their power to avoid eye contact. The same is true for grown-ups at church. If you use announcements as a time to try and drum up volunteers, you’re asking people not to pay attention.
It’s not a cardinal sin to use announcements to ask for help, but it should be rare. There are so many better ways to recruit people to serve. Don’t rely on announcements for it.
Is It Time to Consider a Mobile App?
Every once and awhile, a piece of technology comes around with the potential to solve a myriad of problems. For churches, a mobile app is one of those game-changing technologies. It’s not just that a church app will improve your announcement game; it has the potential to transform everything from your communication to your giving.
The Pew Research Center claims that 77 percent of Americans own smartphones, up from 35 percent in 2011. They’re using apps to do all kinds of things like shop, do their banking, get directions, and share their lives on social media. With your own church app, it can also be the tool they use to…
- Access the church’s content and media
- Stay up to date with your calendar
- Register and pay for events
- Pay their tithes and offerings
A lot of your church is already using their phones to read the Bible—and you’d probably be surprised to see how much of your website traffic is coming from mobile devices. Why wouldn’t you tap into that trend?
If you’re ready to learn more about how an app will jumpstart your engagement and breathe new life into your giving, talk to an expert today to get started!