Most of us have entered the twilight zone of worship announcements at some point. A person approaches the pulpit with the same gait as one walking the plank. A piece of paper unfolds, multiple times. The throat clears … loudly. What follows is usually awkward, many times painful, and sometimes memorable in all the wrong ways.
In one of my churches, 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 Aunt Geraldine’s funeral.
Those minutes are valuable. Every moment in a corporate gathering is important and should bring glory to God. Church leaders should guard the congregation from the black hole of endless droning about next Thursday’s fish fry.
Additionally, church leaders should guard less skilled communicators from the undeserved pressure of performing in an area they are not gifted. There are times when it is edifying for an unskilled communicator to share something 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 cut the announcements out of a worship service entirely. But, I believe such a move is a mistake.
Churches don’t necessarily need more announcements; 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 will have to figure out ways to communicate to 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, then announce it for several weeks.
Bigger churches are getting bigger. Whether or not you like the trend, it’s occurring. If you pastor a large, growing church, then the problem of attendance frequency is exacerbated. Not only are people attending less frequently, many of them don’t know the usual drill because they’re new. Newer people — especially the unchurched — are likely to be confused about most of what happens in the church. The more you communicate what’s important, the likelier they are to pick up on it.
Most people don’t retain information after being told once. I don’t. You probably don’t either. One of the best ways to highlight what you consider important is to repeat it. One of the best ways to highlight what you consider important is to repeat it.
Generations process information differently. Millennials are more likely to receive an important 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 at the same time.
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. Rather, the answer is announcing what’s important more often.
Sam S. Rainer III serves as president of Rainer Research (rainerresearch.com), a firm dedicated to providing answers for better church health. He also is the senior pastor at Stevens Street Baptist Church in Cookeville, TN. He writes, speaks, and consults on church health issues. You can connect with Sam at @samrainer or at his blog, samrainer.wordpress.com.