I’ve gone through all sorts of stages making announcements in worship. There was the all-the-news-in- Lake-Woebegone stage when my list was usually the length of an Isaiah scroll. There was the sprinkle- them-throughout-the-service stage. There was the let’s-get-everyone-up-front-to-make-their-own-announcement stage (which was really short-lived). And then there was Spartan stage when we only made three announcements and deciding which to make felt like Washington politics. What’s the best advice on making announcements? Here are my top 10 suggestions (some of which came from Kem Meyer at http://www.churchleadership.com/leadingideas/leaddocs/2010/100331_article.html.
1. Less is more. People have short attention spans. After three announcements they change their mental channel and you sound like Charlie Brown’s mother, “Wa wawa, wawa, wawa,” as they wonder what they are going watch on TV tonight.
2. Before or after the service. Announcements are not worship. They interrupt the flow of worship, stealing people’s focus from God. So do them either before or after. Before worked best for me.
3. Assume people don’t know you. Introduce yourself. Visitors may not know you; introducing yourself is a way of extending God’s welcome.
4. People muti-task and can’t remember squat. Just because you are talking to a bunch of people doesn’t mean you are communicating with them. Find a way to grab their attention quickly and creatively. Use humor. Reinforce the message visually with PowerPoint, bulletins, signs or a blimp. Make it memorable. Video works great!
5. People aren’t motivated by the church’s need. “We need small group leaders” and “We need your help with . . .” just sounds desperate and self-centered. Most people aren’t interested in bailing out a sinking ship. Make it about and for them: “Here’s a cool opportunity you might want to consider.” Or, “You might want to be part of this one of a kind experience.”
6. If it is not for most people there, don’t make it. Why waste people’s time making announcements that only pertain to a few people? “The Sookie Circle will meet at 4:00 this afternoon instead of 3:00.” Call them, email them or just talk to them after the service.
7. Taylor your message to your audience. If you are inviting people to a mission project and speaking to parents, be sure to mention the child care provided. If you are talking to the youth, be sure to mention the donuts.
8. Cast vision and invite. Instead of telling people what they “should” do, cast a vision for why this will bless their life and be worthy of their precious time. Then invite their consideration. Let them know: for more information see the bulletin, ask at the information desk in the lobby or check out our website.
9. Avoid insider language. Don’t run the risk of making people feel like outsiders. Avoid Meth-speak and acronyms (like UMW or MYF or SPRC). Be specific and be clear.
10. Be a good scout: be prepared. People are turned off by lack of preparation. You have 30 seconds – yes, only 30 seconds – to capture people’s attention and to tell them what they need to know. If it is important enough to announce, it is important enough to be prepared.
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Dr. Jeff Stiggins