The Epic-Fail of Church Announcements

The Epic-Fail of Church Announcements

November 21, 2011 by

Picture this scene. You’re in your pew. The worship is amazing, almost transcendent. The song ends in a moment of awe-filled silence. It’s just you and God. And then—train wreck; you are catapulted from a state of ethereal wonder to an awkward announcement about the church cookie bake-off or a video that never seems to have the sound start until seven seconds after it begins.

Nothing in the history of Christendom, save perhaps the Second Crusade, rivals the ineffectiveness of the church’s ability to accomplish an intended purpose more than the medium of in-service announcements.

I recently tweeted that I wished the Bible had some direction in regard to announcements. I was blown away by the response to that tweet. I was not alone in my frustration.

So why are announcements chronically bad? There are a number of answers: ranging from announcement guy or gal walking on stage unprepared and oblivious to where the congregation is emotively; to the presenter thinking this is a great opportunity to practice their stand-up routine.

One of the responses I received on Twitter said, “ The Bible does not have announcements, why should we?” At first I thought, “Yeah, that’s right, down with announcements altogether!” Then, I thought about it. It’s actually not true that the Bible does not have announcements. As a matter of fact, the Bible is one giant announcement.

Let’s start with Jesus. Prophets, kings, psalmists, angels and John the Baptist announced Jesus coming. Or what about the book of Revelation? Is it not just a giant announcement of what is to come? Even the rapture will start with an announcement from the heavens. Notice that these announcements really matter. There’s not a bake sale in the bunch.

Here’s the point. When we fail at offering our people life-giving announcements that really matter, we are failing at something that the word of God does extremely effectively and on purpose.

The Bible uses announcements so effectively because God understands the nature of proclamation. When done right and under the direction of the Holy Spirit, announcements have the ability to bridge people into God’s purposes for their lives. An effective announcement can see a marriage healed through the conference you are hosting or an alcoholic find sobriety through the Celebrate Recovery ministry your church sponsors. Simply put, announcements are a passage to seeing people transformed. Every time we do announcements poorly or perfunctory, it means people, your people, are missing an opportunity to be changed.

So what is the answer? It’s pretty simple. Announcements need to be valued in the same way you value worship and teaching. No, I’m not saying that your announcements are on par with the eternal word of God, but they should contribute to a functional life-giving worship experience.

  • While there is not a spiritual gift of “announcements” listed in the scriptures, I do think you want your most talented and Sprit-led people doing them.
  • Next, these people need to be prepared. Think memorized with no notes. Nothing crushes announcements like the presenter not knowing the details. When that happens, they are telling the audience, “I don’t care about this enough to know about it, so why should you?”
  • Announcements need to be covered in prayer and directly relate to the global mission of your church. While the Yahtzee ministry’s rummage sale is important, I’m not sure the entire church needs to know about it. But a night to support all the missionaries your church supports would be. This means that your in-service announcements need to push the ball down field for the whole church, not just a small section of it. The rest goes in the bulletin. Trust me, people read the bulletin.
  • Another important lesson is not to focus on what you’re doing, but why you’re doing it. The practical details of next week’s service project won’t entice anyone to come (“It starts at 7:30? Yes!”), but a story of how it changes someone’s life probably will. Put the details in the bulletin. Put why it matters on stage for people to see.

There are lots of great and creative ways to do announcements from videos to quick interviews. The medium is up to you. The non-negotiable is that they need to offer your people life.

Photo by bcmalcolm81
Post By:

Adam Stadtmiller


Adam Stadtmiller is a pastor ministering to 30-40 something's at North Coast Calvary Chapel in Carlsbad where he lives with his wife Karie and two daughters Lily and Lucy. Adam also is an author with Gospel Light/Regal.
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43 Responses to “The Epic-Fail of Church Announcements”

  • Rae Whitlock
    November 21, 2011

    Simplest thing to do would be to do announcements before the worship service formally begins (ie: before the Call to Worship, or whatever analogous thing you have). Very first thing after “Welcome to (insert church name here).”


    • Nancy
      November 29, 2011

      This is what we do at our church. Announcements are done before a call to worship, before we enter into a time of reverent worship. It seems to work well.


  • Marc Aune
    November 21, 2011

    I completely agree with this entire post, save for one thing: we have found that *certain* people read the bulletin, but many do not. Or perhaps most read the bulletin, but the messages contained within are quickly forgotten.

    We have found the bulletin is a good supplement to what is being said during the service—a point of reference for details like dates, times, and what to bring—but rarely should it be the sole place to mention certain pieces of information.


  • mittelsteadt
    November 21, 2011

    We’ve made a push to calling them “Ministry Reminders” to keep a focus to what is is supposed to do. Just before our closing song we will have one or two call-to-action announcements. A “reminder of what you can do this week for your faith life.” If it isn’t a specific call to act on something that week – it doesn’t get called out. Of course that’s the ideal…


  • Mark Ahrens
    November 21, 2011

    I think my local home church ROCKHARBOR implements this blog’s ideas very well already. Our announcements follow 25min of opening worship right before the teaching. They rotate staff leaders or pastors from the church to present them so we see fresh faces. Each person speaks in an engaging, passionate, and notes-free way. Sometimes a video or personal interview is involved and the emotional “why” of getting involved is almost always clear. Wish I had a video to share as an example.


  • Teri
    November 21, 2011

    We have started making the announcements prayer requests. We share them during the joys and concerns–as in “we celebrate and give thanks for the opportunity to bake cookies for the annual Mission Cookie Sale, and we pray for those who will come to the sale, that they may experience hospitality, and for those who will be helped by the money we raise. We’re also praying for the bakers and volunteers, as they serve God in this way–if you’d like to be a baker or volunteer, please contact so-and-so and help us fulfill this part of our mission.” It takes a little more time, but it does remind people to be in prayer for our ministries and programs, as well as to participate. More people are hearing the announcements too, since they’re in the middle of the service. When they were at the beginning, we noticed that a lot of people were arriving 5 minutes late and missing the announcements altogether…


  • Matthew
    November 21, 2011

    The bottom line is that if the announcer thinks the news is important and vital to the life of the church, there’s a pretty good chance other people will take the announcement seriously.

    My old church made a point of doing announcements immediately after sending the kids to Sunday School. It was a perfect segue. The kids all bumped and stumbled out of the sanctuary and then it was, “we’re just going to take a few moments to talk about and celebrate what God’s doing in our community.”

    I personally loathe the kind of corporate worship ‘high’ that can be ‘ruined’ by announcements. Luckily I attend a liturgical church now so I don’t have to deal with that.


  • Kelly
    November 21, 2011

    A agree with this completely. Most churches already put the announcement in a printed format as a bulletin/order of service and also have websites to post such information. One of our pastors said the other night that “you have a communicator in your hand and I am going to let it do its job!”


    • Dan
      November 21, 2011

      I would say, however, that it must be an effective communicator. People only read print material that has well thought out design and content as well. Just like we want our “hosts” to be prepared, I think we want our print material/bulletins to be “prepared” as well.


  • Tim
    November 21, 2011

    I have moved them to the end. We are a liturgical tradition, so the final part of our liturgy is the “sending”. I try to limit announcements to items that are about how we go and be church, opportunities to be part of God’s mission to the world through the church. Might that be a bake sale? Yes. But we don’t need to belabor it. People are smart enough to hear “There is a bake sale in the fellowship room to support our youth mission trip” and govern themselves accordingly. Ditto “Remember donations for the community food pantry”. They should be signs pointing towards ministry opportunities, not instructions in ministry.


  • daniel
    November 21, 2011

    I enjoyed the article. It is a prayer that I often pray as the announcements are being given: That the message be communicated and the “cheese” and distraction is minimized.
    We do our announcements after our first worship song. The first song is usually when people start making there way from the lobby into the sanctuary for worship. Although I want to believe that everyone reads the bulletin with as much care as I prepare it, I am not certain that it is true. I have always wanted to put a note in the bulletin that says, “If you see this message tell Daniel and he will give you $5.” and see how much I pay out.


    • Lianne
      December 1, 2011

      Ha, that’s funny.
      Maybe ask them to tell “xxx” (someone not well known) and see how many people ask …”Who is xxx?”


  • Vikki Randall
    November 21, 2011

    we have also moved announcements to the end, right before the closing blessing, where they serve as a sort of “going forth”– a way of extending our worship beyond the doors of the church and taking Christ into our lives. As the article mentioned, that requires really thinking about why you’re doing whatever it is your announcing. And if what we’re doing doesn’t fit that “taking Christ out into the world” paradigm… maybe we should reconsider whether we need to be doing it at all.


  • pastormike
    November 21, 2011

    This has been an on-going battle at our church for years now. We have many who believe that if something is announced from the pulpit, that it will be a wild success, and therefore want anything they do to be announced. Historically this has been proven to be incorrect. Personal invitation seems to always work best.
    Therefore, we have done away with 95% of announcements and will only speak about things pertaining to the whole church. We have found that many times the “announcer” is unprepared because someone asked them 2 minutes before the service to announce something. We have effectively eliminated that issue with our stance. We encourage the following alternatives to a service announcement:
    1. Personal invitation
    2. Email
    3. Mailings (postcards, letters)
    4. Newsletter
    5. Phone calls
    6. PowerPoint before & after service
    7. Webpage
    8. Weekly announcement sheets (available at each door after church)
    9. Facebook/Twitter
    10. Displays or Bulletins boards


  • Rev Jeff
    November 21, 2011

    We send out an e-mail on Friday with every announcement. Every announcement is also in the bulletin. Sometimes we will make a 2-sentence spoken announcement right before the service begins. Nothing long-winded, and they are scripted, not ad-lib. The criteria for these spoken announcements are: It developed after Friday or it’s critical to the life of the congregation.


  • Dennis
    November 21, 2011

    Thanks for the article!! I think that for many churches the “announcement time” can be too frustrating and too time consuming. We do a few things regarding announcements:
    1) They are given early in the service. We open up with a song, have a greeting time and then do the announcements. This gets them taken care of before the bulk of the service begins.
    2) We place time limits. Short and sweet. No long, rambling announcements.
    3) We will use power point and videos for certain things so it’s not always blah, blah, blah
    4) No last minute requests for announcements to be made. If you want an announcement made it must be submitted by noon on Wednesday and be approved by the Lead Pastor. This is true for both verbal and written announcements.

    This few things have helped us to control the number of announcement made, who gives them and how long they take. Yet, it is still a frustrating venture even with these policies in place.


  • Jason
    November 21, 2011

    Good stuff. We’ve gone to calling them vision announcements. Requirements are that the affect all our people or all men, all women & they are directly related to part of our vision. Goal this next year is for someone to hear & see our vision through the service & annc will play a little role in this. The why is much more important than the what…thats what the web is for!


  • A.J. Swoboda
    November 21, 2011

    We precede the announcing of good news by the announcing of boring news. I think it’s a good set up. ;)


  • Adam Stadtmiller
    November 22, 2011

    Great responses. I have enjoyed your replies as much as I did writing the article.


  • Mike
    November 22, 2011

    I agree let’s lift the valuation of “notices”.
    God has been showing me that the whole of Christian/Church life needs to move from simply communicating information to brokering transformation. What else are we in the business of Gods Kingdom for?


  • Elaine
    November 22, 2011

    We have titled ours “Opportunities for Ministry” and yes, some religiously read the bulletin, others not so much. We usually sing after the sermon and the opportunities are shared then (and yes…on a priority level). Those are followed by the sharing of thanksgiving and concerns and the prayers of the people.


  • Jennifer A.
    November 23, 2011

    It’s been said that you need to tell someone something 5 times before they will remember it. I am not sure about that but I can guarantee that you need to tell people things in multiple mediums because a bulletin or just a weekly email isn’t going to do it. I agree with Rae (the first comment), just do them before the worship time! There is no reason for them to kill the mood, when you could easily change when they are. My church does them before worship and it doesn’t ruin anything. And like pastormike said, only do announcements that pertain to all-church events or issues. People won’t tune back in after they tune out for an announcement that doesn’t pertain to them.

    Oh, and don’t do videos unless you are going to make them awesome and work every time. They are too time consuming and distracting if there is glitches.


    • Lianne
      December 1, 2011

      I think there is value in communicating announcements in different formats to appeal to different people as they absorb things in different ways. Some are auditory, some are visual, some are tactile… So it is to be expected that some people won’t read the bulletin, or might not read their email (they might not be actively computer oriented) or be mod-socially to use Twitter or Facebook, or just be too plain busy to bother during the week and missed it. I agree with competent delivery during a service…. and even flexibility to postpone your announcement slot so that it does not interfere with the evident mood of the service up to that point. Advertisers will however agree that being noticed is everything, even if you don’t sympathise with the message. So some people would say that if you want your message noticed, actually break up the service mood and people will notice. It has to be carefully done so that you don’t completely turn off the listeners so that they no longer wish to support that event/project, but at least people will remember about it. Thankfully I am not technically into marketing. I like the idea of a Powerpoint loop or messages that flow with the message prior, and I like well constructed video announcements. If you can’t achieve it well, then don’t bother, as you will both wreck the mood and hinder your announcement message.

      Having a person up front though for a key announcement can be really effective…. and even match the mood of the congregation … you need the right person, the right message and the right delivery.

      To me there is no ONE answer, no one way…
      ….hey, hold on!

      actually there is ONE answer, ONE way…

      ask God and you will find it.


  • Varon Cook
    November 27, 2011

    Sounds like a good way to cause hurt feelings. I really don’t get this site. It’s just life. Some things don’t have to be over the top productions, church announcements included. Preaching and singing shouldn’t be productions either for that matter. Save the special effects and rehearsals for church plays. I’m not going to go to a member of my church and say, sorry Hal, your not that good at reading the announcements, we need someone more talented. Get real. What next, more attractive members to fill our pews? I’m sorry sir, we only let our most talented members give testimony. Ma’am, we can’t allow you to sing until you’ve visited a voice coach. Only communication majors need apply for the church announcements position. It’s too much, man. I’m amazed that there are actually people in our churches who sit around lamenting how boring their church’s announcements are. Oh brother, we’ve got to spice these announcements up! We’ll lose a lost and dying world if we can’t make those church announcements at least as appealing as comedy central. Have you all lost your minds?


    • Lianne
      December 1, 2011

      Ye, Varon, I agree that we shouldn’t go over the top and be super-sensitive.. .
      And not every church is going to have someone who is capable of delivering announcements in the “right” way (whatever that may be for that congregation)… but should they ignore the best way to connect with the congregation without disrupting the mood?

      While I might agree that there is potential for pandering to a slick professionalism and the potential to put down excellent, well meaning and totally worthy people (who are focussed on serving, living Christ, and not on delivery of announcements), I think that some examination of how we deliver all of our messages is valuable. You are right that some might be reacting to congregational murmurings, and there may be individual preferences too.

      I don’t think however that there has been any intention to restrict announcements to professionals or to slick presenters only. I would hope that in a God-led congregation that they would give the time of day to someone who was heartfelt, even if they can’t deliver in a TV presenter manner.


    • Mike Harvey
      December 3, 2011

      Varone, I get what you’re saying, but delivery is just as important as the message itself. If you can’t effectively communicate your message, it doesn’t matter what that message is because chances are no one is listening anymore.

      That doesn’t mean they need to be slick over produced sideshows, but someone stammering and tripping over their tongues trying to tell everyone about the Yahtzee club’s bake sale becomes a distraction that can have a negative effect on everything that follows in the service by inadvertently causing folks to disengage.

      And yes, if someone can’t sing, I’m not going to want them leading worship. Singing in the pews is one thing, but put a microphone in front of them and project that into the entire sanctuary when they’re way off key and can’t keep a beat is going to become a distraction to folks worship experience.


  • Vicki
    November 29, 2011

    We put most announcements on a PowerPoint loop before and after the service. If something is ‘super’ important, it is mentioned after the sermon, and also via a ‘taped message’ phone call to the church family. If you have yet to use a calling system, they are fantastic, not only for the entire church body, but for smaller groups as well, such as choirs, worship teams, ministry teams, etc. One that we like is http://www.callingpost.org. It takes a minimal amount of time to set up, and each call is a little as five cents for a 30-second message that will go to any calling area in the USA. This can be a lifesaver!


  • Wendy Gordy
    November 29, 2011

    This has been an interesting read this morning, and it is alot like the “worship wars” that go on in a Church. I sometimes think we’ve lost the focus of living out and sharing the LIFE CHANGING TRUTH OF JESUS! I am a Worship Pastor at our Church, and I will be honest and say that we’ve gone round and round with the best way to communicate what is happening in the life of the Church. My opinion (and it’s just that) is that is works well to have a “host” who can welcome everyone, set the tone of the morning, give out the information in a clear and concise way, someone who is authentic both on and off the stage. We have placed our announcements in various spots-sometimes we sing 1 or 2 songs. Announcements and then go back into a time of worship before the message. We have had moments where it was awkward, yes, but there have been mornings where the music/worship lead to some profound moments of prayer and engaging from our announcement person. I do agree that the more they (announcement) know the better. The sooner we can prepare them for Sunday-all the better. We have a team of 3 people who rotate, it’s a familiar face, they know the heart of what we are striving to do on a Sunday and it seems to work more than not. I think it’s nice for the congregation to get to see another face up on stage as well :D
    We have thought about videos but sometimes, just a simple “hello, glad you are here” goes a long way! By the way, I read the last post (Varon) and tend to agree that we have gone far away from the Gospel and brought our focus to slick worship services that could rank right up there with the best TV show. I’m not sure that is how our Savior lived His life, shared His Truth and gave His life…He is the TRUTH, He is the WAY and He is the LIFE-it may be time to shut down the lights, glitz and glamor and give people the WORDS OF LIFE they are longing to hear.


    • Lianne
      December 1, 2011

      Hey, agree with you.
      Variation, and coping with awkwardness, and preparation. Excellent points.
      I think too that it will depend widely on the congregation, the congregation mix, and even the congregation size and relationship with the presenters and worship leaders.


  • John
    November 29, 2011

    We have always done our announcements at the very beginning of the service, as suggested by another reader. When people arrive, there is already lots of distraction and things happening as people get settled in, so the announcements for us really act as an icebreaker, or focal point to get people away from all the fussing about and start to engage. We finish the announcements with our formal welcome, and then get into worship. It seems to work pretty well as a buffer between arriving at church and engaging in worship. By the time we sing our first song, most people are now ready to engage.


  • Brandon Halliburton
    November 30, 2011

    We usually have prayer before our praise and worship portion of our service. I think that is rather appropriate. We actually moved our announcements from the end of the service to after our choir sings. After the announcements we have our offering. This seems to work very well without the flow of the service being interrupted.


  • eric
    November 30, 2011

    You need to have your church check out http://www.pro-nounce.com. Its a service where they provide announcements for churches on HD video. Its 100% customizable and people all over the country use them. They make it so you can put the annc before/after/wherever in the service and they are done with such high-quality yet because they use professional writers and presenters, the video is usually only 2-3 min long and is tons more effective than the traditional way. Check them out on twitter, too @pro_nounce


  • Mike Harvey
    December 3, 2011

    My church does video announcements a la “Weekend Update” format, and I do the shooting and editing of them (which I should be working on right now). They aren’t “slick” (i.e. overproduced with whiz bang effects). We’ve found that trying to be funny every week is 1) hard to do, and 2) usually isn’t. If we’re funny, we’re funny. We also limit who we ask to do it, because some folks are simply just bad… and when people ask to be in them, because they just want to be in them, we usually say no. They’re usually under 3 minutes, and we keep it to only the “big” announcements.

    We’ve found that 1) it saves time in the service that can best be allocated to other things, 2) does not kill the energy of the service, and usually gets a few laughs at the beginning of the service without having them become a distraction.


  • Kyle Duncan
    December 12, 2011

    When I was 12 years old Keith Green came to our church’s junior high winter camp. He sat at the piano and just started playing. An hour later he stopped playing and preached to us for another hour–a bunch of squirrelly junior high kids, and you couldn’t have heard a pin drop. I can’t imagine someone interrupting that to announce that both inner-tubing and “guitar for beginners” would be offered the next day. Put it in the bulletin–or tell it to those who want to hear either before or after the service. Announcements. Bah humbug.


  • Andy Wittwer
    December 13, 2011

    We’ve done the same thing for ages and it feels like it’s time to mix it up. I like the end of the service idea.

    I feel like announcements generally place the importance on the event rather than the value. In the long run, X event is completely unimportant, but we hope that X event moves people toward Jesus. Hunger for Christ should result in engagement in church life.

    It’s easy to get tied up in building and promoting platters instead of whetting appetites.


  • Jonathan Adolphus
    January 2, 2012

    Certainly a good article. It gives me a few things to think about.

    At our Church (Life Church Parramatta), we started producing video announcements about 6 months back. It is placed after praise and worship, which i think is fine (i guess it is our only option as we have a lot of people whom come in late and leave as soon as church concludes) Church news usually consists of two talents announcing different things in front of a white screen, with fast paced background music and graphics (opening / closing title sequence amongst other things) . The announcements seem to work quite well. We have received positive comments from church goers. It provides a means of shortening our announcements and integrating any promotional videos created for the church very easily. It flows much better than a person standing at the front and attempting to deliver a bunch of announcements all at once (though that does happen to a small extent still for last minute announcements and the welcome).

    Some of the main reasons we pushed for video announcements is the fact that you can control the time 2 min average with a rare 3 min. 2nd fact is that people seem to be less distracted during video announcements as the hall lights dim and people look at the screen. When we have a person delivering the announcements the hall lights are up, the person delivering the announcements may make mistakes, lets not forget body language and tone of voice. It is critical that announcements are communicated in an effective and relevant manner (the article does a great job of highlighting this when it states “When done right and under the direction of the Holy Spirit, announcements have the ability to bridge people into God’s purposes for their lives. An effective announcement can see a marriage healed through the conference you are hosting or an alcoholic find sobriety through the Celebrate Recovery ministry your church sponsors. Simply put, announcements are a passage to seeing people transformed. Every time we do announcements poorly or perfunctory, it means people, your people, are missing an opportunity to be changed.”) Finally, It allows us to push forward our logo, design scheme and communicate who we are as a church. The advantage of video announcements is that all of these factors can be controlled far better. Finally, they video announcements can be posted on the net.

    Video announcements are produced by me ( a TV student at Hillsong College ) so our news is constantly improving as I learn more. Its being fine tunned on a weekly basis (progress is always good). We use church news in combination with a weekly bulletin and our webpage. Eventually we will move into twitter, facebook and email (via mailchimp) as well.

    I dont know why i spent time commenting here but i hope it helps someone.

    God Bless


  • Tyson Reuer
    January 2, 2012

    Thanks for this article. I have been very frustrated with the announcements in my youth ministry lately. I am glad to know other people feel the same way and this gave me good ideas for future changes.


  • Pierre Joubert
    January 20, 2012

    Thank you Adam for an awesome article and everyone’s input. All the points raised are very valid and helpful.


  • Aaron
    February 6, 2014

    I liked the article. I do the video announcements for my church. People like it and it seems to keep them engaged and it doesn’t take me more then 3 hours a week to put it together. Cheers!
    Here is an example of what I do weekly. https://vimeo.com/85502644



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