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.
Announcements in the Bible
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.
- The Best: 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.
- Preparation: 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?”
- Prayer: 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.
- Share the Why: 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