Announcements Should Be the Last Resort

Announcements Should Be the Last Resort

September 24, 2018 by

Too often in churches the Sunday morning announcement is the go-to communication channel. When anyone wants something communicated, they want a platform announcement.

That’s a terrible idea. Announcements should be the last resort.

Do something else.

Ministry leaders may love church announcements, but they’re not exactly the most effective:

  • The more you announce, the less people remember.
  • Announcements are blasting your entire congregation with a message that’s probably geared for a minority.
  • Announcements are like broad, mass media advertising. Like TV commercials or billboards. They’re among the least effective forms of advertising because it’s one-way broadcasting. Relational, conversational approaches can be much more effective.

We turn to announcements and bulletin blurbs because they’re easy. But what if you could make your announcements more effective while also better serving ministries?

Blast your entire church with a message geared for a dozen kids and their parents? Let’s not.

How to Do It

When ministry leaders come begging for an announcement, because they will, think through a marketing strategy that’s likely to be more effective.

  • Ask them questions about what they’ve tried in the past, what’s worked and what hasn’t, and what would be a win for them.
  • Ask what resources they have at their disposal. Think existing volunteers, contacts and connections, budgets, etc.
  • Ask what makes their audience unique. Many of our ministries aren’t focused on the entire church, so there are demographic differences we can use for more effective communication.

Instead of broadcasting (one-way), think relationships (two-way).

Instead of mass market, think targeted audiences.

Instead of information, think inspiration.

Instead of always jumping to a platform announcement, work with your ministry leaders to think of another approach that might be more effective.

Non-Announcement Strategies

Let’s look at a few examples:

Youth Volunteers

The youth leader comes to you asking for a platform announcement because they need more volunteers. They figure the more people they can blast this opportunity to, the more likely the are to get a few people.

But instead of blasting the entire congregation with this message, what if you narrowly targeted people more likely to commit?

Try an “Everyone Ask One” effort where the current youth volunteers are encouraged to recruit just one friend to join them in ministry. Create some marketing pieces for the effort, maybe a flier, an email—it doesn’t need to be very involved. It just needs to communicate the basic idea to the volunteers, give them a few tips on how to recruit people, and give next steps for the new recruits (sign up here, call pastor Jamie, etc.). You might roll the plan out in a few stages and have some reminders or share some success stories to build momentum.

It’s a strategy where everyone wins:

  • The volunteers basically become the communicators and do the heavy lifting, but they’re happy to do it because they’re empowered to support a ministry they love, they can share the story of their favorite ministry with a friend, and they get the benefit of doing that ministry alongside a friend.
  • The youth leader is happy because the volunteers are excited, it’s likely going to be successful (seriously: one church did this and doubled their volunteers), and best of all—the youth leader didn’t have to do the recruiting themselves.
  • And you’re happy because it’s one less announcement to deal with, plus you’ve built trust by scoring a major win with a ministry.

Weekend Retreat for Fifth Graders

The children’s ministry leader wants to do a platform announcement about the weekend retreat for fifth graders entering middle school. So blast your entire church with a message geared for a dozen kids and their parents? Let’s not.

How about a targeted campaign that goes directly to those dozen families?

  • Take five minutes of the fifth grade Sunday School class to talk about the trip.
  • Send info to the parents (handout the kids bring home, mail, email, etc.) detailing the specifics of the trip.
  • Ask the leaders in the fifth grade Sunday School class to reach out to the parents by phone. They can divide up the class and you have an old school, phone tree approach that’s highly relational.
  • As the fifth grade kids leave Sunday School, slap stickers on their shirts with the basic info.

A campaign could include some or all of these efforts, as well as other ideas. And it’s likely to be much more effective than a broad announcement to the entire church.

Again, everybody wins:

  • The fifth grade leaders are empowered and get to form relationships with the families.
  • The children’s ministry leader gets the families engaged and excited about the weekend retreat.
  • The fifth graders actually hear about the trip and are excited themselves (we all know those kids aren’t listening to announcements during the church service).
  • And you’re happy because you’re not crafting an announcement for the entire church that’s actually meant for a handful of people. Plus, you’re building trust and scoring another win.

Women’s Bible Study

The women’s ministry wants an announcement about their new weekly Bible study. At best this announcement would only apply to half your congregation. Try something else.

  • Send an email to your current list targeted by gender.
  • Try the ‘bring a friend’ approach and ask women currently involved in the women’s ministry to invite a friend to the new Bible study. Create pre-printed invitations with the basic details and leave a space for them to add a handwritten note.
  • If you have some money to spend, you could look at gender-targeted Facebook ads, especially if the Bible study is an outreach or has a community-engagement piece that might bring in people from outside your church.
  • Talk to your pastor about mentioning the Bible study in their sermon. There could be a number of angles that make it relevant—studying the Bible, fellowship, getting involved in a new ministry, etc. Emphasize to your pastor that you don’t want an announcement—don’t focus on details like time and place. Instead emphasize why it’s important. So if your pastor is preaching about taking next steps, it’d be natural to say, “One of those steps might be joining a Bible study, like our new women’s Bible study that starts next week.” Think less product placement and more practical application.

OK, so that last one is cheating a bit because it’s still going to a mass audience. However, it’s relevant and helpful, and works as an example for the entire audience whether it applies to them or not.

You also might run into an issue where every ministry wants a “slot” in your pastor’s sermon. But that’s not a problem—preaching the announcements sounds like a great solution. The sermon should be tying biblical ideas to practical application, and what better practical application than things happening at your church? Just make sure your pastor doesn’t go overboard and turn each sermon into an infomercial.

And still, everyone wins:

  • Women are more likely to hear about the Bible study in an engaging way.
  • The women’s ministry team is inspired and empowered, plus they’re more likely to get a full house.
  • You’ve once again avoided an announcement that wouldn’t have appealed to more than half of your congregation. And you’re building trust with more effective methods.

Think Announcements Last

Instead of always jumping to a platform announcement, work with your ministry leaders to think of another approach that might be more effective.

Sometimes an announcement might be the way to go, but turn to it as a last resort.

These examples move communication away from a production department where you just crank out announcements, videos, websites, etc., and toward a communication ministry where you work with other ministries to help them connect to people. That relational approach is huge. As you work with other ministries you’re going to build trust and that’s going to help in a lot of areas.

This kind of approach could bring institutional change to how your church does things. Plus, it’s way more effective than yet another announcement.

More:

Platform announcements are hard. We can help. Our Courageous Storytellers membership site has tons of resources to help you improve your announcements. Whether you’re trying to refine your delivery or deciding what gets announced, we’ve got resources for you. Join today to get access.

(Thanks to Chuck Scoggins for some ideas that inspired this post.)

Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks


When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998 and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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One Response to “Announcements Should Be the Last Resort”

  • Mark in Racine, WI, US(A)
    October 24, 2018

    At my church, announcements were once going past 10 minutes in length total.

    People made their own announcement and an usher would flick the lights at the 30-second mark. NO ONE ever then promptly wrapped up their announcement. The lights-flick was meaningless.

    In the 10-minutes-era, sometimes announcements were made into a little skit. How clever.

    Something no one ever sincerely said when getting ready for church: “Gee, honey, I wonder what the announcements will be in church today?!”

    They are now after years of this congregation abuse finally taking action to rein things in and even posted to the church Facebook page a link to this article!



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