Please stand by for an important announcement:
No one is listening to you!
That’s how it feels when you give the announcements at my church. It’s just you, the podium, and 400 blank expressions. I don’t know what it is, but no one listens to announcements, even when the person doing them is humorous and upbeat.
Sometimes there’s nothing you can do to catch a congregation’s attention, but we can still try, right?
It is hard, though, and I won’t deny that announcements are boring by nature and have been a thorn in the service order since the beginning. (I’m sure that even the apostle Paul had trouble with them.) But when you’re announcements drag on ad infinitum, you’re speaker tells bad jokes ad noseum, you might need to reevaluate what you’re doing . My church has had to do this.
Years ago, my church had what we called “opening exercises,” a half-hour time of announcements, prayer requests, and a funny anecdote or parable delivered to us from the e-mail inbox of one of our deacons. We did this every Sunday morning for years, and year, and years.
Eventually, we realized that opening exercises was stilted and slow. It was bogged down in the traditions of five decades of conservative protestant worship and couldn’t be saved. So, we dumped it and moved prayer and announcements in their own spot in the main worship service.
Fast forward twelve years…
Announcements are still boring!
What is a pastor to do?
The way I see it, there are four basic options:
1. The Kodak Move
Kodak announced they will not longer manufacture cameras. Kodak isn’t going to make cameras? If they can move on, so can we. Announcements may not benefit your congregation, especially if your people frequently make use of your church’s website, Facebook page, Twitter account, etc. to keep up-to-date on church activities and information. If your congregation is a bit more traditional (i.e. older and/or technologically disinclined), you might need to trudge on through with a modified form of announcements.
2. A Picture’s Worth
One of the best moves that our church ever made was to create group-specific, event-specific images to project onto our screen during announcements. They offer the same information that the speaker is delivering, so if one begins to tune out the speaker, the graphics might still catch your eye.
3. Video Killed the Announcement Star
Many churches have made the switch to video announcements. What’s nice about using video is that its controlled, timed, and completely self-contained—very few external variables to cause you problems. Beyond all of that, if you’re capable of pulling off weekly announcements, you are also probably well-placed to upload those videos to your website so that your congregation can refer back to them.
4. Go Crazy
Sometimes, you won’t know what to do until you just do it. Experiment. Do something different. My church is toying with the idea of a “Two-Minute Window,” a game show-esque segment that will feature a different person (sometimes live, sometimes via video) trying to get through a list of announcements within two minutes time. We’re even thinking of spicing the segment up with campy, 70’s music and a counter. Will it work? Who knows, but at least it’s something different.
How does your church handle announcements?
What role (if any) does technology play?
Are weekly announcements even worth saving?
[Image via Josh Hunter]