It's true that most people don't attend church for the announcements. However, announcements are needed to communicate what is happening in the life of the congregation. Here are four ways you can improve the announcements in your church and capture the attention of your audience.
Too often announcements are an afterthought. Pieces of information are jotted down and handed off to be read during verbal announcements or printed in the Sunday bulletin. Little time or effort is given to what is being said or written. But preparation is key to making announcements both meaningful and memorable.
1) You need to be convincing; write compelling announcements. State the "who, what, when, and where" first. But just as importantly, include the "why." The events in your church have a purpose; make those purposes known. The bake sale that is taking place in the foyer is helping raise money to send teenagers to youth camp. The senior luncheon this coming Saturday helps older adults in your church stay connected. The announcements should reflect the ways in which your church is living out its mission. In addition, never forget the call-to-action. Give? Sign up? Buy? Write? Listen? Check-in? Make it clear what you want your audience to do and how they can do it.
2) Curb late-comers. If you have trouble with last minute information being thrust into your hands, you may want to consider implementing a mandatory online form or even a fill-in-the-blank template that must be completed. By streamlining the format, you can cut back on excessive information while making sure that everything relevant is available.
3) Be choosy, and while you're at it, give your bulletin a facelift. Not every event needs to be announced from the pulpit. Not every detail needs to be included in your bulletin. Don't overload your audience. Verbal announcements should be for those things that pertain to the church at large. Announcements in bulletins should be kept brief and to the point. Pro Church Tools advises that churches keep their verbal announcements to just three categories: the contact card (the avenue by which newcomers can give their contact information), the welcoming of visitors, and the "big things" (the most important events you feel need to be announced). While every church will be different, the important thing is to limit your announcements. Too much information is simply too much.
Announcements don't have to be boring. If you want to make sure that your audience takes note, think creatively. Try one of these fun presentation methods.
Create a homespun commercial
Video announcements are always a great way to get your point across. Chances are you probably have some theater geeks in your church. Recruit them, along with your media experts, to shoot video commercials. If you feel totally unqualified, consider church video announcement services such as Pro-Nounce or Pro Video Announcements. These companies (which usually charge a monthly fee) create custom video announcements for your church based on the information you supply. Other services such as the skit guys sell packages of videos to help churches with generic announcements such as asking for volunteers or telling the congregation to turn off cell phones.
Enlist a "hype" man or woman
One of the easiest ways to spice up your announcements is to find the right kind of person to do the announcing. Ask an enthusiastic volunteer to be your church "hype" man or woman. One of the ways to make announcements awesome is to find someone fun and energetic.Just like a cheerleader at a pep rally, the goal of a hype person is to get the audience's attention and motivate them to get excited about the information being presented.
Include the children
Children have a way of capturing everyone's attention. Enlist your children to help make the announcements. Parents and grandparents, especially, pay close attention when their loved ones are on stage. Older children may be able to read a few announcements. Younger children can hold up signs with important information.
Act it out
Create and act out short, comical scripts to announce special plans such as Vacation Bible School or the Thanksgiving meal. Some curricula include such skits, but if not, recruit volunteers to create songs, raps, rhymes, or ditties that incorporate the information. If you can't find a volunteer who enjoys writing, online sites sometimes offer free Christian skits that may be adapted to your needs.
Use social media
You increase the likelihood of your announcements being remembered when you repeat them in various locations. In addition to verbal announcements and bulletin announcements, include the information in your monthly newsletter and use social media opportunities to help get the word out. Include announcements on your church website and reminders on your church Facebook page. For important events or last-minute changes or reminders, consider tweeting announcements or sending mass emails or texts. You can even use Instagram to promote church events.
Announcements are an important part of your church worship service, but they shouldn't take away from the most important aspects of worship. Where the announcements are placed in the order of Sunday worship is, therefore, important. Traditionally, most churches either give announcements near the beginning of their service or at the end. Both placements have advantages and disadvantages.
Beginning the church service with announcements may get the audience's attention before the actual worship service begins; however, the congregation may forget the details of the announcements by the time they leave church. End-of-service announcements, however, are often fresh on the listeners' minds as they file out of the pews. But they can also serve as a distraction from the worshipful atmosphere that was just created from the message.
Most importantly, consider carefully the needs of your congregation and the atmosphere of your church service when deciding your order of worship, and plan transitions to avoid awkward or distracting moments.
Last, but certainly not least, is prayer. Announcements, just like every other part of your worship service, should be covered in prayer. Spend time praying for the events and activities and other information that will be announced during your service. Pray for the person (or persons) who will be giving the announcements. Pray that the congregation hears and remembers the information, and, most of all, pray that God is glorified through every aspect of the worship service, even in the announcements.