Incorporating a three- to four-minute "ministry moment" during the weekly worship service can highlight and celebrate new, ongoing or developing ministries, informing those who attend and inspiring them to become involved.
However, when it comes to making announcements and providing information on ministries during worship, some congregations tend to go to one of two extremes.
Either it is the best news "you've never heard …"
At one extreme are those churches who rarely share any news about the ministries of the church — local, regional or global — during worship. A person who only attends worship likely will have no idea of the exciting things that happen in the life of the congregation, the community and the world because ministries are rarely, if ever, mentioned. People might never know, for example, of the children's ministry into which the congregation has put so much effort, about the annual conference camp ministry, or The United Methodist Church's areas of ministry focus. Yet, this information might be exactly what God can use to inspire a person to become involved in the mission of the church.
Or … "I've heard enough!"
On the other extreme are those congregations where an exhaustive list of announcements and reminders clutters each worship service, often at the beginning. One pastor, starting a new appointment, was shocked to discover that mundane and often repetitive announcements took 15 to 20 minutes of the time set for congregational worship! Some attending might be intrigued at hearing about the diverse activity in the church. They are more likely to wonder why the time they allotted to join in worship was used each week to remind people to "bring extra griddles to the pancake breakfast" that will be held next Christmas!
Create a "ministry moment" that is just right!
To avoid these two extremes, plan a weekly "ministry moment" that becomes a time of celebration and giving. A "ministry moment" highlights an ongoing or new effort. Designed to inform the congregation about ways the church seeks to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, these brief presentations also inspire more people to get involved. Placed before the collection of the weekly offering, these moments help congregants understand how God's tithes and their offerings make a difference in tangible ways. They also allow people to consider what they can give besides, or in addition to, money. The presentations can reinforce the sermon and reduce distracting announcements.
Plan a "ministry moment"
1. Take an editorial calendar to the next gathering of ministry leaders. Include Sunday dates for the next six to 12 months, along with preaching themes, if possible. This allows leaders to think how their ministries provide ways for people to act on the messages. (Someone could reinforce a sermon on "caring for children and orphans" with a "ministry moment" on United Methodist children's homes, for example.) The United Methodist program calendar may prove helpful. Another resource is mission moments on www.umcgiving.org.
2. Strategically place certain ministries on specific Sundays for maximum impact. Easter Sunday will likely be a high-attendance day with first-time guests, so highlight the ministry that will engage the most people. The Sunday before school begins may be the perfect time to focus on youth or children's ministry. Mother's Day and Father's Day are good opportunities to highlight women's and men's ministries, respectively.
3. Ask ministry leaders to work with others in their ministry area to write a brief (three- to four-minute) script where they:
- Tell the congregation what the ministry is. (1 minute)
- Describe how the ministry affects lives and fits within the overall mission of the church. Tell a brief, inspirational story. (1 minute)
- Give information on how people can become involved through their prayers and their participation. (30 seconds)
- Thank the congregation for their financial support through giving God's tithes and their offerings to make the ministry a reality. (30 seconds)
4. Select ministry leaders or participants to present the ministry moment. Coach them to become comfortable with the script and to stay within the time allotted. If you use video projection, show pictures or play videos of the ministry in the background. If you do not use video projection, consider giving more information in the bulletin or, if space allows, placing a logo or a picture there.
5. Celebrate what God is doing! As the "ministry moment" concludes, ask the liturgist or worship leader to invite ushers to come forward with a smile on their face! Pray for the ministry as well as the offering, asking God to bless the ministry and the church's mission together.
-- The Rev. Wes Olds leads the pastoral team at Grace United Methodist Church, Cape Coral, Fla.