February 8, 2012

Making Announcements that Work

Getting the word out about an upcoming health fair, women’s gathering, or youth trip is important. And sometimes, these announcements need more than a blurb in the Sunday morning bulletin.

Nearly every church does announcements in some way – and most of the time, they’re done badly. Over the past 15 years, I’ve seen lots of variety: 

  • Read-it-straight-from-the-bulletin approach, which makes me feel like the presenter believes I cannot, in fact, read on my own.
  • Stand up from the pew and shout out the information approach. Invariably someone on the other side mutters that they can’t hear and the whole announcement is repeated two or three times.
  • Vestry person of the week. This one has promise – if the vestry person is comfortable with public speaking and if they have a good sense of the announcements before they rise to speak. Otherwise, it’s worse than the other options – a signal that even the leaders are clueless about the organization’s events.
  • The priest. Again, this one is OK. But having lay people make announcements sure would be a nice reflection of our belief that all people are ministers – not just the ordained.

Our new church has a good system, I think, for announcements. I’m not bragging because we didn’t create it, just inherited it. 

As the congregation exchanges the peace, leaders of different ministries line up next to the microphone. When the peace concludes, the first person begins. It’s clear that someone at some point coached folks on how to make effective announcements: the messages are warm and welcoming, encouraging and challenging without begging and pleading and succinct but complete. It’s not a complete recitation of the bulletin either. Some announcements, like the regular children’s programs and choir rehearsals, don’t need weekly reminders from the pulpit; a note in the worship bulletin suffices. Others, like an upcoming turn at hosting homeless families or gathering donations for the solider of the month, need verbal highlighting. 

Since they are at the microphone, everyone can hear. And since the expectation is to speak in front of the crowd, most announcers have thought about what they’re going to say, rather than a spontaneous, possibly incoherent eruption that may not have all the details. 

I’m interested in other experiences as well. What does your church do for announcements? What works? What doesn’t?