8 ways to make your announcements actually matter – guest post by Jon Nicol
Several years ago, I worked under a senior pastor who told me early in my tenure, “Jon, here at [this church], the preaching of the Word of God is here,” he motioned with a flattened hand that was level with forehead. “And our announcements are here.” His hand moved down slightly to eye level.
Thinking he was joking, I started to laugh. He did not laugh with me. (I didn’t want to ask where worship through music landed. After serving there awhile, I surmised it was near his navel.)
For a lot of worship leaders, announcements are the bane of our existence. We work so hard to create momentum and atmosphere only to have a bake sale promotion clog the flow and kill the mood. Announcements are the Hoover Dam of worship.
We could discuss placement of announcements (as in, where they can do the least amount of damage), and that could be helpful. Or we could scheme to do away with announcements. That would fun, but fruitless for most of us.
But what if we actually made them better? What if they became an effective part of our worship gathering? Maybe not “just below” the preaching of the word of God, but still important and maybe even enjoyable. That’s just crazy talk, I know. But hang with me.
Let’s say your church is offering a 6-week stewardship class. Here are eight ideas to make that announcement (and all your announcements) connect better and matter more.
1. Benefits, not features.
Which one appeals to you more, A or B?
A. “This six-week class, you’ll be taught the key scriptures on finances, how to budget and manage your money effectively using a cash-based envelope system.”
B. In just under two months, you’ll know what God teaches us about money. And you’ll have the skills to spend less, save more, and have peace when it comes to your money.
For most of us, B. Why? The first was a list of the class features. The second told me how I will benefit if I participate.
2. Emotional connection, not informational transaction.
Imagine two announcement scenarios:
A. The pastor talks about the length of the class, the cost, the duration of each session, and the deadline for the registration.
B. A church members says, “Three years ago, my wife and I were considering divorce. While we had a lot of other issues, money seemed like it was at the center of almost every fight. We enrolled in this class, and, while it hasn’t been easy, God has used it not only to get control over our financial situation, but bring new life to our marriage.”
No contest. The emotional connection wins.
3. Use images.
Images matter, but look for the ones that will help make that emotional connection. Which will elicit more response: the picture of the class workbook or a picture of a pile of overdue bills and credit card statements on a kitchen table?
Talk about emotional connection: there are stomachs knotting in your congregation the moment that second picture goes up.
4. Minimal effective details.
What’s the least you can share with the most impact? Too many ministry leaders equate more with better when it comes to announcing their event. But the content-dump approach backfires. People don’t connect. Or worse, they check out. It’s better to make one emotional connection, provide only the most necessary details, and then do number 5.
5. Call to action.
What is the next step that people need to take, and how do they take that next step?
For example, let’s take the emotional connection of the guy talking about his marriage in #2 and have him follow it up with this: “This class is starting in February (minimal detail). To find out more about it (next step), stop by the Welcome Center or go to our website (call to action).
6. Script it (in Twitter).
Most people think they can speak succinctly on-the-fly. They can’t. So begin using a script. To keep each announcement brief, write it in Twitter (without hitting “Tweet”). While you may end up using more than 140 characters for each announcement, it’ll help you think through what’s most important and effective.
Practice? Announcements?! Musicians practice the songs. The drama team rehearses their sketch. Pastors run through their sermons. Why not people who make the announcements? Good communication doesn’t happen on accident.
You have at least three generations of screen-watchers in your church. Put your announcements on video, especially if you have a lot of them. You can quickly present things in video that would sound curt to say them live. Plus, you don’t have to worry about your announcement person going off-script.
These videos don’t have to be fancy. They can be as simple as a recorded voice over slides that you created in PowerPoint or Keynote. Simply save each slide as a jpeg and drop them into iMovie or other basic editing program. If you’re just learning how to make videos, here’s an article that can help you avoid some pitfalls (like using the “fly off” transition).
These eight ways to make announcements connect better may not completely dissolve all the animosity we worship leaders feel towards announcements, but they’ll help.
Jon Nicol is a worship pastor in Lexington, OH where he lives with his wife, Shannon, and their four kids.