I’ve been going to church a long time.
That doesn’t make me any more spiritual than anyone else for sure. As a matter of fact, I’ve had to overcome some of my church experiences. But one aspect of my church experience has both entertained and frustrated me through the years – the ministry of announcements.
I worked with one guy that was so funny in the announcements, we were all convinced our church was growing because people came just to hear him talk. I’m not sure how helpful that was to the worship experience, at times. But, I ‘ve also worked with people that fell into the trap of announcing everything in a very boring and mundane way and exactly at the wrong time – and it would shut a worship service down.
I admit there are times when you have to say something from the pulpit because of its critical importance – even sometimes because the bylaws of the church require it to be announced that way. But, can we make announcements be part of the experience and not just something to be overcome?
How do we handle these blessed (tongue in cheek) moments in the flow of a worship experience? Here are a few thoughts that might be helpful:
- Make sure every announcement is absolutely necessary.
Seems obvious enough. Say only was has to be said and nothing more. But, often if you make any announcements, you’ll feel forced to make all announcements. A good rule of thumb is this: if it is not something that virtually every person in the room has to know, then don’t say it. Send a group email (or put it in the Sunday bulletin) instead of taking valuable worship time.
- Be sure the announcement is well placed in the service.
Don’t follow everyone singing “Worthy is the Lamb, seated on the throne,” with someone going to the pulpit and saying, “The Men’s softball team has practice today at 3:00 on the south field.” And Pastors, please don’t start your message with details about the Deacon’s Banquet. Begin with some kind of flow from the corporate worship time that goes into the message.
- Be sensitive to the flow of thought.
Don’t forget: the worship service is not a string of isolated ingredients put together in a random order. It is one thing – God’s people meeting corporately to worship Him and to explore His Word. Guard every minute and every word.
- Be open to alternative ways of communicating.
How about a pre-service video of announcements? Or monitors in the hallways that have a video loop with info? Maybe a church wide e-newsletter that shares vital information several times a week?
- Stay in character.
I’ve seen a few people through the years that had the gift of making informational announcements in such a spiritual tone that it didn’t seem to interrupt the worship experience. If making announcements is something that is so woven into the fabric of your church, then make sure the person doing them is in the flow of the service and stays that way. Work to make every announcement prayerful, purposeful, prepared, and necessary.
If you have always wanted to be “announcement free” but have never tried it, take heart – it can be done. If the Pastor would announce (see the irony there?) that the church is going to move away from informational announcements in the service, and then do it – the church will adapt. Be sure your alternative communication plan is in place and operating well.
But if announcements have to happen, plan them as a part of the larger experience of worship. Remember, this is not a gathering of a civic club or a parent/teacher organization. This is the Bride of Christ gathering to worship Him and love each other. Make every part of the experience part of that purpose.
Mike Harland is the Director of LifeWay Worship. When he’s not directing 30+ employees, you’ll find him leading worship at various churches around the country, writing/arranging worship songs and/or, writing his next book. In his spare time, he loves playing basketball and spending time with his family. Mike can be found on Twitter @MikeHarlandLW and on facebook.com/Mike.Harland.37.