In many churches, the Sunday order of service (liturgy) is focused and effective, with each element making sense and building on the others. Until it’s time to tack on the announcements. And then, it’s as if the ship has run aground and the train has slipped the tracks.
What churches can unintentionally communicate is that “We’ve had a clearly defined and highly participatory worship service, but now we’re going to step out of the liturgy for a second and take care of some business, and then step back into the liturgy for the benediction.” Unfortunately, since people come to worship rather than engage in business, announcement time becomes the time to think about what to have for lunch or to make a quick trip to the restroom.
But what if service planners approached the announcements with liturgical care? “Liturgy” literally means “the work of the people.” Rightly understood, the announcements are all about the work of the people. It’s not “Here’s some cool stuff to do,” it’s “here’s some stuff that will help you grow in Christ or provide opportunities for you to work for the kingdom.” The “why” behind the “do” needs to be very clear here, just as in other aspects of Sunday worship like singing praises, leaving an offering and listening to the sermon.
Here are a few announcement guidelines we’ve crafted at Sojourn:
1. We allow no more than three or four announcements each week — the most important things that the gathered community needs to hear that week. These are quick announcements that, in themselves, don’t take long to talk about.
2. The reader explains, very briefly, the “why behind the do” in the same manner in which elements like the Call to Worship and Lord’s Supper are explained. While we don’t want to make people feel guilty if they don’t go to every service project, concert or community event, we do want to continuously remind them that we aren’t just promoting “happenings” — that, for instance, we’re hosting music shows to celebrate the creativity that comes from the fact that we’re created in the image of God (so, we are creative because He is the Creator). Also, it’s a chance for us to love on the artists and the music lovers in our city.
3. We send the liturgist the announcements at the same time that they have the Scripture readings and other notes – no last minute, “Oh, can you say a little something about the potluck dinner Wednesday night?”. The potluck dinner is important – it’s family bonding time. It’s breaking bread and loving each other. So, we should show some forethought in how we announce it.
We script out the announcements, although our experienced readers have the freedom to adlib the particulars. Scripting the announcements enables us to think clearly about what we want to communicate.
There are no unimportant parts in a Christian worship service. If you remember this truth and plan announcements accordingly, you just may find that more of your members take an interest in your upcoming events, programs and ministry changes.