"We are the hands and feet of Jesus; the bearers of Good News; and vessels filled with the Holy Spirit. With all that in mind, it's pretty much impossible to make a drab or needy announcement."
And Now for a Few Announcements...
Just about every church I know of has announcements, either printed in the bulletin, or spoken during the worship service. These days, many announcements also appear in online newsletters, emails, and Facebook. A well-crafted and clearly stated announcement invites people into the work of God; while a poorly-crafted announcement can be confusing or off-putting. Here are seven guidelines and tips for making great announcements, either written or spoken.
1. Take Your Time
Take time to craft your announcement. For a written notice, write it, take a break and then re-read it for tone and clarity. Or show it to another person and ask, "Does this say what I want it to say?" or "If you read this announcement, would you know what it was about and how you could be involved?"
2. Avoid "Needy" Language
It's amazing how many announcements contain the word "need." It's quick and easy: "We need five volunteers for X," or "We need supplies for Y." So what's the problem? The problem is that the word need is a real downer. It's about filling a slot, checking a box, or getting a warm body in a certain place and time.
When we make announcements with the word need, we're essentially saying, "We don't care who does this, the program is the important part, and we just want you to help us pull it off." To be fair, sometimes large events really do need people to fill slots in order to pull them off. But even with these announcements, let's drop the need language. Focus instead on the people we are inviting into ministry.
3. Use Invitation Language Instead
You can create an entirely different tone by shifting from need to invitation. Consider the following examples:
Each month, a group of volunteers from our church provides dinner at Hope Shelter. This is your chance to serve and give back! To claim your opportunity, contact...
The school supplies drive is on! You can support our local students by bringing in new supplies to the church office. For more information, contact...
Ready to go deeper into Scripture? A new Bible Study begins next Wednesday evening. You are invited. The class will meet at.... Contact....
4. Make it Personal
Many announcements end with "All are welcome." (Believe me, I've written my fair share of these announcements.) On closer inspection, this nice-sounding sentence is ultimately un-enticing, and totally uninformative. We can do better!
If you want to be friendly and personal, say "Please join us," or "You're invited." If you want to emphasize that an event is open, say "We invite you to attend and bring guests or friends." If you want to be intentional about inviting all types of people, say something like, "We welcome children, youth, and adults to this event," or "Whether you are brand new to this church or have been attending for years, we warmly welcome you to attend."
5. Give Helpful Contact Info
The sample announcements above obviously don't include contact information, but your announcements will. Make sure this contact information is friendly, detailed, and offers at least two options. Here's what not to do:
The Outreach Group meets at 10 a.m. every Wednesday. For more information, contact Pat Baker.
There are many things wrong with this hypothetical announcement, but let's focus on the contact portion. How is anyone supposed to know who Pat Baker is, or how to contact this person? By giving such vague contact information, we create an "insider" atmosphere, which is very discouraging for newer, or less involved members. Much better would be the following:
For more information, contact Pat Baker, our outreach chairperson at 703-555-1234; or Pat.Baker@email.com. Or call the church office.
Announcements about ministry should make us feel excited and hopeful – after all, this is the work of God! Consider giving good news as part of the announcement, or celebrate accomplishments and success stories. (Just be sure to keep it short.) For example:
The annual spring clean-up is coming up. Last year over 50 people came out and did over 300 hours of labor, making our church grounds beautiful! This year, we hope everyone can join in this fun and gratifying day. Mark your calendars for... For more information, contact...
7. Spoken Announcement Tips
All of the above rules apply to spoken announcements as well – although you probably wouldn't give your phone number in a spoken announcement. Of course, all churches have different customs and guidelines around spoken announcements, and it can often be a touchy subject...
The best general advice is to write out your announcement on paper, even if you don't end up looking at the paper while you speak. Writing out the announcement will help you stay on message, keep it short, and include all the necessary information. Be upbeat. Be excited about inviting other people to make a difference. Remember that we are the hands and feet of Jesus; the bearers of Good News; and vessels filled with the Holy Spirit. With all that in mind, it's pretty much impossible to make a drab or needy announcement – you're going to do great!
Matthew Kozlowski manages, edits, and writes for Building Faith. He lives in Alexandria, Virginia with his wife Danielle and two young daughters. Throughout his career he has been a teacher, camp counselor, school chaplain, camp chaplain, Sunday school teacher, parish priest, and Alpha course coordinator.
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