The number of people who sit in a church service doesn’t mean a whole lot if you didn’t do something in them and through them to Christ’s glory. Church leaders learn before long that attendance is only meaningful if you can drive engagement.
For this reason, many churches have a laundry list of announcements given in church, often at the beginning of a service. This is meant to give people the information needed, and get them moving on the things that matter in Church life.
The problem is that doing announcements doesn’t work.
The bullet list of announcements is invariably too long, it’s at the most skipped time of the service, the least skilled communicators often end up delivering the information, it is redundant to other sources of information, and it is not prioritized into what matters most. This is why most announcements slots fail to do their job.
To engage people in the church you can harness the “announcements” by figuring out how they are not really “announcements” at all but instead they are this: the mission critical action step you want to convince the Body of Christ to engage in right now.
If this doesn’t apply to what you’re doing announcement about then why are you saying them in the first place? It takes focus and determination to look at it this way–and it takes courage to say no to other things, but it is worth it for the kingdom results gained.
To help along in this aim I’ll now share an adapted version of the Church “from announcements to engagement” formula I used when I was an Executive Pastor:
Here’s the formula if it helps you remember this:
(I x 4) + AC = E
The letter “I” times 4 is how I remember Importance, Introduction, Inspiration, and Information, plus Action and Celebration, all equals engagement.
Decide the #1 thing this week or month, and communicate no more than this. This sounds ruthless, but I’m telling you that you must drill into your mind that the weekend service is important enough and the mission is important enough that if you can’t narrow it down to one thing per week then you’re not really doing your job. Any church member could get up and give a long list of announcements. But church leaders lead, and this is what leadership looks like. Make the call. Everything else should be in print, online, on an app, or achieved with signage. Once you are able to do this it changes the way you (and everyone in the church) sees “announcements” forever. You might begin to do the “announcements” right in at the end of the sermon, or between two songs, or right before the sermon. The lead pastor might want to be one communicating these things anyway. If they are as important as they are, then you position them as critical, not incidental. If what you’re saying is incidental, then why waste your time and theirs?
This is the big one, so I talked more about this. If you do this, the other ones are possible and even pretty simple. If you don’t do this first one, the other ones don’t matter. So click away now if this level of focus doesn’t seem possible for you.
Gain attention through humor, video, or relevance to current events in culture. If done within or after a sermon, then it should also connect as the vital application of the sermon itself. You may already be creative with your announcements–but you’ll get a better bang for your creativity buck if you’ve already decided to communicate what’s important only.
Communicate the heart-level reason why this is not only relevant to their spiritual life but also the mission/vision of the church. This has the added benefit of reinforcing the vision every week if you’re someone who struggles to “work that in” somehow. The most effective visionary Pastors in churches of all sizes not only “preach the announcements” but go a step further, they begin to see that their sermon is just one of the tools God is using to mobilize the body of Christ for mission activity, so then inspiration becomes natural in these ways.
Get the core information into their hands, and reinforce it visually on the screen and point to where they can get their further questions answered. Less is more here. Once the hook is set they will follow up to get more information. Just get them started–this is not an FAQ session.
Tell them the ONE THING you want them to do now about this one most important thing you took time out of the service to tell them. Remove the words like “or”, “and”, “also” from your church engagement communication. Get it down to the one thing you want them to do. The point of this is not to communicate options (that comes latter in follow up) but to get to their one action step they don’t even need to write down becuase it is memorable and portable. A four-year old should be able to tell you the one thing the church wanted everyone to do this week.
If it was important enough to tell them do on this Sunday, it is important enough to celebrate next Sunday. Did you ask everyone to invite one person to an event on Friday? Next Sunday you should celebrate how many did that. Did you ask everyone to sign up for a small group online? That number is a great one. Did you ask them to come forward and respond to a call to Baptism? If that’s not something you want to celebrate then check your pulse, my friend. When you celebrate engagement the church is compelled to engage all the more and the people start to take your mission-driven communication (what you used to call “the announcements”) seriously. If you celebrate well, it will only take 6 weeks or less to change the culture in your church. It add fuel to your communication fire.
If you want to move past mere attendance, and you really want engagement, then I’d suggest you stop doing announcements and start inspiring people toward what is most important to the mission.