7 Reasons Announcements Are Killing Your Vibe

As communicators in the church world do you ever think about more than just your sermon? Do you ever think about what the entire service communicates? 

I do all the time and that’s why, years ago, I killed announcement time in a dying church.

As we turned a dying church around into what is now a very quickly growing and healthy church we made all kinds of hard decisions that would upset a lot of people.  What was surprising to me was that killing announcement time was the one decision people complained about the most. They complained about it for years. Looking back it was a great decision for a number of reasons, but the most important reason was announcements were killing our church.  Ok, that’s not true.  Maybe announcements can’t kill a church but they can kill your vibe and limit your reach to new people.  

Here are 7 reasons why announcement time could be killing your vibe and pushing newcomers away. 

  1. People are conditioned to check out during commercials. What do you do when you see a commercial.  I pull out my phone and check social media.  My guess is that most people do.  We are conditioned to disengage when commercials start rolling.   Whether you want to admit it or not your announcements are commercials and if you look closely you will be able to see the soft bluish white glow of phones reflecting off of peoples faces during announcement time.
  2. Your announcements are filled with insider language.  I visited a church that I love.  Amazing people who love God and who desperately want to reach the unchurched people of their community.  We sang a song and then there was literally a 5 minute long series of awkward announcements.  I didn’t understand the insider lingo or jokes and I am a Pastor. I was frustrated but a newcomer would have just checked out.  
  3. You can’t always control the message.  Sit down with some old school pastors sometime and ask them to tell you funny stories about church.  One thing you will notice is the funny stuff happens when announcement time (or special music time - another thing to kill) goes off the deep end.  Someone goes rogue and asks the church to pray for their husband offering way too much information.  The head of the baking club promised it would only take a minute to remind everyone of their upcoming event and 5 minutes later they are knee deep in a lecture about how no one is buying their pies anymore.  Announcement time is a breading ground for weird stuff.
  4. It is a crutch for your leaders.   There are lots of ways to communicate your event or announcement.  In fact, if the goal is to get a measurable response to the information you are putting out there, announcement time is probably one of the least effective ways to communicate.  Try a personal conversation or card or email.  Try using video or social media or a church app.  Try something. Try anything.  Build a system. Your leaders love announcement time because it is easy and it gives the illusion of actually communicating to a large group of people, but it is just an illusion and it isn't accomplishing what you hope it is accomplishing.
  5. It makes you look like you are selling stuff.  People are hypersensitive to being sold anything.  The more we stand in front of them and push announcements and programs and “opportunities” the more they start to feel like we are just trying to sell them our programs and “opportunities.”  At best it becomes white noise.  At worst they leave because of the following point...
  6. It can easily make you look look like a needy church.  Have you ever had someone ask you or tell you the same thing over and over again?  You eventually get sick of it.  If they keep it up you are going to check out of the relationship, because they are just too needy. Announcements can make your church look needy, especially if you are pushing the same ask over and over again.  Instead of asking for volunteers every week upfront, pick some people out to personally be a part of what you need help with.  Or better yet, evaluate whether it is something you really should be doing in the first place.
  7. It doesn’t have an immediate next step.  We live in a world where we have to provide people with a simple, actionable next step. It is just the world we live in.  Learn from people who pay to study culture and people so they can build marketing strategies to sell those people stuff.  Apply those lessons for the benefit of the people you are trying to reach.  I’ll save you some time…provide them with a simple, actionable, next step every time.  Make that next step one they can take immediately. A button on an app or mobile device works extremely well.

Since killing announcements we have found effective ways to communicate important information with everyone.  This once dying church is rapidly growing and has a communication system that can successfully add a second Good Friday Service at 11AM the day of, fill it up and pull it off as if it had been planned all year.   When our people go on vacation and visit other churches they always come back and thank me for not doing announcements.  Crazy, right? Don’t let announcements kill your vibe.

As you think about what you communicate spend some time thinking about what the whole service communicates.

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How do you feel about announcements?  (Let me know in the comments.)

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