Ask many church leaders and they’ll tell you, announcements sometimes feel like a necessary evil – most don’t want to do them but know they have to. For many church leaders, announcements are the “Achilles heal” of their worship services. But perhaps they don’t have to be. In the first post of this series we discovered Five Ways to Make Announcements a Powerful Part of Your Worship Service.
Now, let's talk about how, with some simple changes, announcements can be strategically used to cast the vision and reinforce the core values of your church in powerful ways.
Not long ago I helped a church launch their foster care and adoption ministry – this story has nothing to do with that other than to say I was at the church that Sunday and learned a lot about announcements. It was around Christmas time and the women’s ministry was planning a cookie decorating party. The pastor got on stage and began making the announcement about the party, instructing ladies to purchase their tickets in the lobby, when suddenly, from the back of the sanctuary, someone yells, “It’s sold out!”. The pastor, quick on his feet, makes a joke about ladies missing out and having to wait until next Christmas to decorate cookies when suddenly, from the side of the sanctuary, someone else yells, “Suzy has tickets!”.
At this point I get the distinct feeling like the wheels on this bus are about to fall off. The pastor, again makes a quick joke letting everyone know they can scalp some tickets from Suzy in the lobby after service that day…when suddenly, from the opposite side of the sanctuary, it happens again – someone else yells, “Suzy’s not here today!”. That’s it, we’ve lost control of this thing. The train has officially left the track. The pastor kindly tells everyone they will figure out if there’s more tickets available and include an announcement about it in the weekly email newsletter. He then dismisses us.
That’s how the service ended. There’s so much to say about that, but the one thing I was left wondering was, Why? Not why was the announcement so bad, but why were the women getting together to decorate Christmas cookies? I’m not against women decorating Christmas cookies, I simply want to know why they are?
Start With Why
Simon Sinek, best-selling author of Start with Why, says, “People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe."
That's the key: Why are you doing what you're doing? What do you believe? The announcement answered (kind of) two questions for me: 1) What is the event? and 2) How do we participate in it? Those are two very important questions to answer, but the most important question went unanswered – in fact, its answer was assumed on the audience but never actually given. The question I needed answered was: Why are you doing this event? Why are the women getting together to decorate Christmas cookies? The assumed answers could be a) because it’s Christmas time or b) because women like to decorate cookies or c) because we needed to fill the calendar with something and that was our best option. We could go on. Again, the “what” and the “how” were clear (kind of), but the “why” was completely absent. I was told a little about what the church is doing and how they are doing it, but I was not told anything about why they are doing it.
When we talk about giving vision-driven announcements what we are suggesting is that it’s not enough to simply answer the “what” and “how”, but we must also communicate the “why”. The “what” and “how” answer functional questions about the church; the “why” answers inspirational questions about it. That’s vision.
In the most simplistic terms, here’s how the announcement sounded:
Announcement A: “There’s a women’s cookie decorating event (WHAT) next week. Get tickets from Suzy (HOW).”
Here’s how it would sound if it was driven by vision:
Announcement B: “At _________ __________ Church, we value women living in authentic, biblical community with one another (WHY) so next week some women are hosting a cookie decorating party to spend time together (WHAT) and if you want to get tickets you can contact Suzy (HOW).”
Announcement A told me what the church is doing and how they are doing it (functional). Announcement B told me what the church believes and values and why they are doing what they’re doing (inspirational). With a slight change, these become two completely different announcements that communicate two completely different messages.
As you develop your process and strategy for announcements, ensure you are using them as opportunities to cast vision on your church and reinforce the “why” of what you are doing and how you are doing it.
Let's use an informational luncheon about getting involved in an orphan care ministry as an example. Here’s two different ways to announce it:
1) “There’s a luncheon in three weeks for anyone who is interested in foster care or adoption. You can sign up online.”
2) “At __________ _________ Church we care deeply about the orphaned and vulnerable and want to reflect God’s heart in how we care for them. If you have ever considered your role in foster care, adoption or other forms of support we invite you to attend this luncheon in three week. You can sign up online.”
Both of these announcements tell me “what” and “how”, but only one tells me “why”.
In the end, with some simple language change announcements can become powerful communicators of vision for your church. Saturate your messaging with vision to continually declare and reinforce the “why” of your church and invite people into the "what" and the "how" more strategically and effectively.