I’m gonna go ahead and put this out there… I hate announcements.

The very mention of the word brings back memories of being stuck in a pew, listening to someone read from a bulletin for 15 minutes about everything on the church calendar that week.

Growing up in the church, I can’t remember a time where I’ve heard someone say, “Wow, those announcements were powerful today.”

That presents a challenge for us as the church. We have life-changing opportunities for people to take advantage of, but they are often getting tuned out, ignored or forgotten during the typical announcement time.

Churches are making the dangerous assumption that if it’s important to us, it must be important to the audience. We assume if it’s announced from the stage, it’s remembered in the seats. Reality is, that’s just not the case.

It’s time to quit doing announcements and start doing next steps.

What’s the difference?
Announcements are information rich and inspiration poor.
Next steps offer a relevant, clear and compelling call to action for your audience to respond to.

So how can we handle sharing the important opportunities that we offer as the church?

3 Steps to Make Your Next Steps More Effective

Create standards for what is communicated during services

Your church is looking to you to help them decide what they need to know. But if treat everything as important, nothing will be important.

Communication standards may look different at every church, but it’s critical to have consistent framework for deciding what will get stage time and what will not. As a starting point for standards, I think each message needs to fit into at least one of these three categories:

  • Does it impact 80% of our audience?
  • Is it a direct next step from teaching that would add value to our audience?
  • Is it a key on-ramp to a ministry?

Using these standards will remove a lot of the noise that clutter out the most important next steps you offer as a church.

Making each next step clear and compelling

Just because it’s worthy of being announced, does not mean that the message is clear and compelling. Before something hits the stage, it’s important to answer these questions:

  • Why should people care?
    Don’t assume that if it’s important to you, it’s important to your audience. Speak to the needs of your audience and share what value this next step will offer. Speak to the problems this will solve and make sure to deliver on what you’re promising!
  • What am I asking people to do?
    Behind every next step should be a clear call to action. Do you want people to sign up? Give? Attend? Make it abundantly simple and clear what you’re asking the audience to do. Your job isn’t over until you’ve removed barriers that could get in the way of people doing what you’re asking them to do. Don’t send people on a rabbit trail to figure out how to take their next step.

It’s hardly a new concept, but a great place to start for anything you’re sharing from stage is to answer the who, why, what, when, where (in that order). Oh, and here’s the challenging part… Find a way to do that in about 30 seconds or less.

Get creative with your methods

Don’t get stuck in a rut for how you communicate your next steps. If you’re sharing your next steps in the same place, at the same time, in the same ways each week, your audience is likely already tuning them out.

Once you decide what you need to share from stage, creatively think through what method would be most effective for communicating that next step. Here are some methods you can add to your toolbox that aren’t the standard talking head on stage:

  • Video
    If you have more than a few next steps, or if you’re sharing something that people need to see to fully understand and connect with, announcement videos are a great solution!
  • Mention
    Can it be shared in 15 seconds or less? Is it something that connects to another moment already in the service? Make it a quick mention with a clear call to action. For example, if you’re wanting to communicate the opportunity to be baptized, then take advantage of the next time you’re doing a baptism in the service. Make a quick mention of sharing what baptism means, and sharing how someone can take their next step in baptism. It doesn’t have to take a minute of talking about something for it to be effective.
  • Share a story
    Do you have a compelling story of someone in your church that’s been impacted by a next step that you’re sharing about? Consider sharing a testimony video of their story and how that event/program changed their life. Hearing a personal story of life change that someone experienced through what you’re promoting will have a much greater effect than hearing someone rattle off their talking points at the end of the service.
  • Point people to a communication hub
    Do you have a few consistent next steps you want to communicate weekly ? Things like baptism, volunteering, small groups or membership? Point them to a consistent communication hub where they can take their next step in any of those areas. That may mean that you can point people to your connection card or information desk. By doing this consistently, you can build the foundation for people to know that they can go to you communication hub to take their next step.

Quit doing announcements, and help someone take their next step today.

  • Jacob

    So many churches are afraid to make the change. Or make any changes to anything for that matter. Blows my mind.

  • Jon Plotner

    Phil . . . I’ve often wrestled with churches about the “kill the announcements” philosophy. What I love about what you share here is that next steps are so important in determining what to share on a weekend and what NOT to share on a weekend. Thanks for bringing even more clarity to the discussion. Hope you and my friends at West Ridge are doing well.

    • Thanks, Jon. We’re doing great over here in GA. Hope you’re doing well!

  • Great suggestions! This is a great #10Xstrategy!

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  • Pastor Will

    This is the clearest treatment of this topic that I have seen. I will be sharing. A lot! Thanks!

  • Mark Sandland

    So let me put this out there. I actually *do* love announcements. I see the activities that go on in my Church as a sign that God is at work in my church. The notices tell me where people are being blessed and being a blessing, and as such they tell me thst the Holy Spirit is at work. So, rather than banish them, or apologising for them, why not proclaim them enthusiastically and celebrate their worth? (And as for 80% impact… wasn’t it Jesus who commended the shepherd who abandoned 99% and impacted just the one?). Viva la notices!

    • Hey Mark – perhaps I should clarify. I’m not suggesting that you do not share things from stage. What I’m suggesting is that if we don’t have standards behind what we share in services, our services can quickly become bogged down with a bunch of announcements that aren’t connecting with our audience. For my context, we’ve found that we want to create as much time as possible for the teaching and worship, and then share clear next steps about how people can continue to grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ.

      For some context, there are probably around 5-10 times a year where we do not have any announcements. The rest of the time, we are communicating key next steps (like Easter, Christmas, Sermon Series, Church-Wide Serving Opportunities, Small Groups). Also, we are communicating key on-ramp events/programs that help connect our audience to the ministries (like a student camp, kids camp, bi-annual women’s event, etc). Those on-ramp events rarely are communicating to 80% of the room, but are important to a big segment of our church and are strategic ministry events.

      For the things that are not communicated from stage, we have our website, app and Help Center on-site that share all opportunities across our church.

  • Jason Alexis

    Really good stuff

  • Jessica

    You just eloquently voiced everything I’ve struggled to communicate to my staff team. Thank you so much for this post, it’s going to revolutionize the way we think about and plan our announcements!

  • Such a great post Phil. I think mixing things up is a key to keeping the message fresh. People get bored with the same ‘ole same ‘ole.

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  • Announcements are not “worship” and our goal on Sunday morning is to have a worship service. Scripture reading, choir singing, congregational singing, giving, preaching the sermon and response to the sermon are all aspects of worship; making announcements is not.

    Having said that… I do not advocate getting rid of all announcements. My rules of thumb, not written down in stone or otherwise: 1) There is no need to announce regularly scheduled events that take place on a weekly basis. 2) If it’s written in the bulletin, projected on a big screen and on the website, there’s no need to say it, except perhaps to mention where the announcements can be found. 3) I like the 80% threshold mentioned above; time can and should be given to announcements of monumental importance. 4) Our announcement time is after worship has taken place and people are ready to leave anyway, immediately before the prayer to dismiss.

    • thatdigiguy

      yup… if you don’t have LCDs or projectors, you need them.
      if it happens more than 1x/month, it doesn’t need averbal announcement – only a bulletin on the screen.
      if it happens regularly, you need an email about it going out.

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  • Pilgrim

    Every church I pastored had this debate (except for one–a pre-technological rural church that still had some folks who couldn’t read–not a cheap fact, just a reality). I was always strongly advised: “It’s in the bulletin. Let ’em read it!” and “About the time you’re sick of saying it, someone is just hearing it for the first time!” Our congregations/audiences are different, and folks respond to different message delivery vehicles. Around these parts, car dealers and fast food places spend a lot of money on radio advertising…the equivalent of “announcements.”

  • Steven Murphy

    This is such a great post! I wish that more churches would take this approach. Too many of them seem to be bent on looking busy; just fill the calendar with “stuff for people to do” rather than having a clear and defined purpose that is worth committing to… a real vision worth casting and living by.

  • I remember you speaking on this passionately at the CFCC Comm Lab in Atlanta several years ago! It impacted me then and it was a perfect reminder that I must steward our church communication strategy here in South Africa with these standards in mind. It’s a completely different culture here so in some ways church announcements are a necessity due to technological challenges however I love the suggestion of focusing on next steps vs. an overwhelming list of information. Thank you continuing to share your passion and wisdom for church communication with the next generation.

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  • greglauer

    Glad I finally stumbled on this post. Could not agree more. I was part of a church where we moved announcements to the very first thing…a pastor walked to the front, announced the two most important things going on in the life of the church that week, directed everyone to the website and then prayed for the worship service as a whole. In less than 3 months, church participation in all our events nearly doubled and continued growing organically. And I am now part of a church where we are trying to get announcements to be less of a disruption to the worship service as a whole. I think it all comes back to the idea of right place and time for everything.

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