Announcements…The very mention of the word brings back memories of being stuck in a pew, listening to someone recite from a bulletin for 15 minutes about EVERYTHING on the church calendar for the week.
Growing up in the church, I can't remember a single time where I've heard someone say, "Wow, those announcements were powerful today."
As the church, this presents a challenge for us.
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 as church leaders, 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
1.) Creating Standards for What is Communicated During Services
Your church is looking to you to help them decide what they need to know. But if we treat everything as important, then nothing will be important.
Communication standards may look different at every church, regardless, it's critical to have a 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:
A.) Does it impact 80 percent of our audience?
B.) Is it a direct next step from teaching that would add value to our audience?
C.) Is it a key on-ramp to a ministry?
Using these standards will remove a lot of the noise that clutter out the key next steps you offer as a church.
2.) 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:
A.) Why should people care?
B.) 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!
C.) 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.
3.) 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:
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!
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.
C.) 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.
D.) 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.
Phil Bowdle is creative arts pastor at West Ridge Church in Atlanta, Georgia and is passionate about creating high-impact experiences that lead people to Jesus Christ. Learn more about Phil at www.philbowdle.com.