If you’re a pastor then you know the tension I am about to describe in a made-up scenario.
Pastor, can you announce the next meeting of the “Faithful Followers” meeting? It’s Tuesday night at 7 at Sister Rita’s house. Everyone needs to bring their favorite dessert.”
Do you announce it or not?
It may depend on several things. The size of your church. The expected size of the event. Frankly, how much pressure you will face if you don’t.
But, it’s often not an easy answer.
While I hope you never cave into pressure to do what you know you shouldn’t — I do realize the pressure. (And, even this post will upset some who won’t or didn’t get their agenda promoted.)
When we were a church plant running over 2,000 people a week I still had people who wanted me to wish someone “Happy Birthday” from stage. And, sometimes the pressure came from one of our most faithful volunteers. I get it.
But, if you want to be effective you can’t promote everything from stage.
If I promote everything I wouldn’t have time to preach, nothing would really be “special”, and pretty soon people wouldn’t listen to much of what I had to say. Plus, if I promote one thing there is automatic precedent and pressure to promote another thing. Over time you’re announcing “Faithful Followers”, “Joyful Journey” and Wednesday’s afternoon coffee club.
Where’s the line?
I think saying the pastor will never promote anything is the wrong answer. I realize the value in a pastor’s “endorsement”.
So, how do you decide what to personally promote?
I am assuming announcements are made by someone else or some other means on Sunday mornings. These are things I’m expected to say.
Here are 3 questions I ask when I discern making announcements I make personally:
What needs my personal promotion most?
This seems like a reasonable question, right? What I’m asking myself is really what is valuable to the largest amount of people and has a chance to be more successful if I say something about it? Just asking this question may or may not eliminate the “Faithful Followers” meeting. It depends on the number of people the meeting impacts within the context of the entire church. If it’s a few, I’m less likely to mention it. If it’s a significant percent — perhaps 25% or more of the church would be interested — I’m more likely to address it personally. (And, the percent is just a number. I use my best judgment here for what seems like a significant impact on the congregation as a whole.) When I talk about a men’s ministry event, for example, I know nearly half of the congregation has the opportunity to attend.
Where do I need to add credibility to a ministry?
When I arrived at the church I’m at now we had a vision to grow our college ministry. It makes sense. We are less than a mile to the center of a university and a junior college. When they had an activity, although it might impact only a small portion of the congregation, when I promoted it I raised the value of college ministry in our church. It reminded people of the importance and showed my “support”. I’ve done the same for our parking ministry which was launched shortly after I arrived. Again, I realize the weight the position brings to something and if it’s something the church needs to value more I’m likely to talk about it.
What impacts a large portion of the church and needs more attention to be successful?
We are in a growth mode. Much of this growth is from young adults and young families. Our preschool ministry is being stretched. What a great “problem” to have! I love it. But, we do need more willing servants to fill the growing needs in this area. I am frequently bringing this growth and need to the attention of our congregation. Our preschool director is thankful and apparently the personal word of encouragement makes a difference in recruiting efforts — or so I’m told. If the need can only be met fully with my mention then I know I need to bring it before the church.
Those are some of the ways I discern what to announce. Again, I can’t talk about everything our church does.
To be candid, this doesn’t eliminate the pressure from those who want something announced. It does give me some comfort I’ve at least thought through my answer.
This also doesn’t, however, negate the importance of anything we do. Every ministry is hopefully important to achieving our mission. We have a website, social media, bulletins, a mobile app, slides in the service, and announcements someone else does on Sunday to cover other things. When there is only so much time on a Sunday I have to carefully discern what I personally mention.
In closing, these are considerations for what I personally announce. Because there is only so much information people can retain I think they may be good questions to filter all the Sunday morning announcements allowed in a church service.