I frequently have pastors ask how I choose what I personally announce on Sunday. I am not the primary communicator of announcements. Some pastors might be. Yet, there are some things I NEED to announce. So, through the years I’ve developed a framework to help me discern.
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. Or, 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.
When we were a newer church running close to 3,000 people a week I still had people who wanted me to wish someone “Happy Birthday” from stage. The same was true when we were an established church averaging over 3,000 people per week. Of course this happened when I pastored small churches of less than 100 people.
Sometimes the pressure came from one of our most faithful volunteers. So, regardless of church size, I understand the pressure. Do you announce or not?
But if you want to be effective you can’t promote everything from stage. You simply can’t.
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. There is 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.
3 questions I ask when discerning what I announce on Sunday:
1. What event currently needs my personal promotion most?
This seems like a reasonable question, right? What I ask myself is 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 have eliminated the “Faithful Followers” meeting. It depended on the number of people the meeting impacted within the context of the entire church. If it’s a few, I was less likely to mention it. If it was a significant percent — perhaps 25% or more of the church would be interested — I was more likely to address it personally.
The percent is just a number. I use my best judgment, and the advice of others who could think strategically with me, for what seems like a significant impact on the congregation as a whole. If I talk about a worship night event, for example, I know a large part of the congregation have the opportunity to attend.
2. Where do I need to add credibility or “value” to a ministry?
When I first arrived at the church I pastor (I’m in my second season at the church) we had a vision to grow our college ministry. It made sense. The church is 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 did the same for our parking ministry, which was launched shortly after I arrived.
Again, I realize the weight the position of pastor brings to something. So, if it’s something the church needs to value more then I am more likely to talk about it personally. (I do this about giving almost every week.)
3. What issue impacts a large portion of the church and needs more attention to be successful?
We have been in a growth mode most of the time I have been pastor. Thankfully, much of this growth has been with young adults and young families. Our preschool ministry is always being stretched. What a great “problem” to have! I love it.
But, as a result, we need more willing servants to fill the growing needs in this area. So I frequently bring this growth and need to the attention of our congregation. The staff and volunteers in these areas are thankful and apparently the personal word of encouragement makes a difference in recruiting efforts — or so I am told.
Again, I do this with giving almost every week.
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 as a pastor. Again, I can’t talk about everything our church does and still preach a message.
To be candid, this doesn’t eliminate the pressure from those who want something announced. It does give me some comfort that I have at least thought through my answer.
This also doesn’t negate the importance of anything else we are doing. Every ministry is hopefully important to achieving a church’s mission. We have a website, social media, handouts, slides in the service, and announcements someone else does on Sunday to cover other things.