Your parish relies on many forms of communication to get the word out about what you want your parishioners to know and what you want them to do. These include your bulletin, bulletin boards, signage, web site and, increasingly, social media. But, consider the oldest, old school communication you use: the announcements at Mass.
We use to give little or no thought to this element of the weekend experience: whatever the celebrant felt like announcing often determined what they would be Mass to Mass and weekend to weekend. Now we call the announcements the most discussed element of the whole weekend experience. Why? What changed? We figured out they’re an important opportunity and then we figured out how to take advantage of that opportunity.
We call our announcements “Endnotes,” they come after the prayer after communion, and they’re given not by the celebrant but by a rotating (and small) circle of staff.
Here are five ideas that form our announcements.
- Remind People Who You Are.
One of the first things we found helpful for announcements was to remind people of who we were, both as individuals and as a church. A rotation of staff members making the announcements allows the congregation to get to know them.
It’s also helpful to remind congregants or introduce newcomers to who you are as a church. This can also be very simply accomplished. For instance, we often say: “We want to be a church people who don’t like church…like. If that’s you, welcome. We’re glad you’re here.”
- Highlight What God is Doing Through the Church.
Limit your announcements to church-wide announcements that are either open to everyone or of interest to them. If you want them to do something be as clear as you can be about how they can fulfill your request. But always yoke your request to the higher purposes of the church.
- Not More Information/Alternate Sources of Information
A lot of information in the announcements can confuse people. And when they’re confused, they tend to do nothing at all. The most important announcement is always your website address (where, hopefully, all the most current information is available) or the existence of your lobby information desk.
- Incorporate Visuals.
We almost always include B-roll of programs we’re highlighting or events we’ve hosted. Photos of happy parishioners serving in volunteer ministry, for instance, shown on a weekend we’re asking for more ministers, can be the most compelling argument of all.
- Prepare and Practice.
Make sure what you’re going to say is carefully scripted, and those making the announcements are well rehearsed. Humor is great in the announcements, but you’re going to have a hard time pulling it off (and run the risk of saying something you’ll regret) without practice.
Oh, and one other thing: don’t try and sell anything in your announcements. That’s not the message you want to send them off with.