Keep this up-beat and informal in most church services. This is usually done by the pastor or someone who has been designated in advance. They are to welcome people to the church, let them know what the service is about, include an opening prayer and encourage people to greet each other.
TIP: If you go right into an up-tempo song just as the welcome surge has hit its peak in the room you create strong starting energy.
This sets the atmosphere of the entire church service. If the welcome and call to worship are simply read off the page in a monotone voice, the congregation gets the message loud and clear, “This is going to be boring, lifeless and far too long!” If the welcome sounds spontaneous, heartfelt and authentic then it says, “This church is real, they care that I’m here and it might even be interesting.”
Let people truly welcome each other. You may find that a formal ‘Passing of the Peace’ may mean a lot to those who understand this rich tradition but you may also find that it alienates more visitors than it welcomes. How does the non-Christian respond to someone who comes to her and says, “The peace of Christ be with you?” “Have a nice day” doesn’t work. “Yes, it is raining outside” doesn’t really pass the test. Sometimes a simple hello and a handshake can go a long way towards saying good morning. As much as I love ‘Passing of the Peace’ I have also had too many uncomfortable blank stares from visitors. They just don’t know how to respond. It’s a good way to say “You’re not one of us,” and to leave them with the deer in the headlights look at the very start of the service. Think about it. See what works for your people. Perhaps explaining the meaning of the passing of the peace on a regular basis will develop people’s comfort and understanding.
Announcements are important for any church. Yet, I have been in church services where 15 minutes of the 1 hour service has been surrendered to the tedium of announcements.
So, how do you do these well? How do you have a successful announcement time that communicates effectively and doesn’t take over the entire service?
Here are some pointers:
By moving many of your announcements to the pre-roll (PowerPoint or otherwise), just like in a movie theatre, you can also shorten your announcement time significantly.
Keep them short, upbeat and done by one person.
Why would you keep announcements to one person? The announcement time sets the culture of the church as much as many other parts of the service. If the announcements communicate boredom, an insular attitude (us and them), negativity, or long droll statements you are communicating the culture of the church to be similar to this experience. The other reality is that many people take far too long to get to the microphone and far too long to leave. If you call on Martha or Henry to make an announcement and it takes them 2 minutes to finally saunter up to the microphone, unfold their piece of paper, and tap the microphone then you have already caused a large percentage of your people to mentally check out.
TIP: Email, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Website and other forms of Social Networking and Web Networking are all wonderful ways to communicate with your church body as well as to reduce announcement time during a service.
While you want to communicate enthusiasm, also remember to use a natural tone of voice (still with plenty of energy). Perhaps most importantly, be yourself. You want the members to trust you and they'll trust a real person before they'll trust an over-hyped stereo-type.
Another rule of thumb for announcements is that the only announcements that are made from the front affect either the entire congregation or a significant percentage of the people in the room.
Also remember that you want people to do something with the information you’re giving them. This is called a call to action. Here are some call to action pointers:
· What do you want people to remember?
· What do you want people to do?
· What specific action do you want them to take?
· When must they do this by?
· What will they miss out on if they don’t take action?
· If there is limited availability of your offer or opportunity let them know this to create a hunger.
Announcements are an important part of any gathering. If done well, they can create community, as well as growth in both numbers and effectiveness in your mission.
The next blog will deal with Themes, Worship Songs Sets and more. Stay tuned . . . .