Font Size » Large | SmallA few days ago I was speaking with an Open Bible minister about how to more effectively communicate with their Facebook page and various Facebook groups. He was getting frustrated posting the same announcement over and over and over. I empathized with him; that would drive me crazy too! First, I mentioned an article I wrote a couple years ago that identified the different strategies of communicating with Facebook pages vs. Facebook groups. If you are struggling with this same issue, go ahead and read it before we continue. It’s ok, I’ll wait! Read “Preaching To the Wrong Choir: Facebook Groups and Pages” Now! As we spoke, our conversation moved from making announcements in the digital space to making those announcements on the platform on a Sunday morning. As a former executive staff member at a church of about 1,700 people and spending my life thus far involved almost entirely in ministry, I know one of the most coveted Sunday morning time slots by a church’s ministry leaders is the announcement block. It can be difficult to narrow down what announcements make the cut, especially if you’re put on the spot on a Sunday morning. Let’s talk about some best practices pertaining to something as simple as the announcements to make sure the right message is getting to the right people and that you are responsible with the time people are giving you. After all, everything going on in your church is important, right? The 80% Rule There’s a very simple saying that I like to live by in the communications world; When everything is the priority, nothing is the priority. To illustrate this, imagine you are writing something in a Word document. You have all the formatting options; bold, italics, underlined, etc. You use these formatting options to communicate an emphasis in your thought. But what if every word was bold? Could you tell what part of the sentence should be emphasized if it were all in italics? What if the whole document were emphasized? You choose carefully the words you want to emphasize to craft a message for maximum connection with the reader. You do this to really hammer home the point you are trying to make. When the whole document is emphasized, the reader isn’t sure what you feel strongly about, and it can be difficult to follow the thought. As a result, the reader will ignore the emphasis completely… if they keep reading. By trying to make everything a priority, nothing becomes a priority. We have a way of doing this same thing with our verbal communication from the platform. When we announce any and every announcement that comes our way, we tend to communicate a hodge-podge of what the church views as a priority. Not only that, we are communicating things to people who don’t need to know them. At the church I mentioned we established a rule that in addition to the welcome, we would do no more than three announcements — two if we could get away with it. The only way we would do more than three announcements was if the pastor pressed the “I’m the pastor, and we are going to include this announcement no matter what” button. This only happened when the announcement was centered around a large event that needed the time; it was a rare occurrence. Instead we used the 80 percent rule to determine which events were announced, as well as the chronological order in which they were announced. If the event didn’t pertain to at least 80 percent of the congregation, and wasn’t happening in the next few weeks, it did not get a verbal announcement. It doesn’t make sense to have all of the announcements appear in the bulletin and also verbally communicated from stage. So if an event didn’t pertain to the 80 percent, it was became a bulletin announcement only. If the event (or its registration deadline) wasn’t taking place in the near future, again the announcement was published only in the bulletin. We used other, more direct communication methods for the more specific written announcements (Facebook groups, text messages, or emails come to mind). Match the Mission, Build the Brand Another guide to help determine which announcements you’ll make is guided by your church’s missions statement. In another post, we talked about how branding is more than just a logo. Branding is what people think of when they think of your church. If you create it correctly, your brand should match your missions statement. Communicate in the most visible places what is a priority to your church, including from the platform. Never Forget the Goldfish The sad reality that some church leaders don’t want to address is that most people’s attention spans are exhausted by the time the Word of God is presented from the platform. The church service time has been so filled with videos, announcements, and promos, that the people are exhausted emotionally — before, arguably, the most important part of the service. And then we expect them to pay attention to a 45-60 minute sermon. Now my ego is not big enough to tell you how long you should preach God’s Word in your church services, but it is confident enough to say that we should consider what we try to jam into our services so that when the time for the sermon does come, we can be more effective communicators of that Word – and it can fall on ears that aren’t exhausted. After all, we humans now have attention spans shorter than that of a goldfish, thanks to targeted advertising, social media, and smartphones that will notify us for literally any reason we desire. By being wise about how we structure the minor elements of our service, we actually build in time for the Spirit to move mightily in the major ones.