One of my pet peeves is poorly done announcements that detract from our corporate worship experiences. Today, I share with you a post by my friend and counterpart from the Kansas-Nebraska Convention, David Manner, a frequent contributor to this blog:
Worship that occurs outside of the service is just as vital as worship that occurs inside. And yet, during our worship services we often announce those outside worship opportunities of ministry, service and justice on the fly. Little or no prayer or preparation is given to announcements that let the church know how they can be the church when they leave.
Measure Twice, Cut Once is a woodworking idiom that not only makes sense literally, it also makes sense figuratively. It encourages us to plan and prepare for something of value in a careful and thorough manner before taking action. In other words, think before you speak; don’t shoot from the hip; set a guard over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips (Ps 141:3 NIV).
The result of ill prepared verbal announcements is often a long-winded circular discourse of verbosity, clichés and topical detours. Successful worship service announcers have studied the flight plan and know how to land the plane before taking off.
Those with announcement responsibilities could learn a valuable lesson from microblogging sites such as Twitter. Its success is based on sharing succinct but also persuasive information. Users get in, get out and get on with it. The limitations of 140 characters forces users to formulate a mental outline of what is essential to say and how it needs to be said before saying it. They measure twice before cutting once.
Successful tweeting synthesizes information based on what the audience needs to know and do. In his book, Viral, Leonard Sweet wrote, “It takes more work to distill thoughts into two sentences than it does into two pages. In the best of Twitter, the language is distilled, restrained, made to be sipped rather than quaffed.”
Meaningful worship service announcements are marked by a clear, succinct economy of words. Concise verbal eloquence requires preparation and practice. Maybe if we spent as much time praying over and rehearsing our worship service announcements as we spend praying over and rehearsing our songs, those announcements could contribute to rather than detract from worship.
The Shaker philosophy of furniture making offers great measure twice, cut once wisdom to apply to our worship service announcements:
Make every product better than it’s ever been made before. Create the parts you cannot see with as much care as the parts you can see. Use only the best materials, even for the most everyday items. Give as much attention to the smallest detail as you do the largest. Design every item to last.
 Leonard Sweet, Viral: How Social Networking Is Poised to Ignite Revival (Colorado Springs: WaterBrook Press, 2012), 66.
In my almost twenty years of music ministry leadership, I have seen a constant recurring pattern in the evolution of announcements. Without fail, staff leadership regularly comes to the unanimous proclamation: “We spend too much time doing announcements.” Then, one of the following things happen: A) Announcements responsibilities get shifted to another staff member, with the caveat that they are to make them fresher and/or more succinct. or B) The same person previously in charge of that area vows to make them shorter or only emphasizes one or two “church-wide” events. This works for about 4 weeks. Then the laity starts pressuring staff to highlight certain “priorities”, and major events like revivals or VBS come around begging for extra attention. The newly shortened announcements time begins to expand once again, and before you know it, it’s back to taking a disproportionate chunk of what should be worship and proclamation time. This really takes consistency and bold leadership to make a new announcements paradigm “stick.”