It's been two years since I made an announcement at youth group.
It's because announcements just clutter the Primary Message.
I mean, does it really make sense to talk about Jesus for an hour...
...and then spend your last words trying to get everyone to remember next weekend's car wash?
And besides, is there any data that shows that those announcements actually work?
If announcements are going to clutter and confuse The Message, they'd better work.
Here's the thing. They probably don't work.
In fact, my data would suggest that mentioning an upcoming event for a minute or two is probably the least effective way to drive students to get signed up for it.
SIDENOTE: Are we really surprised by this? That announcing a weekend retreat to a group of twelve-year-olds immediately after they've finished playing dodgeball and immediately before we spend twenty minutes talking about something else might not be the best way to get them signed up for the aforementioned weekend retreat an hour later when they get home and become suddenly aware that they're drowning in a mountain of unfinished homework?
So for the last two years, we haven't made a single announcement during our programs. I'll tell you how we did it, but first let me tell you what happened when we quit announcements cold turkey:
1. Our worship time gained an intense focus that it never had before. We sang to Jesus. We read about Jesus. We prayed to Jesus. We taught on Jesus. At no point did we interrupt the flow of God's worship to remind everyone about the JrHi lock-in next weekend.
2. It freed up our staff's time. Most of our announcements were videos, and you already know that videos are time-intensive. Suddenly, we had an extra hour or two a week. That's nice.
3. Participation in events actually increased. This was the grand experiment. If we stopped announcing our events and fundraisers, certainly fewer people would come, right?
More of them came, and it's no secret WHY more of them came.
Since we couldn't do announcements to get the word out about an event, we were forced to make sure we did our due diligence with our other communication methods.
We spent more time doing things that work and we stopped doing things that didn't work.
If I was a clever marketer, I might say something like this:
Continuing to use a broken system is like continuing to use a broken hammer. It only breaks more.
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Those announcements took a good deal of time and energy to put together, they detracted from our primary purpose, AND THEY WEREN'T EVEN WORKING!
So we gave ourselves the freedom to experiment with things, even things like announcements, which have been done since the beginning of time. When we did that, we found out we didn't need them.
If we didn't need them, then we weren't going to waste our time or energy doing them.
So, what are the things we do instead of announcements?
1. We send invitation postcards to students whenever we have a big event coming up.
2. We create Facebook events to share details and so students can easily promote our ministry to their friends.
3. We send a targeted email to the parents of students who received an invitation postcard.
4. We occasionally use kiosks, posters, and sign-up areas in the lobby. People who show up on Sunday morning know what's going on. It's just that we don't make a show about it in the Sanctuary.
That's it. That's all.
These are the most effective ways we communicate anything, and we've experienced zero dropoff in participation.
The best part? No more announcements.
What would keep you from experimenting with a "no announcements" worship service? Let me know by sharing a comment below.
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