Evangelize with Announcements?
As Easter approaches, we recognize that there will be lots of visitors. We give particular attention to the details because we want to make a good impression. Church announcements are a perennial issue, and they becomes even more worrisome at high traffic times like Easter. How can we be sensitive to people's schedules and still seize the opportunity that this privileged opportunity represents?
We've all heard it - keep'em short! But is that the REAL secret to good announcements at the end of Mass? Then logically, omitting these announcements completely would be even better! Surveys suggest that one of the top complaints made by people is that they are not kept informed. And Easter is such a significant opportunity to reach so many newcomers. So, what do we do? Is it a bad time for people who are preparing to leave? Some parishes delay the start of liturgy, and allow latecomers a few more minutes on Easter, by doing some words of welcome and announcements before Mass begins. This reduces the need to say so much afterward when people are ready to go.
What is necessary to say after communion? Time after communion is a mixed bag of emotions and energy. Some of the best churches see this as a privileged moment, when people are most aware of their missionary identity. Some take advantage of this to present a call to action! Consider these best practices:
- Start with a word of appreciation. Make it sincere and specific.
- Refrain from details. Support all announcements with the details - in print and online. Organize all news and information online, and easily accessible. Prioritize information based on urgency and broad appeal or impact. (If you direct people to a website make sure that news and events are on the landing page, up high, and to the right.)
- Be enthusiastic. Unless we engage them with humor or another form of affective response, we can lose their attention within seconds.
- Present a call to action that connects with the Message for the day. Mix in any necessary practical announcements with expressions of gratitude and invitations for further engagement.
- Speak to their self-interest. Ask yourself: What is in it for them? (If this question cannot be answered there may be a bigger problem.)
- Tweet your promos. If you want parishioners to invite others to church events, equip them with the "elevator pitch" (an easy to remember pitch - maximum of two lines or what can be expressed in the time it takes to ascend two floors in an elevator. This pitch can be tweeted on the following Tuesday as a reminder. Avoid church jargon and keep words at an eighth-grade vocabulary.
Remember: Church announcements work best as part of an overall strategy to get the word out in at least seven ways. So how can the parish reinforce a message and get parishioners to act on it? In addition to equipping your congregation with the elevator pitch, try: a short e-news note (no more than 5 items), occasional e-mail blasts (1 item), an attractive website promotion, print flyers or brochures in the bulletin or in the seats, along with posts on Facebook, Youtube, Twitter or Pinterest (N.B. teens now use the Vine) and if you have a money to spend consider an automated call system (inquire with: St. Lawrence, Buffalo), or an e-notes/ texting platform (see Flocknote.com or Mailchimp.com).
Lastly, do not forget to constantly evaluate the methods of publicity being used for all parish events and programs. Ask yourself - is this form of publicity really necessary. This office recently dispensed with most physical mailings and 90% of printed publicity for the upcoming parish ministry conference - "The Church Rebuilt". Nevertheless, registrations are pouring in each day. Have we gotten yours? If not, just visit: www.parishrenewal.net to register or download a group registration form today.
Consider these articles and ideas:
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