I was once talking with someone in church who insisted the best way to bury anything is to make sure it is mentioned in the church notices. I understand why he felt that way. It was not at all uncommon to hear yet another person complain they didn’t know about such and such a thing despite it being announced for weeks on Sunday mornings, being re-watchable on the live stream, being sent out on email and being written in church newsletters. Most pastors will have a similar sort of story to tell about church communications at some time or other.
But given the widespread view of announcements, it is easy to see why people think they don’t matter. They can be a perfunctory part often tacked onto the end of a service that nobody really bothers listening to. But I think they are a much more important part of a worship service than that. It pays to remember that they are rightly considered a part of our worship.
I have written before about our particular approach to liturgy here. Every church has a liturgy (an order in which you do things) and exactly what you do necessarily communicates something. I am not of the view that there is one particular way to order your service. But I am of the view that how you order your service communicates something about what you believe, what you are doing, and what you believe you are doing, which means it is worth thinking through and potentially explaining as you go through the service why it is ordered as it is. Again, you can see our explanation of what we do and why we do it in the order we do it here.
But as part of thinking through your liturgy, it is worth thinking about where your notices fit and what you communicate through them. For us, the most important thing the notices do is communicate that we think our faith is something to be put into practice. We hear from the Word, we pray in response to the Word, we sing the Word and then we point to the things that we will do as a result of the Word. Our notices communicate that we think there are things to be done because of what we believe. We don’t just hear the Word and do nothing. The Word drives us to works.
Second, the notices communicate that we expect people to be involved in the work of the church. There are things on that people will run. They are being announced because we expect other people will need to know about them. They need to know about them because we expect them to be at them (or, at least, some of them). If we didn’t think anyone other than those running them needed to know about them, we wouldn’t announce them at all. But announcing things suggests we expect people to be active in them.
Third, the notices allow people to pray about the work of ministry. Even if I am not involved in a particular thing, it is good for me to know it is happening so that I can pray for it. Similarly, it is good to communicate that there are things I will be involved in that warrant prayer. Our announcements communicate that there are things the church is doing that we want the Lord to work through. We are communicating that we expect the church to pray for the work of ministry.
You may have all sorts of discussions about where you might put your notices. We put a slide up at the beginning of the service – before anything starts – so people can make a note of what is coming up (or take a photo on their phone). Towards the end of the service – before we turn off the live stream and take communion – we give the announcements. This is so people tuning in on the live stream can also get them and so those who re-watch later on can see them again. But as we order our service around the Word, we want to read, pray and sing the Word and then show, through the notices, that this same Word now drives us out to be active in service.
All of that is to say, don’t dismiss your notices just yet. They are far more important than many people realise. Far from burying matters, they communicate a faith, and a church, that is actively seeking to put into practice what we believe.