When the Door Closes–Deciding Who Should Share a Big Announcement

Who actually delivers a major announcement to the church is almost as important as what is said. There are different schools of thought on this. Here some observations based on 15 years of delivering a lot of big and/or delicate announcements. I’d love to hear yours:

  • If there is a lot of information to convey, you want your most skilled communicator to deliver the news. This is usually the preacher. Some really feel as though having the elders do it is best. This can be the case if you have elders who are skilled communicators. Most churches don’t abound here. If the church might doubt the elders support without their visibility at the time of announcement, you might consider them standing on stage with the minister, or opening the announcement with a brief introduction (45 seconds or less) and closing it with prayer. However, it’s a huge mistake to ask elders strictly based on title to deliver highly complicated or volatile announcements over 5 or 10 minutes. I’ve seen this blow up several times.
  • If it’s a doctrinal matter, it usually works best if the elders make the announcement. The preacher then can endorse it briefly after or can preach in that stream showing agreement. Either way, it’s important the church see the minister and elders united on these matters.
  • If it’s a financial matter, having a member of the finance team do it can work well–if they know how to communicate. If not, elders should make it…unless the announcement falls into the first category above. The reason is that many churches think their preacher knows zero about money and the elders know everything about money–though this is seldom the case in fact on either front. Church finance is a very different animal–but that’s a subject for another post 🙂
  • If it’s a serious matter of moral failure, etc., I would have whoever the church looks to as their “pastor” with the most integrity. Titles are irrelevant here. Every church has a pastor(s) regardless of what the business card says. When the church will wobble over a bombshell of disappointment, it needs a pillar. Sometimes it’s the preacher, the longest serving minister, a trusted elder, or the known best-friend of the fallen. When making an announcement that involves sin, there is usually a temporary funeral-like feel to the moment. So, one way to come at it may seem bizarre…but ask, “At the person’s funeral, who should be behind the microphone?” Why? The church knows the person making the announcement can be trusted to be fair to the person involved. They will also respect the person behind the microphone for having the courage to make a difficult announcement. Make sure the announcement is truthful but fair. One the difficult announcement is made, healing can begin.
  • If there’s a big “victory” for the church, I’ve found it effective for the elders and minister to make the announcement together. It’s good for the church to see a united leadership team to go with a big, good news announcement! It’s frosting on an already sweet cake.

What have you seen work over the years? What have you seen be less effective?

Dr. Tim Spivey is Lead Planter of New Vintage Church in San Diego, California. He is the author of numerous articles and one book, "Jesus: The Powerful Servant." A sought after speaker for events, Tim also serves as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University. Tim serves as a church consultant, and his writings are featured on ChurchLeaders.com, Church Executive magazine, Faith Village, Sermon Central, and Giving Rocket.

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