Worship Announcements are Worship and Testimony

tired family'     Every week at the beginning of our worship services at Christ Presbyterian I am called upon to share announcements and highlight activities. While we have an extensive bulletin with a great deal of information and details, it still is expected that I will highlight them. When I first arrived at Christ Presbyterian, we actually passed the microphone to do this. It often took a great deal of time, so we decided that we would only announce a few items that either were impending or missed the bulletin.

Soon announcements were turned into prayers so they could be said during prayer time. I guess there are worse things to have happen than the ministries of the church being the subject of prayers. Yet, it also seems a bit strange. This wouldn’t be a problem if we were a sleepy church that didn’t do much. But we are a vital church with dynamic ministries. Perhaps you have noticed recently that I have made more announcements from the pulpit than I normally have chosen to. Part of this is because we have a lot going on. The other part of it is that it is difficult to choose what needs highlighting and what doesn’t. Inevitably someone is upset if you highlight one thing and not the other.
    The Jersey in me wants to say, “the announcements are in the bulletin, you are adults, read them.” This doesn’t seem genuine though. It is important for guest and member alike to hear about what God is doing in our congregational life. This has been the tack I have taken with “announcements.” I have tried to frame them in the light of what God is doing through our congregation. Sometimes this is a honest feeling I have, and other times it makes we wonder if I am simply trying to spiritualize something that is simply business.
    The truth of the matter is that our bulletin, Tidbits and service announcements are more than just things to do. Each item listed in the bulletin is a ministry and should be seen as an opportunity to respond to God’s call. Sometimes it is hard to see what is so different about church activities. How is the church any different than other civic associations or fraternities? What sets the church apart from the Rotary, Toastmasters, Boy Scouts or your favorite group?
    Sometimes sadly we might have to answer, “not much.” This is why I bring the announcements into our worship. The truth of the matter is that somehow the daily ministries of the church have simply become activities for many people. What the church does is just another thing to do. The Book of Order of the Presbyterian Church talks about worship in this way, “Christians may worship at any time, for all time has been hallowed by God.” It also points out that, “the identifying reality of Christian worship was neither the place nor the space but the presence of God.” This reminds us that the convenient box we have placed God in is far too small. Our whole life is worship.
    Don’t get me wrong, I still think I have been making too many announcements at the beginning of our worship services. I do encourage you to keep reading the bulletin, tidbits and website to keep abreast of the goings on at Christ Presbyterian Church. I do hope though, that we can use our “announcement time” as a time of testimony to what God is doing in our midst.
    What sets us apart from those other groups is that we acknowledge that God is active in all we do and say. In every time and space, God is at work. Even the most mundane task, like mulch spreading, can be an act of worship. The challenge for us is to make sure we are connecting our activity to this reality. I don’t know too many people in our area who are looking for more things to do. Most of my friends are very busy and look like that family above. As the church, we need to seek to not make peoples lives more hectic, but instead we should seek to add meaning and purpose to their lives.
    As the school year draws to a close and your summer gets hectic, I hope that you will find ways to connect with God. I pray that part of that is through regular participation in our common congregational life. God is doing some exciting things and I encourage you to avail yourself of those things that will help you express worship in your daily life.