Today we want to dig into one area of communication which we do differently from other churches: the announcements. Aside from what is communicated during the celebration of Mass itself, we communicate at the beginning of Mass (something we call “the welcome & announcements”) and at the end of Mass (we call this “the news”). Why do we do announcements this way? And what is “the news” all about?
Welcome & announcements
At the 10:00, 11:30, and 5:30 Masses, before we begin worship, a member of the team welcomes everyone and shares what’s going on and what’s coming up in our community. There are many potential things to share and announce, but we limit these announcements to information that is relevant to many and open to all. Beyond the content of what is actually announced, our overall message in the welcome & announcements is that we’re glad you’re here, we’re excited to be here, and there are exciting things happening here! Ideally the welcome & announcements starts Mass off with excitement and enthusiasm. Mass is a celebration and the gospel is good news--every part of our worship experience should reflect that.
The news is what’s communicated at the end of Mass, after the Prayer after Communion, at the 10:00, 11:30, and 5:30 Masses. This includes a welcome to people who don’t normally come to church, the message summary and challenge, and some conversation with Fr. Thom. The news has a few purposes and goals:
- Our priority as a church is to reach those who have been disconnected from church, and research shows that the number one reason unchurched people don’t come to church is that they don’t feel welcome. So the special welcome to them in the news is a chance to put them at ease, to speak to what their experience might be like, and to tell them that no matter what, our whole community is glad they’re here. And it seems to work. We have newcomers approach us after Mass to say, “Thank you so much for saying that. It really makes me feel that I am welcome and I belong.”
- The message (the homily) is the primary communication method of the whole worship experience. Given that, we take some time to recap the message and challenge for the week so that people are sent out on mission. The message recap also allows people to hear the message in a voice other than Fr. Thom’s. Oftentimes an idea or concept sinks in better when you’ve heard it from more than one person and in different words.
- Another goal of the news is to give some visibility to staff. In Catholic culture, there is often the idea that the pastor does it all. Fr. Thom does a lot, to be sure, but the parish is not the pastor alone and seeing other staff regularly (and knowing their name and role) helps to reinforce that there is depth of leadership in our church and that ultimately all of our work is a team effort.
- The back-and-forth conversation at the end of the news is meant to lend some humanness to the liturgy. People are more likely to put the message into action if they feel it’s approachable and modeled in a way that makes it accessible.