Has this ever happened to you in church? You nervously jump onto the stage on a Sunday morning to announce what you feel is an incredible opportunity — and no is listening — not even that one member that literally remembers even the most obscure sermons from the late ’90s.

Announcement time doesn’t have to be something you suffer through. It is possible to pull off a great announcement this weekend, and a great way to start is by avoiding these five common potholes.

1. TOO MANY STORYLINES

I was traveling recently, and on the way to my destination I had to make a few connecting flights. By the time I landed, I was tired, grumpy, and my bag was on a plane several states away. The return flight was a nonstop flight that got me where I wanted, bags in hand, and I even arrived a bit early to my destination. I think you can guess which flight I enjoyed more.

Church announcements operate the same way — you are taking your congregation on a journey. The more items and opportunities you present, the less likely the people listening are going to arrive at the destination you want. By creating a clear and focused storyline, you help them stay with you on that journey.

2. JUMBLING THE ASK

Many churches have a hard time asking members to take action in a clear way. When you don’t ask clearly and confidently for a response, you plant the idea in the mind of your members that they shouldn’t volunteer or donate because you don’t seem to believe in what you’re advocating.

If it’s important enough to say from the stage, don’t leave room for doubt. Ask the congregation to take action, because (as my wife has often told me) nobody can read minds. Tell them what the next actionable step is.

3. NO ONE KNOWS WHAT’S AT STAKE

The congregation should know why what you’re saying is important. If Luke Skywalker decided to hit the snooze button instead of getting up and blowing up the Death Star, what would happen? If we knew everything would turn out fine regardless, nobody would care about the movie at all. If your congregation feels they can “just let the staff handle it” and everything will be fine, they will not take action. You got on the stage for a reason, make sure they know what happens if they don’t join in.

4. USING TOO MUCH INSIDER JARGON

You love your church. You love it so much you did the one thing that hurts organizations the most: you became an expert about everything you do.

It sounds like a great thing (and it is for the most part), but the problem is, many pastors and leaders have forgotten what it was like to know nothing about your church or how you operate. You inadvertently got the curse of knowledge. The result of this curse is we are often unaware of just how much jargon (insider or churchy language) we are using in our announcements. A quick remedy to this problem is to pick a 4th grader you know. Now ask yourself, “would  _______ be able to understand this?”

5. YOU PLAY THE HERO

The reason we love great movies is that a great movie allows us to imagine ourselves at some level as the hero in the story. The same is true from almost every announcement your church makes. Members will position themselves as the hero in the story every time. The problem is, most churches talk in a way that positions the church as the hero in the story. This sets us up for failure because most people in your church don’t need a hero. What they do need is a guide.

A guide is the strongest character in any story. They have “been there, done that” and know how to help the hero (your members) win the day. By positioning the church as the guide, you help your church members win the day. They find significance and purpose in volunteering for the church because you are guiding each member in their hero’s journey of answering the question: “How can I make a difference?”

Great announcements are possible! Try implementing these tips this weekend and watch the congregation lean in.

The original article appeared here.