How To Develop A Rally Cry for Your Church

POINT OF THE POST...

Rally cries are memorable phrases that encapsulate a message or purpose. And it is used to unite people on the mission, including your church's mission.

YOU GOT THE POSITION...
YOU'RE THE LEADER...
NOW WHAT?

Let’s Make Your Church Cry! 

In the PREVIOUS POST, I unpacked my experience at Auburn Community Church (ACC). After some processing, I recognized 7 unique dynamics that made their church service amazing. 

In this post, let’s address each dynamic for your church and consider some potential implementation steps you can take to better engage your community and congregation.

The Fuel for ACC’s Fire

From what I saw and heard during my visit, here are seven notable elements present at ACC:

  1. A Clear Rally Cry
  2. A Competitive Spirit
  3. An Organized Organism
  4. Fun!
  5. Truth in Love
  6. Connection over Content
  7. Creating a Movement, not Hosting a Service

I am confident this list is incomplete, but these seven elements were clearly noticeable and noteworthy.

Now, how do we take these components and incorporate them into your church?

Let’s look at each value and consider it individually. We’ll start with the first Dynamic: A Clear Rally Cry.

A Clear Rally Cry

As I said in the previous post, this is more than a mission or vision statement. This is more like a passion statement.

At ACC, they rally around “Jesus Wins.”

This statement is a reminder of why they exist. It creates passion and energy. And it has clearly spread across their church.

Do you have a rallying cry?

Again, this is not a mission or vision statement. I’m sure you have one of both of these. I bet it is lofty and idealistic. And I doubt people on your team or congregation feel it as they say it.

Before we work to create your rally cry, let’s delineate a bit between mission, vision, strategy, and rally statements.

What is a Mission Statement?

Your Mission Statement defines your church’s (or company’s) business and objectives. Your mission statement focuses on today and what your organization does to achieve it. The best mission statements are not lofty or long. Think of a military mission. It’s specific, actionable, and includes outcomes.

Examples:

    • TED: Spread ideas.
    • Google: To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
    • Toyota USA: To attract and attain customers with high-valued products and services and the most satisfying ownership experience in America. 
    • Tesla: To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.
    • Amazon: We strive to offer our customers the lowest possible prices, the best available selection, and the utmost convenience.
    • Patagonia: Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.
    • North Point Community Church: To inspire people to follow Jesus. 

These statements do a great job of answering the question, “Why do we exist?” But I doubt anyone at these organizations derives a deep, driving passion from these statements.

Mission statements are necessary but not always motivating. 

What about Vision Statements?

Your Vision Statement describes the desired future position for your church, congregation, and community (or company and customers). Great visions create a picture of what could be fueled by a passion for what should be.

Where a mission statement defines why you exist today, your vision statement points to what should happen tomorrow because you exist today. It’s aspirational.

Examples:

    • TED: We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world.
    • Google: To provide access to the world’s information in one click.
    • Toyota USA: To be the most successful and respected car company in America. 
    • Tesla: To create the most compelling car company of the 21st century by driving the world’s transition to electric vehicles.
    • Amazon: To be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online.
    • Patagonia: A love of wild and beautiful places demands participation in the fight to save them, and to help reverse the steep decline in the overall environmental health of our planet.
    • North Point Community Church: To create churches unchurched people love. 

When you look at these statements, they are highly aspirational. And in some cases, completely unachievable. Which is fine. These statements guide the day-to-day operations, decisions, and future.

As vision is more aspirational, it does feel more like a rallying cry. But these statements are too long to drive the passion necessary to rally your troops (or congregation, volunteers, staff, etc.).

And a Strategy Statement is…

Simply how you plan to do your what. Strategy statements are sorely missing in most churches and organizations. A mission or vision without a plan is just a dream. Strategies statements define how you turn your dream into reality.

At North Point Community Church, we added our strategy statement to our mission statement: “We inspire people to follow Jesus by engaging them in the life and mission of our church.” 

I suspect most of you reading this don’t have a strategy statement, but you do have a strategy. Even if undefined, you have a method, model, or approach. The better you define your action plan, the more you’ll experience missional success. Why? Strategies allow you to measure success, adjust, try again, measure, and revise again. Success outside of a strategy is accidental and unrepeatable. 

I help churches and companies evaluate and define better strategies daily. Let me know if this type of work would benefit your organization. 

This article may help: How to Execute a Strategic Plan at Your Church – Defining Success

And Finally…A Rally Cry

It may be easier to think of a rallying cry as a short slogan. Rally cries are memorable phrases or mottos that encapsulate a message or purpose. And it is used to unite people on the mission.

You see these around sports all the time. I live in Atlanta. We aren’t known for championship teams (do NOT mention “28 – 3” to me!), but we’ve had a slightly better run lately. Atlanta United, the Braves, and UGA. 

The Atlanta Braves have a public rally cry: “FOR the A.” I think they got this idea from my friend Jeff Henderson’s book, “Know What You Are FOR.” They also have the tomahawk chop, which is like a rally chant. While potentially offensive, it certainly rallies the entire stadium.

At ACC, “Jesus Wins” is the rallying cry. And it rallies everyone toward one thing: Jesus. In the end, Jesus wins. In our life, relationships, work, etc., Jesus wins.

The statement was not something just said at ACC; it was something felt throughout ACC. And the feeling was so palpable that it elicited passion and action. The day I visited, they baptized 100 people! Most said “Jesus wins” in their personal two-minute testimony. 

Develop Your Rally Cry

Your church will become more dynamic when your core is synchronized around one core idea. It must be simple, memorable, and actionable. Add some urgency if you can, too. You want your rally cry to motivate and inspire.

That’s why mission and vision statements are insufficient to drive the necessary passion and energy. I served as a lead pastor for nearly 14 years. I couldn’t stand on our stage in front of our entire congregation, full of insiders, outsiders, and everyone in between, and “rally” everyone around “We exist to inspire people to follow Jesus.” Yes, that is why we existed, but that statement alone isn’t all that inspiring. I also couldn’t stand up and say, “We create churches unchurched people love to attend.” There were unchurched people in the room! That statement wouldn’t play well with everyone.

For most of my time at Woodstock City Church and North Point Ministries, we had momentum outside of having an official “rally cry.” Looking back, I wish we’d taken the time to develop one. Our mission statement kept us on mission. Our vision statement ensured we didn’t work against our aspirational future. But that’s all we had. We would have been better with a rallying cry. 

I believe your church will become more dynamic with a simple rallying cry. Use ACCs if you can’t think of one for yourself. However you get there, get there.

Here are some steps to create your rally cry:
  1. Ensure you have a clear mission, vision, and strategy. Your rally cry should be derived from these pre-existing statements. This is fundamental.
  2. Gather some leaders together (elders, staff, volunteers, etc.) and start listing the words, concepts, phrases, and ideas that feel passionately connected to your church.
  3. Resist the urge to decide easily or go public quickly. This slogan needs to marinate for a bit.
  4. Flout your cry aloud in safe spaces with safe people. See how people respond and react. Watch their eyes.
  5. Once you’ve repeated steps 2 – 4 enough to own your cry, define how it will be used. When it should be used, and where it will be reinforced. At ACC, the statement shows up everywhere. There’s a 20-foot rally cry mural in their auditorium. It’s in their hallways. In your case, where will you put it? When will you say it? How will you continually reinforce it? FYI: This is about strategy and intentionality.
  6. Finally, use it! Own it and incorporate it into your normative language. Say it until you can’t imagine people don’t know it, then do it 10 times more!

Cry On! 

I think you’ll be shocked at how much a rallying cry can change the dynamics in your church. Churches full of energy and enthusiasm are attractional to outsiders and inspiring to insiders. Find something that ignites passion in you and your team and allow it to spread like a momentum virus in and around your church.

If I were leading a church today, I’d be tempted to adopt the rallying cry: “Let’s Overpopulate Heaven!”

That phrase elicits something profound within my soul. That’s what a rallying cry should do. 

I have a personal rally cry for my consulting practice: “Add More Intention To Your Mission.” That is an idea that fires me up. I’m passionate about it! No organization should be more strategic or intentional than the local church because no organization has a mission more important than the local church.

Take your time and develop something worth rallying around. You’ll be glad you did.

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