Healthy Leaders


Clarify Your Rally Cry

Dan LovagliaDan Lovaglia

A new ministry chapter is just a page-turn away for you and your team. You’re gearing up for fall. Plans are in motion. You’ve set schedules, filled in rosters, and stocked bins. You’ve got a plan to tie up every loose end. You’re a leader on a mission. Why? Because deep down you’re certain of at least one thing:

Christ-centered children’s ministry has the power to change lives forever.

I’ve been reflecting on the value of being crystal clear about what matters most. It’s an ongoing leadership exercise for me. While most personal resolutions remain short-lived, children’s ministry calls for a higher standard. Churches must never be okay with dropping the ball on this one. The lives of kids, families, and leaders are on the line.

You Need a Rally Cry

Do you remember this motivating scene from The Chronicles of Narnia? (CLICK HERE to watch: “Are You With Me?”) Peter readies himself and his leadership team at the front of battle. He confirms that his leaders are with him. Before charging down the hill, Peter shouts five focused words: For Narnia … and for Aslan! This isn’t just any old rally cry. Peter’s timely words paint a picture and send a message. His rally cry carries heart-stirring meaning. It calls every willing soul to sacrificial action. If anyone was wondering what mattered most, this rally cry cleared it up.

Consider your children’s ministry these days. What needs to happen so kids, families and leaders are served in a Christ-centered way? Would you say your leaders, families, and kids are all on board heading in the same direction? Is your ministry vision in plain sight? Do people talk about it with conviction? What will result if you stay unclear about what matters most in your ministry today? On the contrary, what could happen in peoples’ lives if you choose to clarify your rally cry?

There are two unifying benefits that come when you clarify your ministry rally cry.

  1. A clear vision inspires hearts.

Great rally cries evoke emotion; they stir people up from the inside out. Peter could have shouted a lot of things. But, “Let’s go!” doesn’t have the same impact as charging forward yelling “For Narnia … and for Aslan!” at the top of your lungs. Peter was wise to call out a hope-filled vision of true success. Yes, he was insecure as a young leader. Yes, he was afraid to fail. But, Peter’s rally cry demonstrated courage and it was contagious.

Years ago I was leading a youth ministry. A student in the group brought a verse from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount to my attention. Her thoughts were fixated on Matthew 5:8: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” She wondered if Christ’s words were really true. As it turns out, she wasn’t alone. Many teenagers in that ministry were desperate for a meaningful, personal connection with God.

Matthew 5:8 isn’t a traditional rally cry, but it quickly became one for us. Our ministry leaned into this statement as our focal point for the year: “The pure in heart will see God.” The imagery of seeing God face to face moved us deeply. It changed how we planned and prayed. It shifted our relationships with the Lord and each other. Regularly revisiting this truth inspired our hearts around what mattered most for a season.

What does God want your ministry focus to be this year? I’m sure there are pictures and phrases floating around your church or ministry that communicate clear vision. Maybe you could draw upon a word or two from your mission statement. Perhaps there’s a Scripture verse that’s resonating deeply with your leadership team. Remember, whatever you focus on doesn’t need to be profound. Just make sure it’s clear and compelling. God will take care of using it to inspire hearts.

  1. A clear voice focuses action.

If a rally cry results in confusion rather than focused action, you’ve got a problem. Imagine Peter’s army responding to his call to charge into battle by sitting down to pick daisies. What a terrible end to the story that would be. So what actually happened? Everyone heard the rally cry and fully engaged in the divine challenge. Peter headed down the hill with a legion of troops backing him. They were completely committed to the cause, never veering to the left or the right. Each one knew the mission and his role in it. “For Narnia … and for Aslan!” or bust!

“Without vision the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18) is one of the most referenced verses in ministry leadership. It builds a case on multiple levels for why clear vision toward focused action is needed. Think about it. In an emergency room, a medical team can’t skip a beat or someone could die. A clear voice must guide the eyes, ears, and hands of the group. On a spiritual level, there are kids and families that are close to the heart of your church. They need to hear the message of Christ for salvation to experience eternal life. This happens best when your team of leaders is clear about why your ministry exists, what it’s focusing on, and who is responsible for what. When you have a rally cry to rely on, it helps everyone remember in the moment what to do and why.

I recently connected with the children’s ministry leaders at Salem Baptist Church in Dalton, Georgia ( through Awana. The clarity of their ministry vision inspired me and I couldn’t help but pass it along. Because their church is focused on sharing the Gospel and serving “others,” their children’s ministry is as well. They want to see “more others” loved into God’s family and came up with a way for everyone to remember their ministry rally cry using ABCD:

Essentially, these four areas give language to kids, families, and leaders that will result in focused action. They set priorities and make decisions based on ABCD. I love how any one of these four statements can serve as a rally cry to inspire hearts and focus action.

What’s Your Rally Cry?

Everyone needs to know what matters most to you and the ministry for the foreseeable future. If you want a team of united children’s ministry leaders, you need to clarify your rally cry. The kids and families you serve deserve your focus. This can only happen if everyone is aware and on board with what matters most to you. My challenge is for you to wrestle with this, to get with God and people you trust, and figure it out. The benefits of having a clear rally cry as a Christ-centered children’s ministry can transform the lives of kids, families, and leaders in your care forever.

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