The weekend after our 10 Year Anniversary, I shared with our church that we want to leverage every ministry at our church to help accomplish this new vision. We want to leverage weekends, groups, youth ministry, children’s ministry, and everything else to help us see 1,000,000 become disciples in the next 10 years.
Then I told everybody, “That means things are going to change!”
What we were doing in the first 10 was great but it wasn’t going to take us to the million. We wanted to reevaluate everything we were doing in light of the new vision.
As you might imagine, not everyone likes change! When you announce that change is coming, some people think, “This is awesome! I love trying new things & taking new ground!” Whereas others probably think, “Oh gosh! I don’t want to change! I love what we’re doing now!”
I started having each staff member pray & ask the Lord this question: “Lord, how do you want me to leverage the ministry I lead to help accomplish the vision you’ve given us for the next 10 years?”
People started coming up with great ideas! We didn’t know if these ideas would be fruitful or not, but we said that we were willing to try anything. We knew we wouldn’t figure out how to best leverage each individual ministry area unless we took risks & tried new things.
We started asking the same question about our weekend services. How can we leverage the weekends to help us accomplish the vision of the next 10?
My guess is that weekends are probably people’s LEAST favorite thing to change – haha! Many people that grew up in American churches like the way American churches run their weekend services & they don’t like you messing with the format. Worship. Announcements. Sermon. Dismiss. If you mess with that, you’re messing with something people grew up with. But, of course, we weren’t going to keep doing something just because that’s the way it was when we grew up. We wanted to leverage the weekends in ANY way the Lord would lead us to.
Like I shared in the What is DMM? article, American “weekend services” are not very common in many of these movements around the world. Not everybody “does church” like the Americans do. I know that often comes as a surprise to us. As a result, I wasn’t sure exactly how to leverage an American weekend because there weren’t many movements around the world using those.
We needed the Lord to show us.
I remember getting on my knees one Saturday afternoon & saying to the Lord, “What do you want us to do on the weekends? We know that weekends aren’t essential in DMM because not many of these other movements have them, but could our weekends be helpful? We have many people coming already & it seems like we could leverage these to help with the vision. What do you want us to do? You’re our Senior Pastor & we want to hear from you!”
I really sensed the Lord put some things on my heart as I prayed, so I quickly grabbed a pen & began to write them down.
The first thing he brought to my mind was what I’ve heard over & over again the last 20 years. Henry Blackaby, author of Experiencing God, has said it & my Dad reminds me of it all the time.
Prayer & testimony are the fuel of revival.
If you study revival history, you’ll see that God has used prayer & testimony over & over again to set people ablaze.
A recent example would be the Asbury Revival of 1970 at Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky.
There were many professing Christians at that school but they weren’t on fire for God. They were lukewarm and living in sin. There was a general consensus among the students that they needed revival.
36 students joined together in an experiment. They covenanted for 30 days to spend 30 minutes with Jesus each morning. They would read & obey the Bible. They would pray. They would share their faith. They would meet once a week to keep each other accountable & to pray corporately.
They scheduled an all night prayer meeting the night before the experiment was over. When college students get together to pray all night rather than party all night, you know something is about to go down!
While they had planned to pray all night, at 2:30am someone said they believed God was going to visit them in their chapel service the next morning & they all needed to go home & get some sleep.
The next morning, Tuesday, February 3rd, they went expectantly to the chapel service at 10am.
The Dean of the college got up & was supposed to speak but instead shared his testimony & then opened up a mic & invited others to do the same.
5 minutes before the end of the chapel meeting, a philosophy professor told the Dean, “God is here. If you give an invitation, they’ll come.”
The Dean invited students forward to confess their sin & publicly recommit their lives to follow Jesus. A flood of students responded & came confessing theft, cheating, resentment, jealously, lust, worldly attitudes, prejudice, pride, hatred & other sins. Broken relationships were reconciled as students would go to one another & ask for forgiveness.
Many described this atmosphere by saying that it was like Jesus walked through the door of the auditorium and there was no where else anyone wanted to be.
The chapel service didn’t end that day at 11am like it was supposed to. It didn’t end at 2pm that day or 4pm that day. It didn’t even end late that night or the next morning. It lasted 158 hours straight and didn’t end until the following Tuesday.
Word spread quickly & people traveled from all over the country to witness this. People would arrive, sense the presence of God, confess their sin & recommit their lives to him.
This revival impacted cities all across the nation.
Here’s a must see video about that revival as told by the President of Asbury College at that time.
What was the fuel? Prayer & testimony!
I sensed the Lord saying that prayer & testimony should play a more prominent role in our weekend services in the next 10.
In the first 10 years, we mainly had songs, announcements & sermons like most American churches. But in the next 10, I knew God wanted us to spend even more time praying together & sharing testimonies of how he was working in our lives. In other words, I sensed God leading us to “open the mic.”
The second thing God brought to my mind is something I’ve heard about around the world but have never really seen modeled in the American church. It’s this.
Movements don’t happen unless people are reading, obeying & sharing the Word of God.
I feel like our church had the reading part down. We would read & teach from the Scriptures every weekend. But Jesus didn’t say just to teach people. Notice what he told his disciples.
Matthew 28:20 – “Teach these new disciples to obey…”
Don’t just teach them stuff. Teach them to obey the commands he’s given us. Teach them to literally follow Jesus! That involves OBEYING and SHARING, not just learning.
For most of us, when we think of teaching or sermons, we think of information transfer. A speaker gets up on stage & teaches us new stuff. We get bored when we’re not learning anything new. Pastors feel a lot of pressure to always come up with new things to teach. People demand new.
That’s not what Jesus said to do.
Jesus said to teach the new disciples to OBEY.
Obedience-based discipleship. That’s what they call it in these movements overseas.
The focus isn’t on information accumulation. The focus is on life transformation through OBEYING & following Jesus & SHARING about him with others.
In our context, the word “teaching” doesn’t have the connotation of obedience at all. A better word perhaps, if we’re wanting to communicate that we desire to “teach to obey,” is the word “train.”
Training implies obedience or application.
Think about job training. That’s teaching to obey. You’re watching somebody do something that you’re eventually going to have to do yourself. Usually it’s not in lecture format. Lecture format doesn’t tend to produce application like being with a mentor, watching them do it, and then letting them watch you & correct you along the way.
I felt like the Lord wanted us to focus more on teaching to obey, or training, in the next 10, not just teaching for information transfer.
I’ve asked friends in these movements around the world, “What’s different between our churches & your churches?” One of the things they say over & over again is, “You guys focus on knowledge. We focus on obedience.” They call what we do “knowledge-based discipleship” & what they do “obedience-based discipleship.” That stung a little, but I knew it was true.
In case that stings a little too much & you resist that characterization, I’d encourage you to think about this.
In the American church, how do we decide when to move on to the next sermon or the next Bible study lesson? We move on once we’ve heard it, read it, or learned it, regardless of whether we’ve obeyed it. In fact, we’d be insulted if we showed up to church & the pastor preached the same sermon he preached last weekend because we didn’t obey it. Or if we showed up to Bible study & the leader said you were repeating the lesson from last week because you didn’t obey it. Obeying is not the goal. We move on once we’ve learned. That’s called knowledge-based discipleship.
But in many of these churches overseas, guess how they decide when to move on? When they’ve obeyed it! In fact, they will often repeat the same sermon, Bible study lesson, or teaching until they’ve obeyed it.
One of our friends, who is a leader in a movement that has reached millions, said their motto is, “Learn one thing. Do one thing.” Then they move on. That’s always stuck with me. They don’t learn the 2nd thing until they’ve done the 1st thing. They don’t move on until they’ve obeyed. That’s obedience-based discipleship.
Prayer. Testimony. Training.
As I was praying that day about how to leverage our weekends, those were 3 of the things I sensed the Lord saying to me. Since then, each week the Campus Pastors design their weekend services around those 3 things.
It’s definitely different than the first 10, but it’s going to take something different to reach a million.
Part 8 – Where’s Chris?