Weekend Planning


Prayer. Testimony. Training.

Those are the 3 primary elements in our new weekends that are leveraged for DMM. I’d encourage you to read the Leverage article to understand why we revolve our services around those elements.

I wanted to take a few minutes to explain what that looks like practically.

Two weekends ago was, in my opinion, our most powerful weekend of the year. I want to share how it all came together.

Each campus plans their service independently, so I’ll share how our Southwest Campus planned their service that weekend.

Typically, our Southwest Campus will meet on Tuesdays to plan the following weekend. Because we’re trying to “multiply extraordinary prayer” as we raise DMM sails for movement, they’ll spend the first hour of their meeting in prayer. They’ll ask God to guide the preparation of the service & to move powerfully that weekend (Acts 4:31).

After praying, they’ll start to talk about the upcoming weekend.

We usually provide the “training” part of the weekend centrally. Meaning, our central staff have planned the series & the speakers weeks ahead of time. Right now we’re going through the Book of Acts as a church. We wanted to spend a lot of time in Acts in this season because Acts describes what we’re hoping happens in our church & in our region.

One of my DMM Coaches said, “When people ask what DMM is, I basically tell them that we’re asking God that the Book of Acts would happen again in our day!” People seem to understand that. Acts is the powerful story of the early church & the rapid advancement of the gospel.

Our Southwest Campus Team knew that Ty, our Abernathy Campus Pastor, was doing the “training” that weekend on Acts 5:12-16.

If you’re wondering why I’m calling it a “training” rather than a “sermon,” see the Leverage post.

Ty had several weeks in which to prepare his training on that Scripture passage. Each of our “trainings” revolve around the DBS questions now. This is common in movements around the world that have a “training” element in their gatherings. Meaning, as the speakers prepare their outlines, the sections usually look like this:

  • Introduction
  • Read the Passage
  • Retell the Passage
  • What does it teach us about God?
  • What does it teach us about people?
  • What should we obey in response?
  • Who should we share with?
  • Personal Story of obeying/sharing the Passage
  • Conclusion

By formatting the “training” this way, it keeps the Discovery Bible Study (DBS) process in front of our church. Not only are we focusing on reading, obeying & sharing in small groups, we’re also focusing on that when we get together in a larger group. The “training” shouldn’t be about knowledge acquisition but about hearing & immediately obeying the Word of God.

Because we’re emphasizing immediate obedience, we keep the “trainings” relatively short. Typically they run about 10-12 minutes.

In the first 10 years of eLife, the “sermon” could be anywhere from 30-35 minutes. That’s because it was primarily focused on knowledge acquisition. When we transitioned to DMM, we moved to an immediate obedience focus. The “trainings” needed to be shorter because the longer you go, the more difficult you make it for people to obey.

Think about it like this.

Imagine you’re starting a new job & your boss is training you how to use the company’s proprietary software. If he/she gives you a 30 minute presentation of all the ins/outs of the software & then expects you to be able to do everything he/she said afterwards, you’d think they were crazy. That’d be way too overwhelming. Information overload.

Rather, you’d expect a good boss/trainer to show you one or two things & then let you give it a try & ask questions along the way until you get it. The MAWL approach. Model. Assist. Watch. Launch.

If they just dump a bunch of information on you, they’re setting you up to fail if the goal is for you to implement it. Now, if the goal isn’t to implement it but just to be fascinated by it, they can talk as long as they want & it won’t matter. You’re not expected to do anything with it.

See where I’m going?

When “sermons” go on & on, it must be because the preacher is not expecting you to implement it, just be fascinated by it. And in my opinion, that’s the modern American sermon. Preachers wonder why people aren’t living out or applying what they’re preaching. It’s because the whole format of a lecture/sermon is built to transfer information, not help people obey. Remember, Jesus said we’re supposed to “teach people to obey,” not just be fascinated or intrigued (Matt 28:20).

If a preacher wants you to really implement what he/she is teaching, they’ll briefly tell you one thing to focus on & then spend the rest of the time helping you implement it. That’s what we’re doing in the next 10 years & that’s why the “trainings” are shorter. They’re aimed at obedience, not knowledge acquisition.

As Ty prepares his message, he’ll make sure that after he briefly talks about what he “discovered” in the passage, he gives a strong challenge to OBEY & SHARE. These are two of the key elements at the heart of DMM that we often miss in the American church.

When Ty got up to train that weekend, he gave a brief introduction, read his passage, retold his passage in his own words, shared some things he learned about God & people & then gave us a challenge to immediately obey & share what we learned.

Acts 5:12-16 talks about how the apostles were performing miracles among the people & the people were being drawn to Jesus.

Ty’s challenges for the week were:
OBEY: Go out among the lost for 1 hour this week.

SHARE: Pray for someone who needs healing & share Acts 5:12-16 with them.

As you can see, an emphasis on immediate obedience & sharing.

Jerry Trousdale, author of Miraculous Movements, confirms the importance of this emphasis when he wrote:

Today, the church has put a lot of focus on knowledge, while obedience is assumed instead of being stressed as the very purpose of all knowledge. By so doing, we have created weak Christians and weak local churches. The worldwide phenomenon of “one mile wide and one inch deep Christianity” in the church is a direct result of a focus on knowledge rather than knowledge and obedience. Discipleship is not a matter of knowledge alone; it is equally a matter of obedience. The Bible is not a collection of information to be used to increase our knowledge; it is a collection of truths to be obeyed.

The Southwest Campus Team had this training from Ty when they arrived to their meeting on Tuesday & began to build their service around it.

They planned for the service to start off with a song followed by Tannon, our Youth Pastor, welcoming everyone & casting vision for what we were doing that day.

After that, Ty was going to come up for 10-12 minutes for his training.

Then they had planned a 10 minute testimony time after the message that Hillary, our Associate Campus Director, would lead. Testimonies are one of the major elements in our weekends now. During this testimony section, the Southwest Campus Team decided to give people the opportunity to come up to an “open mic” and share stories of how God has healed them or healed someone they knew. This went along with what Ty had talked about in the message.

This could give the congregation greater confidence in obeying the challenge because, as they pray for people, they remember that God still answers prayer. They had just heard many answers to prayer during the testimony section the previous weekend.

This further helps to drive home the training Ty did & would end up being much more effective in implementing it than if he had just kept transferring information for another 20 minutes.

After people shared testimonies of healing for awhile, the team planned to have a 10 minute prayer time. They would invite people in the room that were in need of healing to stand up & then others would gather around them, place a hand on their shoulder & pray for them. It’s almost like practicing Ty’s challenge before they even leave the room. The team was preparing them to pray for people by showing them how to do it right then & there. Powerful!

Following this section, the team planned to have a worship set with a gospel presentation in between the songs to invite people to commit their lives to Christ there on the spot that day. Another act of immediate obedience.

I’d like to draw your attention to a couple of things here.

First, notice how many people are involved. As I talked about in the “Where’s Chris?” article, it has been a value of ours in this new decade to have many people using their gifts during the service, not one or two. In the first 10 years, and in most churches, you have a preacher & a worship leader that use their gifts during the service & that’s about it. Whereas it seems like in the gatherings of the New Testament church, many were participating. We wanted to make that change. If you come to our church now, you’ll see many people coming on up on stage to pray, share a testimony, or train.

Second, notice that the testimony & prayer sections are very interactive. People come to the front to share. People stand for prayer. Others gather around them. In the first 10 years, the congregation would basically sit through the service. In our new decade, we’re encouraging everyone to get involved. We want our services to be highly participatory, much like the early church services described in 1 Corinthians 14.

Third, the prayer section & testimony section serve to really emphasize the challenge of the message & prepare people to obey & share. Typically you don’t have time for an extended prayer & testimony section in a service because the “sermon” is so long, but we’ve found that prayer & testimony make it much more likely people will actually obey & share the training rather than just listen & be intrigued by it.

Fourth, while our services revolve around prayer, testimony & training each weekend, the format is different every weekend. Each Campus Team is welcome to format their weekend service in the way they think would be most powerful to the people that attend their campus. Believe it or not, sometimes we’ll only stay in the building for 10 minutes or so & then dismiss everyone to leave & immediately go and implement the training. We did that a few weeks ago when we talked about prayer walking. We trained on it for a few minutes & then sent everyone out to prayer walk their neighborhoods with their family. So powerful & so many families had never had that experience together before!

To summarize, we TRAIN people to obey & share the Word of God & then we PRAY that God would help us to do this & share TESTIMONY of how it’s happening in our lives. We believe this is the best way we’ve found to “teach people to obey” like Jesus told us to do in the Great Commission.

I attended the Worship Gathering I described above with my family, and like I said at the beginning, it was one of the most powerful meetings of the entire year.

Hearing Ty passionately lead us to obey the Word of God was moving! Seeing people come up & share testimonies in tears of God healing them was so powerful! Watching my daughters lay hands on people sitting around us & pray for them to be healed was breathtaking! How did we miss this all these years? It’s amazing when everyone participates when the church gets together!

It felt like Acts 4:31 which says, “After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness.”

We are praying that every weekend our services would feel like Acts 4:31. And notice what happened before the meeting place shook.

“After this prayer…” They prayed.

Prayer. Testimony. Training.
Prayer & testimony have been instrumental in revivals of the past time & time again! Why aren’t they more prominent in our worship services?

Revive us again, Lord!