by Todd Engstrom and Jon Dansby
Life Transformation Groups (LTG)
I recently did a blog series taking a brief look at missional community as we envision it at The Austin Stone. In case you missed the series:
We began answering the question, “What do missional communities do?” We noted that our practices need to serve three areas of growth:
1. Our outward life
2. Our inward life
3. Our communal life
As we follow Jesus, we need to grow in all three areas, and these practices are tools to that end.
The first practice is called Third Place and it serves the outward life of Christlikeness, pursuing those who are far from God. Our second practice serves our inward life and is called Life Transformation Group.
“Where do we go deep?”
This is a common question when we start describing the MC practices. Most American Christians are used to weeknight Bible studies being the place where we try to dive deeply into the Bible together. There are a few serious limitations to this practice:
1. It’s easy to let this be our only time of Bible study and even allow others to do our Bible-thinking for us. We become overly dependent rather than becoming self-feeders in God’s Word.
2. In large groups, studying the Bible often feels like you’ve obeyed it. Knowledge is not necessarily obedience, however, and we need specific accountability to help our hands obey what our head and hearts know.
3. The group is too large for intimate confession and correction.
4. There isn’t enough time to cover everything each person needs to hear and say.
The Bible, our personal holiness and our mission are critically important and deserve much more attention. LTGs are where we go deep, raising the bar of personally following Jesus.
What is an LTG?
LTGs are simple. There are only three parts to remember:
1. Hear & Obey—Everyone shares what they have heard from God in the 15-30 chapters of Scripture we agreed to read together over the past week and how they obeyed. We suggest using the REAP reading plan.
2. Repent & Believe—We each repent of our sin, sharing how you have sinned against God this past week. Don’t forget to spend time speaking out loud, to yourself and to one another, the good news of Jesus’ work for us; this enables us to believe.
3. Pray for Unbelievers—Talk about how you’ve been praying for your unbelieving friends and mention them by name. Explain your plan to weave them into your community.
LTGs are simple, but they’re also hard. They take discipline. LTGs are for people who love Jesus and seriously want to move forward in repentance, faith and joyful obedience.
Keep the group size small for intimacy and time—two or three people of the same gender. Once it grows past three, you multiply. You should be able to finish your meeting within an hour or so. LTGs need to meet separately from your MC’s family meeting. As LTGs are taking off in many missional communities, we’ve found that our love for the gospel grows, and our obedience to Jesus in mission grows as well.