Model #2: Life Transformation Groups

  Life Transformation Groups are hot!  You’ll be hard pressed to find another discipleship model that is growing faster in popularity.  Neil Cole, founder of the LTG concept, says national and international use has exceeded his ability to track. 

Each LTG meets weekly with two-three same sex friends.  Adding a fourth is okay for a short while before multiplying the group.  Each LTG participant caries a pamphlet outlining a ritual discussion consisting of:  

  1. Character Confession –Ten predefined accountability questions covering integrity, sexuality, generosity, etc… are discussed to keep each other’s character in line.
  2. Scripture Reading The group agrees to read and discus 25-30 chapters of the Bible each week. If one participant fails to read it all, they all re-read it for next week.
  3. Outreach Prayer Each participant prays for 2-3 people who do not know Jesus using ten proscribed Biblical texts. 

Upon request, you could preview a pdf version of the LTG pamphlet I have on file from when Cole posted it free of charge.  If you would like multiple copies however, you ought to buy them here

Praises: LTG’s are Simple, Intense, and Well Balanced between Outreach and Discipleship.  I love the simple clarity of direction that would be supplied by carrying a short written ritual for every gathering.

Critique: I don’t think accountability gets us as far Cole supposes.  LTG questions suggest that discipleship is primarily about not doing things you are not supposed to do.  Discipleship certainly requires dying before living, but as far a as weekly model is concerned, I think we need something that constructs more than deconstructs. 

22 responses to “Model #2: Life Transformation Groups

  1. melissahofmeister

    I think character, scripture, and outreach/prayer are great categories to focus on, however I think this model is too ridged. There are seasons in life that will lend to more focused character development (patience needed as a nursing mother!) rather than 30 chapters of bible reading (Some days I’m happy when I get to meditate on a verse!)

    I’d like to see a more encouraging approach!

  2. Melissa,
    I agree! I also think that the LTG model is too ridged. Comparing the Xenos Model and the LTG groups, it seems as if Xenos has at least landed on a flexible model that relies on RELATIONSHIP. It stymies me that the LTG model is growing as rapidly as purported since I can’t quite see the relationship, love, or grace in this style–all of which Christ himself personified in his ministry. Perhaps I’ll have to become more familiar with how the groups operate, but right now it only seems like a system of rules, regulations, routines and rituals and NOT of love.
    Maybe for some the idea of simplicity and intensity helps to keep them grounded and accountable–but to whom? To what?
    Are these groups truly changing people’s hearts, or just their behavior?

  3. I agree with Melissa that an LTG group may not be for everyone. However, for those willing to get together to review and discuss the Bible, pray for those in their sphere of influence that need Jesus, and confess their failures with an accountability partner, I think it has alot of promise. I believe that confession and accountability are a great way for us to examine ourselves and to grow to become more like Jesus.

    Now, without relationship, love and grace, this model will surely fail; but I don’t believe that people will meet with someone who lacks love and grace.

    What if we took the prayer and accountability from this model and allowed the group to study the Bible in the manner they enjoyed. It could be moving through a written study, watching a small group video or simply reading and discussing the Bible as with the LTG model. With a mixed group of men and women, at the end of the study the group could separate into same sex groups for their accountability time.

    I believe that having a group that supports you in your failures, that loves you even when you mess up, can be very supportive. This could break the myth that “they won’t like me if they know that I …”.

  4. Interesting modification caldrich4. I agree with rjulke that we have to be concerned about behaviorism in this model, but starting the gatherings on the relational side of things may correct this. Maybe we could also re-work the accountability into a positive direction of what should be done, as opposed to what should not.

  5. I think the appeal here for some is the feeling of doing something. This approach/model has the smell of legalism to me. Please don’t misinterpret that, I am not saying it is legalistic or that the intent is such. However, it can easily slip into that mindset. That is what is appealing in that we get our checklist and feel good about marking off Character attributes, our Bible reading, and prayer.

    Changing behavior is actually our goal. Changed lives that look more like Christ. However, changing for the wrong reasons can lead to pride.

    I don’t like this model for the same reasons many have cited. It is too rigid as laid out. As caldrich4 pointed out some of the aspects could be blended with other models to provide the positives of this approach with the relational balance of the others (Xenos Four Square).

  6. I love the idea of reworking the accountability element into positive statements rather than negative.

    We are a small church plant in Milwaukee, WI. We are going in a LTG direction. The strength for us is the simple development process. Find a friend and start the process. There is no curriculum or leader to train, Just do it.

    I have thought about the legalistic tendencies of this as well. I don’t want it to be about getting through the form of a LTG. I mostly love the idea of building a church where it seems normal to a new believer that people read 30 or so chapters a week, confess sins, and pray for not yet followers of Jesus. That is going to do more for them then any book, DVD, or curriculum I know of.

    I think the Sunday gathering is also crucial to this process. Because those 30 chapters have to go through a filter. After reading 30 chapters some people want to love their neighbor and love God more some people might want to picket a gay bookstore. So I think the outside teaching is crucial in this strategy.

    Our first plan was a psuto house church within the greater church. A strong element of that was service. So we are going to have service cells along with the LTG. So your LTG joins one of these service cells that happen once a month throughout our neighborhood. SO there you get some interaction with a medium group and interaction with other gender.

    That’s my two cents.

  7. Tim,

    I do like that the LTG’s work without “expereinced” leaders. Models should be easy, usable by everyone, but the discipleship should be challenging, keep you busy for a lift time.

    It’s beautiful to hear what you guys are tryingout there in Bay View. May God bless you innovation.

  8. Brian,
    I’ve been looking all over the place for a sample of the LTG pamphlet. Our church staff is ordering some, but I wanted to show some neighbors before they come in. Do you still have that .pdf?

  9. I have been using LTG’s for a year and they are excellent. I have 4 of them that I am meeting in throughout the week. As far as your critique, I think a person should also be invovled in a small group community of believers in addition to meeting in an LTG. As Neil Cole says, we should lower the bar own how we do church and raise the bar on what it means to be a disciple.

  10. Jerry, It’s great to hear from someone with first hand experience that LTG’s supply a lot of value.

  11. There seems to be a great deal of comment about the pros and cons of LTGs. My only hope is that all these comments come from having been a part of an LTG. Sure your concerns are valid…assuming that is what you have expereinced. But for me, the comments dont reconcile with my experience of being in serveral LTGs. All I can say is that I am more in love with Jesus than ever, and he is changing me from the inside out through the power of the word through community and in prayer. We in the west balk at commitment and spiritual disciplines and love to talk about how they can be perverted. LTG’s are not perfect nor are they the solution to all the worlds issues. BUT they seem to be an environment where people rediscover their first love.
    All I know is that I am all to quick to judge something ‘new’ a long time before it occurs to me that the merit may only be found in participating in it…?

  12. Craig,
    Thanks for sharing some comments from your personal experience. There’s no don’t in my mind that LTG’s are fantastic and life-changing for anyone who commits to it. With many approaches to discipleship on the table, we’re all trying to evaluate the possibilities as outsiders looking in.

  13. nascentchristianity

    LTG’s are fine. But they are not discipleship, atleast not the discipleship of the first century. Reading the Bible, personal accountability and prayer were done by the first disciples, yes. But it was so much more than that. I guess my only real problem with LTG’s is that people present LTG’s as discipleship. And first century discipleship was very different than what was done in LTG’s. In fact, I would say that LTG’s would be a decent precursor to discipleship. Being obedient to Jesus’ command known as the Great Commission requires that one understand what He meant when He said go and make disciples. And “disciples” had a very specific meaning when He spoke the term. Reinventing, or ignoring what that term meant then is at least arrogant. Maybe worse. Anyone can look up my blogs if they like.

    • Dude, I don’t mean to be rude by LTG’s are discipleship and you sound like someone who has never been in one. From personal experience I can tell you I have grown more personally, seen more transformation and have seen lost friends come to Christ through these. You really need to do one before you critique. God’s Word and the Holy Spirit drive these toward discipleship that multiplies because there is nothing be added to God’s Word and no “expert” getting in the way of the Holy Spirit. Oh and I have only been at it for about 5 months.

      • In 5 months I am on the 3rd generation.

      • There are also those that have stated 25-30 chapters is too much to read in a week. I work somewhere in the ball park of 65 hours a week. Planting a church, substitute teaching, and working at a Group Home for mentally ill people. I also have 4 children. Reading 25-30 chapters a week takes 15-20 minutes a day. It is a matter of priorities. We make time for what is important.

    • So, nascentchristianity, perhaps it would help if you would define “discipleship” for us?

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  15. Thanks Ravi! God’s best for you as well!

  16. I have been involved in a few LTG’s over the years and it’s funny that people think you will fall into legalism or that they are too rigid. I think when you dive fully into the Word of God, with brothers and are praying for others great things happen.

  17. Right there with you Buddy. Discipleship needs some sort of form and structure to it. There’s always the risk of following a structure and not the God it connects with, but the fault in that lies on us, rather than the model.

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