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Life Transformation Group Questions- An Email Dialogue with Neil Cole

The following is an email correspondence where Neil Cole tackles some great questions about Life Transformation Groups (LTG).

Dear Neil,

I'm just beginning a Life Transformation Group.  We started about 4 weeks ago.  I love it! 

I'm curious if you have any more understanding on how effective they are for evangelism - ie.  do people really come to Christ when they are in an LTG with other believers?  Also, how helpful have they been in lowering the bar in leadership training in prep for other roles ie. Small group leadership? How have you found the transition from LTG to small group apprenticeship/leadership been?  Is there futher intermediate steps needed?

Blessings,

Mike
>>>>>>>>

Dear Mike,

I am always excited to hear of people being blessed by the LTG's. Actually, as I'm sure you can testify, it is God's word and the community one experiences that truly bless us when we're in an LTG--just wanted to let you know that I knew that.

First you asked, "I'm curious if you have any more understanding on how effective they are for evangelism - ie.  do people really come to Christ when they are in an LTG with other believers?" Yes. people do come to Christ in LTGs. However, LTGs are no substitute for infiltrating lost communities and being a viable witness in the dark world.

LTG Triangle

Here is how people come to Christ with LTGs: Remember the criteria for involvement in an LTG? There are only two: 1) a desperate need for Christ and 2) remaining faithful to the process. When a person who is not a believer knows that they need something to heal their lives, and they are desperate enough to try anything, an LTG will allow them to encounter Christ in a very powerful and real way. This is one way lost people come to Christ in an LTG.

According to George Barna 50% of those who attend a protestant church on any Sunday are not actually saved (wow!). Many churches are full of believing unbelievers--in other words, they believe with their heads but don't follow with their hearts and lives. An LTG is often a means of transforming these fruitless lives. This is as much a conversion as someone who claims to not know Christ. The transformation is just as powerful.

A third way that LTG's work to see souls saved is by subtley yet effectively getting the participants to reach out to friends, neighbors, loved ones and associates with the gospel and prayer.

Inspite of these ways of evangelism, LTGs work MOST effectively as a means of spiritual formation and should not be considered as a churches entire outreach strategy. When a church does have LTG's we have been finding that more conversions take place--partly because people are empowered as vital witnesses and partly because the church has wine skins for the new wine (production capacity).

Second, you asked, "...how helpful have they been in lowering the bar in leadership training in prep for other roles ie. Small group leadership? How have you found the transition from LTG to small group apprenticeship/leadership been?  Is there futher intermediate steps needed?"

The LTG is very helpful at lowering the bar of ministry!!!! First, I'd like to say that the greatest ministry any of us can be about doing is making and multiplying disciples! The Great Commission is the best ministry to get people involved in and should never be considered optional to any. For obvious reasons an LTG is helpful in this.

The problem is that for so long the Great Commission has been considered optional and thus we have entire churches uninvolved in it. In fact, according to Barna, the average church sees only one conversion per year! That means that more than half see zero!!! We have found ourselves in the place where Christian leaders are totally without any witness whatsoever! So, you ask, is an LTG good to get people started in ministry? Yes, including those who make a living in "ministry".

If you have LTGs functioning in a church you can actually be assured that your developing leaders know how to witness and make disciples. That alone is valuable to transform an entire generation of church. In our church movement an LTG is a first step for any and all leaders. We don't want to have leaders who can't obey the Great Commission and we want to know that all our leaders are accountable to others for their own spiritual growth. Imagine if every leader, every missionary, every pastor, denominational leader, worship leader, youth pastor and intern were in an LTG. You can see how an entire church would be transformed that way.

But LTGs also allow a developing pool of growing disciples, some of whom have leadership gifts which will rise to the top. You don't even have to find them, they will find you. They will let you know, via passion and behavior, that they are leaders. You will notice that they have a developing following, a clear sign of a developing leader.

What I have found is needed most to transition someone from multiplying LTGs to multiplying small groups is simply a release of control and a blessing to get one started. Usually, they come to me and ask, "What can I do for the Lord and His church?" I usually say, "Why don't you start an evangelistic home group?" If they can pull that off, they have a leadership gift.

LTG Card

It is important to have a transferable methodology that is both simple and effective at the small group level as well as the disciple making level. We have discovered a way that seems to be working. We have the point person find a place where lost people hang out. We have them go there, praying and getting to know the lost people. (of course this is assuming that we start with people who have known the Lord for a time. We are now to the point that we will be starting these groups with people who have come to Christ recently and thus are already connected in the lost community and thus have strong ties to lost people already--far more effective!). Once relationship is built, we have them invite lost friends to their home for a church meeting. At the meeting they worship, share/pray, and then for a study they look each week at the seven signs of the gospel of John (a different sign each week). John wrote, "Many other signs Jesus did, but these I chose that you may believe and believeing have eternal life." The how to's are simple. They read the passage and the emerging leader asks three questions to generate discussion: 1) What does this story tell us about human nature? 2) What does this story tell us about human need? 3) What does this story tell us about Jesus? Using this simple method, in conjunction with LTGs we have yet to get through all seven miracles without seeing several conversions, a baptism service and birthing a second house church. We will probably experience that soon, but since we began we haven't.

This simple method gives the Lord ample opportunity to demionstrate the leadership capability in a new and emerging leader. After that (i.e. once he/she has followers) personal one on one mentoring is needed (biweekly). Raising Leaders explains how this can happen in a way that produces multiplication in chapters 4 and 5.

Leadership will come forward and all you need to do is watch and pray for it and then have a system in place which allows the emerging leader to develop and multiply.

I hope this helps. I tried to be thorough.

Pressing on,

Neil

 


See also the article: The Secret Source of Unlimited Leaders by Neil Cole
Intro to Life Transformation Groups | Audio
Audio Presentation on Life Transformation Groups

The Life Transformation Groups System
Life Transformation Group Cards

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