1. Step One: Pray and ask the Lord whom you should invite to join you in an LTG. Wait on the Lord to answer you as you consider the people you know. Find another person who has a hunger for more of God in his or her life. The groups are not mixed-gender, so consider those of your own gender.
2. Step Two: Once you determine whom the Lord is leading you to invite, go to the person and invite them. For those who don't know how to do that, here is how I suggest you do it. Begin saying you believe the Lord is leading you to invite them to a "discipleship relationship." Be sure and smile as you open the topic. Explain that it involves reading lots of Scripture, praying for the lost, and meeting together once per week for an hour. Explain that neither of you will be the leader or teacher, but that you will be coequals. Explain that the group is limited to two or three people of the same gender, so it will always remain small, but new groups can be started as more people want to join. Explain that you would like them to read the article, Life Transformation Groups, and pray for a week or two about whether the Lord wants them to join you in one of these groups. Ask them to get back to you afterward and let you know if this is what the Lord wants them to do. Be sure and ask them to pray first about it, even if they seem sure immediately that this is what they want to do.
3. Step Three: After a couple weeks, if the person has not yet gotten back to you with a response to your invitation, ask them if they have a sense from the Lord yet whether or not this is what He would have them do. If they say they have not, tell them to pray about it for another week, but that you do need a response, so you know whether they will join you, because you would like to start as soon as possible.
If you receive a negative response from the person you invited, then thank them for praying about it, and move on to inviting someone else by following these same three steps. If you receive an affirmative response from the person you invited, then proceed to step four below.
By the way, you can invite a second person, following steps one to three above before you have received a response from this person. But do not invite more than two at a time, because the group is limited to three people. I recommend inviting one person at a time, and keeping it simple, but feel free to invite two at a time, if the Lord leads you that way. Starting off with just you and one other person in the group initially has many advantages to it, and you can always invite another person to join the group once you two get started. If you invite two people at once, you should probably wait for both to decide whether to join before you get started, unless one person is taking longer than three weeks to decide, and the second person has already indicated they would like to join you. The reason is that you need to move forward with starting the group, and if a person really wants to do this, they will not take very long to decide.
4. Step Four: Decide together with the person who has agreed to be your LTG partner which day of the week you will meet for at least an hour, as well as the time and place where you will meet. You do not have to meet at the same place every week. It can be in a home, church, office, or food court in a mall for example. The main thing is that it is conveniently accessible to all members of the group, and it affords enough privacy to speak confidentially to each other. Once you have decided when and where to meet, proceed to step five.
5. Step Five: Decide together with your new LTG partner which passage of the Bible to read before your first meeting. Pick a passage of 25 to 30 chapters in the New Testament initially, and I recommend staying in this part of the Bible for the first year. You could choose a book like Matthew, which is 28 chapters. Or you could choose to read Galatians five times for a total of thirty chapters. Each member of the LTG should individually and privately read the same passage of Scripture that you agreed upon together in step five. You do this throughout the week during your own personal devotions with God.
6. Step Six: Print out a copy of the five questions that will be used in your first meeting, as listed in the article Life Transformation Groups, or write them down. You may also order LTG cards from Church Multiplication Associates (CMA). As you go through your week, you will make notes to yourself, so that you can answer the questions when you meet together for your LTG meeting.
7. Step Seven: Meet together for the first time at the appointed place and time. Begin with a word of prayer, and then decide who will go first in answering the five questions. Remind your partner that any sins you confess to each other in the group must remain confidential between the two of you. One person can then ask the other each of the five questions, while the other person answers them. Afterward, trade places and the other person now gets to answer the questions.
8. Step Eight: During your first meeting, ask your partner(s) to decide on two people they know that they would like you both to be praying for to come to Christ. I suggest you ask them to pick two people who are not in Christ and who would be strategically influential, if they came to Christ. They should be prepared to give you the names of these two people the next time you meet. Once they give you the two names, you should both write down the names. Likewise, you should give them the names of the two people you would like them to join you in praying for.
9. Step Nine: If everyone in the group has finished reading the agreed upon passage of Scripture, then do step five again before you end the meeting with prayer, so you know what to read before your next meeting. If any one person did not finish the reading, then everyone knows they must re-read the entire passage, even if they have already finished it.
These are the basic steps to starting an LTG, and once you have started one, you can invite a third group member, if you don't already have one.
Dealing with Issues
If your LTG partner is consistently not reading the Scripture passage you have agreed upon, or not coming to the meetings, or not submitting to the LTG process in any particular way, then you need to speak to them privately. I suggest you let them know that you would be glad to continue meeting with them for discipleship as long as they are willing to submit to the LTG process. But remind them that there are two criteria for being in an LTG: 1) a hunger for more of God in his or her life, and 2) a willingness to submit to the LTG process. Remind them that when you first asked them to pray about joining you in an LTG, they said they felt led by the Lord to join, but lately they do not seem to be submitting to the process. You might consider asking them to pray for two weeks about whether they still feel led to continue to meet with you for discipleship, and ask them to let you know. If after praying, they decide they no longer want to continue, then let them go, and you will need to find someone else. If they want to continue meeting, just be lovingly firm with them that you will be expecting them to submit to the process.
I hope this has helped you understand better how to get your LTG started and how to deal with issues that may arise.
Attribution: Life Transformation Groups by Neil Cole © 2000. For more information about Life Transformations Groups and other strategic resources visit Church Multiplication Associates (CMA). By the way, CMA has LTG cards containing the explanation of an LTG and the five questions, which you can order from them online. I recommend getting the blue cards with the five questions, rather than the red ones.Butterfly photo by my fifteen year old daughter H.R. Lacroix.
Author's Note: If you would like to become a disciple who makes disciples, please prayerfully consider enrolling in Doulos Training School, our international, distance education ministry. I also recommend reading Life Transformation Groups, The Difference Between a Disciple and a Believer, The Cost of Discipleship, and Multiplication. You are invited to visit the Home page of this blog, and also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."
Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International. He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org. Partner with us online by giving to DMI.