Austin Stone is a church that comes up on this blog every once in a while because they have been leading the way in many missional practices. And it’s clear that we can TEACH persons until we’re blue in the face. We can TELL them all about Jesus and read from the Bible to them. We can see if they BELIEVE certain basics of the Christian faith. But, really, those are not discipleship. Discipleship is following in the way of Jesus. It’s about practice.
At Austin Stone, the primary location for this is in Life Transformation Groups. Here’s how Todd Engstrom says it:
Obedience, for us, is being serious about obeying God’s word personally.
Going deeper happens with individual accountability to being a disciple. We tried a bunch of names for these kind of gatherings, but they all sound weird.
Finally, we just decided we’d stick with life transformation groups, or LTGs for short. Neil Cole just unpacked them for us, and to be honest, he got it right!
An LTG is a smaller group of two or three believers of the same gender that commit to meeting outside of the group meeting time. This is the place to study the Bible deeply and to be known deeply by another.
There are three primary elements to this kind of group:
First, we want to Hear and Obey – we want to read God’s word every day, and be held accountable to what we need to DO in response
Second, we want to Repent and Believe – we want to confess and repent of our sin and disobedience. Second, we’re going to remind one another to believe the good news of Christ’s perfect life, his atoning death, and his resurrection.
Third, we want to Consider and Pray – we want to consider opportunities we have to share the gospel, and then pray by name individual people, not just generic groups.
You will notice that there really isn’t a “missional” component to the LTGs as part as “going out.” But that third section, “Consider and Pray,” is the first step in being able to go out and take the gospel to folks. However, one could argue that each of these steps is necessary before anyone is “missional.” It is laying the foundation.