I’m sitting at Starbucks waiting for my formation group participants to arrive and I’ve been reading a book called Transforming Discipleship by Greg Ogden. Ogden developed a method of training disciples to grow to maturity that focuses on gender specific groups of 3-4 who gather weekly for encouragement, accountability, and study of God’s word. I have been part of a similar experience for the past several months developed by a church planter named Neil Cole that he calls Life Transformation Groups. I have become a big fan of these kinds of intentional discipling relationships. At Storyline, we call these formation groups. My formation group, built on Cole’s model, meets weekly to confess sin, talk about scripture, and pray for lost people. We have a list of challenging questions that we ask each other, a commitment to read the same 25-30 chapters of scripture together during the week, and we pray for several of our friends who are disconnected from God and/or Christian community.
One of the brilliant strategies of this kind of group is the ease of reproduction. There is really no leader for the group. Each participant has a copy of the questions and they take turns asking and receiving confession and praying for the confessor. The portion of scripture is agreed upon by the group and they simply talk about what they heard from God during the week. There is no specific training required other than to invite someone to come and see how it works. When a fourth person gets interested and comes 3-4 weeks in a row, the group of 4 hives off into 2 and those groups begin looking for a third person and then a fourth and the cycle continues.
I think this system makes good sense and has a lot going for it in theory. But I am mostly a fan because of the way I have seen God work to form my life and heart as I have confessed my sins, plunged myself into scripture, and been intentional about praying for lost people. I am following Jesus closer and seeing my own faith grow as a result. And it doesn’t hurt that our group that started just several months ago has already multiplied once and my new group has already added its third participant and is starting to look for a fourth!