If you are looking for a fresh idea on discipleship, Neil Cole’s book “Search and Rescue” might be just what you are looking for. Cole’s book highlights his primary method of Christian discipleship called “Life Transformation Groups” or LTG’s for short. These groups of 2 to 3 people meet weekly for 3 simple practices. These include: reading scripture, confession of sin, and praying for the lost. Groups meet to ask each other accountability questions of their choosing and to discuss the reading for that week (30+ chapters of bible reading per week!) They then close with prayer for the lost friends and family that are on each person’s prayer card. That’s a simplistic view of the LTG but it’s the heart of the group. When a group grows to 4 or more (sometimes even 3 people), they are encouraged to branch off another group and continue the process. Cole advises that due to the nature of the group’s goals, small is better.
There’s a lot of material in this book. Nearly 2/3 of the content is Cole breaking down the biblical book of Second Timothy as a means of training and discipleship. The remainder of the book is a breakdown on the LTG and how it can be implemented in various churches. Throughout the text, Cole shares stories of his days as a California lifeguard as illustrations of the principles he shares in each chapter. A large appendix concludes the book with various helps to give you ideas on starting your own LTG’s in your circle of friends.
I liked Cole’s challenge to get more people reading larger amounts of scripture. So much of what is passed off as “reading the bible” these days is nothing more than a chapter or two and the hope that something there sticks. Cole promotes the idea of getting the “big picture” message of various biblical books as a means of transforming individuals. For certain, a more detailed study can and should be done of the various passages we read. Cole asserts that this will happen naturally as larger amounts of scripture are read, questions will arise that will bring this discipline about.
All in all, I enjoyed this book. For the ideas in it to work requires dedicated, praying people who will invest in the lives of others. My biggest concern is, will we make that time? It seems more and more, we see superficial connections being made in large services and a lip service small group that glosses over the message of scripture. This is what passes for serious discipleship in many churches these days. Making that personal connection and commitment is what can make all the difference in the life of a new believer. This is what Cole ultimately argues for and in that, I think he is successful.
Some may disagree with his ideas but the think I enjoyed about this book is that it made you think. That’s always a good thing.
Thumbs up for this work.