To get involved in an accountability group, first look for an existing one you can join such as a small group through your church or a neighboring church if your church does not have one. Make sure it is gender specific-men to men and women to women. Most of these groups are found under men's or women's ministries. If none are available or you are not led to one, hook up with another two or three people and start your own. You can find people through a church leader or pastor. In this process, make sure you are in prayer, asking God to lead you in the right direction! The substance of why and what you are doing is more important than the form of how you do it. See our small group channel for ideas, as an accountability group is just a small group with more emphasis on accountability. The key to making this work is for you and the other participants to be open, submissive, listening, and authentic so you can confess your sins in a safe, confidential environment.
What a Good Accountability Program/Person Will Have:
· Look for confidentiality as paramount.
· Look for people whom you already know or have a connection with such as a common interest or season in life.
· Look for people whom you respect, trust, are mature in their faith and character, and from whom you can learn so you can develop closeness and share shortcomings!
· Look for people who maintain a loving and respectful attitude!
· Make sure you use God's Word; it is your standard for faith and practice!
· Make sure no one dominates unless it is a teacher teaching. Have equal airtime so all can be involved. Thus, the number of people to have depends on the length of time you meet. If you meet for an hour, have no more than four people. If you meet for two hours, have no more than seven. If you are in a larger group, have a teaching time, then break down into sub groups for accountability questions and prayer.
· Be willing to be flexible and surrender your time when another person needs extra time and care.
· Participants need to respect the feelings and time of others, and to speak the truth in love.
· Communicate ground rules or a code of conduct, clearly emphasizing confidentiality and equal time.
· Make sure prayer is the focus!
· Seek guidance from others who can shepherd you, who have been there, done that-who have "weathered the storms" and are able to share it. Look for people you can shepherd and guide faithfully.
· Seek those who can help you adhere to God's standards rather than to the world's standards.
· Seek faithfulness and constancy!
· Use humor, but not at the expense of others!
· Be committed, and encourage others to be so, too!
· Remember, the primary purpose is to get yourself aligned with God's love, call, and precepts over all else.
· The more mature people must disciple the immature-not the other way around.
· Be aware of your pride, and never allow your maturity and growth to be a source of pride or use it to put others down!
· What you do not want is people discipling you who are prideful, who only care about themselves, or who are irritable, presumptive, "too busy," and neglectful of others! Make sure you are not this way to others!
There is no best way or program to "do" accountability. It can be a "one-on-one" mentorship or a large group that is subdivided into smaller ones; it can meet for one hour or two, once a week or every other week. The important thing is to do it, remain committed, and to follow Christ and not yourself. If you do not "click" with the people in your group or feel you do not have a level of trust, that is OK; this may not be the group or person for you. Look for or start another one.
How can we do this? By seeing others with the eyes of Christ-to see love, compassion, and forgiveness. Take the one another passages to heart (One Another Passages), and when we do instruct, warn, or even chastise, do it in the parameters of the fruit of the Spirit, without judgment or commendation (as there is no such thing in Christ!). Then, we can be open and honest with one another. God gives us the faith, the strength, and the empowerment to do this, and when we are with others, it is synergized! It is not about our weakness, it is about His strength! When we rely on God and build one another up, we grow in faith and maturity and become more effective to one another. This is reciprocal, and will replicate and continue.
So, what is the final obstacle remaining? The commitment to make it continual. Accountability is not just for a time, it is for all times, and requires our discipline and dedication to keep at it. If we stop, we soon go back to our fears and complacency. When this happens, sin that before was of no consequence has now grown big and is knocking on your door. Commitment is essential to making anything that is precious work, from a friendship to marriage to being a member of a church. We must be committed and continual. Commitment brings about hope and growth through sacrifice, as we pour ourselves into it while being fueled by our Lord.
The structure is up to you and your group. How do you lead an effective accountability group? The same way you would a small group. Please see the resources we have developed for you:
Take it slow and easy. Don't try, or even expect, to immediately delve into the deepest, darkest corners of your life. Begin by having your close friends hold you accountable for things like praying regularly and integrity issues. As you see the results and benefits of this, you will also be building up trust, which is necessary for accountability in more personal and private areas. If you need further help in this area, seek a qualified and trusted pastor or Christian counselor. Also, seek someone to whom you can be accountable. Do not just trust yourself; have a small group or mentor ask you these questions on a regular basis!
Remember that Christian maturity and character is "Christ-likeness," becoming more like our Lord by living out His precepts. This is not a destination until we are called home to eternity; meanwhile we who are on this journey must make the most our opportunities. We can learn and grow deeper and closer or we can repel and become worldlier. This journey and the road you will take is your choice and in God's providence (James 4:13-17)! So, go and be sharpened, and be a sharpener to others as well! In His Word and in prayer, watch your life grow and be transformed and triumphant!