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Accountability in fellowship

Probably the thing people love most about the small group model is that it is a disarming environment to get to know other people in the local church. “hang out time” is very natural when done someone’s home, the study time is more discussion than it is lecture, and there is almost always food of some sort. A trend I’ve noticed in small groups is that after about 4 to 6 months together, the friendships have been made and the allure of the small group meeting as the place to just go hang out with friends starts to lose its luster. What happens here is nothing unlike a dating relationship. After that initial period of just staring at each other and giggling, you both realize you need some substance in the relationship. You need a “why are we still together” motivation.

For the small group, one way to avoid this 4 – 6 month DTR (define-the-relationship for you who weren’t college campus ministry kids) encounter is to build deeper spiritual fellowship into your group in the early stages. Now, this should not be done in week 1 ok? If you try it, you will be having small… at your house next week, no group. They will bail. But after about a 6 to 8 week period you can start to build what is commonly called accountability into your group. That is, you break the group down into pairs or groups of 3 and in those smaller groups you challenge one another to grow in your faith. Hebrews 3:13 actually warns us towards this action “but encourage one another daily, as long as it is still called today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Regardless of how spiritual you think you are, God created you to grow in your faith through the encouragement and accountability of other believers. side note: often called accountability it really should be called encouragement, but that sounds to cheesy so we end up giving it a negative connotation through a word like accountability. sometimes we should deal with cheesiness if its a better word.

So, once your small group breaks into pairs or 3s, what do they do? Well that can and should look different from time to time. Below I am offering you a couple of well known lists of accountability questions they could ask one another. By the way, this can be done outside of group time because it should take an hour or two. Maybe you can start this by you as the leader asking one other guy (if you are a guy) or girl (if you are a girl) to start meeting together regularly to go through this stuff. regularly can be twice a month, once a week, daily, or monthly depending on your situation. John Wesley who was more spiritual than you or I met daily with guys to ask his list below. So dont meet monthly because your pride wont let you meet more often. See Hebrews 3:13 cited above.

These are 22 questions the members of John Wesley’s Holy Club asked themselves every day in their private devotions over 200 years ago.

  1. Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I relly am? In other words, am I a hypocrite?
  2. Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate?
  3. Do I confidentially pass on to another what was told to me in confidence?
  4. Can I be trusted?
  5. Am I a slave to dress, friends, work, or habits?
  6. Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?
  7. Did the Bible live in me today?
  8. Do I give it time to speak to me everyday?
  9. Am I enjoying prayer?
  10. When did I last speak to someone else about my faith?
  11. Do I pray about the money I spend?
  12. Do I get to bed on time and get up on time?
  13. Do I disobey God in anything?
  14. Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?
  15. Am I defeated in any part of my life?
  16. Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy, or distrustful?
  17. How do I spend my spare time?
  18. Am I proud?
  19. Do I thank God that I am not as other people, especially as the Pharisees who despised the publican?
  20. Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold a resentment toward or disregard? If so, what am I doing about it?
  21. Do I grumble or complain constantly?
  22. Is Christ real to me

Chuck Swindoll’s Pastoral Accountability list – for pastors. warning: every area of your life is game.
cited by Chuck Colson in his book, The Body

1. Have you been with a woman anywhere this past week that might be seen as compromising?

2. Have any of your financial dealings lacked integrity?

3. Have you exposed yourself to any sexually explicit material?

4. Have you spent adequate time in Bible study and prayer?

5. Have you given priority time to your family?

6. Have you fulfilled the mandates of your calling?

7. Have you just lied to me?

If you are still reading this absurdly long post at this point, I hope these help. what else have you used that has been valuable in creating accountability relationships with others?

  1. Lauren D
    October 8, 2008 at 11:28 am

    I think this is really cool and I hope we can incorporate it into our bible study in some way. I definitely feel like we might have hit a lull in our bible study and this would be a great way to grow deeper in Christ together

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