Our Connection Group Bible Studies are a place where we, as a church, can apply the Word we hear preached every week, affirm each other and hold each other accountable as we apply the Word of God to our lives.
Now when most people hear the word “ACCOUNTABILITY” they cringe a little bit. People might think of it as having their privacy invaded, or someone manipulating them. We, as Americans, have swallowed the lie that our business is ours and no one else’s.
Isaiah actually warned Israel about this kind of “Lone-Ranger” mentality.
Isaiah 47:10 You were secure in your wickedness; you said, ‘No one sees me.’ Your wisdom and knowledge led you astray. You said to yourself, ‘I am, and there is no one else.’
Every person tends to think that they are wise (ourselves included!) and that they don’t really need accountability in their lives. The wisdom of God actually has some pretty strong words for that type of thinking.
Proverbs 26:12 Do you see a person who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.
Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that our hearts our deceitful and desperately wicked. Consequently, accountability has taken a bad rap these days. Our hearts are blind to certain things in our lives and we need other believers to help us see those blind spots. There is great freedom that can be found in living in community with other believers. But this does not happen without some level of accountability for those in that community.
God knows the natural propensity of our hearts, which is why He gave us the church. However, simply coming to church on a Sunday morning doesn’t really give us the accountability we need. It is easy to think that the message is for someone else and not you. This is why our Connection Groups are so important. They give us the opportunity to practice accountability. They give us an opportunity to form deep relationships with others so that they can see our blind spots.
So what is accountability? The dictionary would tell us that accountability is the quality or state of being accountable; an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions.
Accountability requires developing deep relationships with those in our Connection Group that help promote spiritual reality, honesty, obedience to God, and genuine evaluation of one’s walk with God and others. If people are going to see my blind spots they are going to have to get to know the real me.
Accountability also needs to leave people with a Gospel-centered solution. Our primary response should be to share the good news of Jesus, not just good advice. There is a place for giving good advice, but not at the expense of pointing people to Jesus. Accountability can become too introspective and focused on self. If accountability is going to accomplish what it needs to, which is Christ-likeness, we always need to be bringing people back to Christ!
Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens another.
True accountability does not mean guilt-tripping people. It doesn’t mean twisting their arm and making them feel bad, but it does require graciously pointing people to Christ and helping them to live more like Jesus.
HOW DO WE PRACTICE ACCOUNTABILITY?
Typically, we will have several questions in our weekly lesson that are geared towards “What are you trying to apply from Sunday’s message, and how can we, as a group, help keep you accountable?” Which is also why we typically pray at the end of the lesson. We want to be praying specifically for each other as we try to apply the word of God to our lives.
As leaders, we need to be leading the way in being honest and transparent with our answers. If we, as leaders, don’t, those in the group wont be transparent either.
Lastly, I would like to give a few practical thoughts on how we can do this on a regular basis.
When you are spending time with those in your group, bring these prayer requests up in conversation. Let people know that you have been praying for them and ask them how things are going. Be careful that you don’t ask too much or come across as though you are nagging. However, don’t over compensate and never ask at all! That is just as bad, if not worse then asking too much.
Throughout the week, let the folks in your group know that you are praying for them in these areas.
Encourage folks in your group to have an accountability partner. One-on-one Next Step Bible Studies are a great place and opportunity to learn what the Bible says about a specific area and seek even more accountability.
Be honest and humble about struggles. People in your group know you are not Superman. Be willing to share how you are wanting God to grow you. As leaders, we need this too!
Be patient and understanding. Every single one of us are in the messy middle of our sanctification. God is patient with us and because He is patient with us, we can be patient with others.
Guard your tongue. This one is so important. DO NOT GOSSIP! Gossip is sin and it destroys biblical community. Proverbs 11:13 A gossip goes around revealing a secret, but a trustworthy person keeps a confidence.
Don’t hide major sins that need to be addressed. If you feel like you need help or are not equipped to deal with a certain issue, direct them towards the Pastoral staff and let the Pastoral staff know about the situation. Again, don’t tell other people in the group or other leaders.
Lastly, be faithful and dependable. We can’t be there for every person in the church and you are not expected to be. But we can be there for the people in our groups! When people know that they can depend on you, they will have no problem being accountable to you.