Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Why Accountability Groups are Stupid

There are a couple of addresses that you can send the hate mail if all you read is the headline of this blog. I am sure there are multiple ways that I could have entitled this, but to be honest this seemed the most direct and typically, that is the path I take. In being a pastor for almost 17 years, I have never followed the idea of, “you must set up accountability groups” in order to have accountability. I have met with countless men who were involved in accountability groups who got involved in all kinds of sin, as well as men who were never involved in accountability groups who got involved in all kinds of sin. I say that because my thoughts have always been: “If a guy is watching porn or running around on his wife, how difficult would it be for him to say ‘no’ and lie to one of the 7 questions asked of him as my weekly duty.” Now, I need you read and understand what I am writing - the Word of God makes it crystal clear that I should be engaged in the confession of sin with other believers…generally speaking, the purpose of “accountability groups” is to ask questions and focus in on sin or prevent it. Certainly every believer should have a passion to avoid sin, but the focus of my life should be the impact of the gospel and love which blossoms from a relationship with Christ. The idea of getting together and focusing on my 3 or 30 failures from the week before tends to push performance over passion for Christ.  What I need is not 4 men in a room asking me 10 questions, what I need is a community of believers in my life that are loving me, walking with me, and getting in my life on the day to day basis. There is accountability but it is not with a group of 4 men, but with a community of believers that my life intersects with on multiple levels and interests.  There are some men in my life that I stay in touch with, that when we get together our conversation covers sports, hunting, finances or children etc…. I love my wife, we don’t have to meet each week and ask three questions to make sure our love is going in the right direction. However, we do need an on-going RELATIONSHIP, we do need on-going fellowship and intimacy, and when those things are not right, I don’t need a list of questions to ask her - I need real life on life, heart to heart communication.    

Hear me when I say that we need accountability, and as men we need accountability from other men. We need accountability when we surf the net, there are great resources out there like http://www.x3watch.com/    or this http://www.internetsafety.com/safe-eyes-parental-control-software.php , but the focus of my relationships should not be to ask questions that actually focus on sin rather than the gospel.  

Heb. 3:13 tells me not be become hardened to the deceitfulness of sin. I think the problem with a traditional accountability group can be much like the idea of a chastity belt---I may squelch the conduct but it can do so without ever engaging the heart. I have actually heard more than one guy say: “I am always careful what I look at on TV because I know that someone is going to ask me at the end of the week what I have been watching.” Is this any different than the young person that doesn’t have sex because they may get pregnant? Is the goal behavioral modification or heart transformation?   

If the church were Scriptural and we were living lives in relationships, being accountable to one another the church would serve as group to help stoke my love for Christ and confront me when I get involved with sin. The confrontation doesn’t simply come through a list of 9 questions with the last one being “Have you lied to me in any of these answers.” Hint:  if I am watching porn while my wife is in bed there is a slight possibility I may lie to you.  A white hot passion for Christ is what develops a hatred for sin, and a hatred for sin will lead me to take drastic steps to put that sin to death, including the call to other brothers to come beside me and help. Christ set up a natural organic accountability group called the church, and it is cultivated not by questions but by time and relationships.  What is amazing is that in many circles the title of this blog will cause furor, but there are countless youtube and blogs out there denouncing the one thing the Christ died for, the one thing that He set up that by its very nature, if it functions biblically, sets up accountability and breathes life, encouragement and brings a ever deepening love for the gospel…that is the local church. The church is the one thing that the Word explicitly states we should be involved in. He died for her!

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