We often have ask members of our congregations to spend prayer time asking God to provide direction in regard to a new ministry effort, etc. Within the church, the body of Christ, there are a number of illustrations of the form in which accountability may take shape in the process of making disciples.
(1) Paul with Timothy and Titus. If we each had a Timothy or a Titus, someone we are giving ourselves to, someone we are helping to grow, someone we are responsible for and who is responsible to us, certainly we would see a great deal more spiritual maturity and obedience.
(2) Paul and Barnabus. Paul had a Barnabus (a son of encouragement) with whom he could identify. Paul could go to him with problems and discouragement. He was someone with whom he could pray, or from whom he could get counsel, guidance, and encouragement. He was someone to give another viewpoint or perspective. As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.
(3) A team or small group. This is not just a prayer group or a Bible study, but a small group of men or women with whom to interact, share ideas, pain, burdens, and victories. It is a small group like the disciples of the Lord, those with whom we can pray and discuss the Word together without fear of rejection.
(4) Marriage illustrates another place where accountability takes place. If we are married we need to develop our relationship with our spouses so we can share our problems and concerns with each other, discuss them, and get honest input without fear of rejection.
(5) The local church. The local church consists of overseers/leaders, those who are to be responsible for and accountable to the flock, and there is the flock, those who are to be accountable and responsible to their leaders as Hebrews 13:17 teaches.
(6) The Godhead. Finally, The Son Himself, though God of very God, is subject to or accountable to the Father (1 Cor. 11:3; 3:23; 15:24-28).
With this in mind, it would be good to think about how one can implement this more in one’s own ministry. Items like small groups provide an opportunity and team training another, but surely we need more accountability. One method is the buddy system where believers divide up into smaller groups of two or three who regularly meet for fellowship and input together.
Biblical Ways to Promote Accountability — An important question is what happens (or should happen) when a small group meets together? Goals and objectives to promote Christ-like growth in measurable ways: Meeting together is not just a time when good old boys meet to talk about fishing, football, or chew the fat. Here are some suggestions.
(1) Study: Part of the time should be spent around a portion of the Word, thinking together about what it means and how it applies.
(2) Prayer: This means it will be a time when the team shares needs and concerns. Pray together when you meet and covenant to pray for each other during the week.
(3) A schedule: Develop a schedule to give guidance in the use of time with the Lord, family, church, the team, etc.
(4) Report: Part of the team’s time should be spent sharing how each member has been doing—the battles, victories, problems, temptations, etc. How each one has been able or not been able to keep to their schedule, prayer time, study, etc.
Some guidelines and warnings:
(1) Be honest and humble about struggles. Watch the tendency to protect those comfort zones and layers of self-protection.
(2) Be patient, and understanding. Don’t come across as condemning. Maintain a spirit of acceptance of the other person. This does not mean there can’t be challenge, exhortation, and even rebuke, but it must be done in love and with patience and acceptance.
(3) Guard your tongue. In keeping with the biblical goal, guard against gossip and being critical. What is shared must be kept in strict confidence. Each person needs to know they can trust the others. (Prov. 16:27; 17:4, 27).