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5 Easy Steps to Starting an Accountability Relationship

Last Updated: August 18, 2015

Luke Gilkerson
Luke Gilkerson

Luke Gilkerson has a BA in Philosophy and Religious Studies and an MA in Religion. He is the author of Your Brain on Porn and The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality. Luke and his wife Trisha blog at IntoxicatedOnLife.com

In this video, Randy Alcorn, author of The Purity Principle, talks about what real accountability looks like.

Alcorn’s perspective here is very refreshing. It wasn’t some major moral failure that brought his accountability group together. It is simply a way for him to pay attention to the condition of his heart—because he knows his heart is the spring of all his thoughts and actions.

How to start an accountability friendship…

1. Make a list of your friends serious about their faith – Christian family members, church friends, or old Christian friends from the past (high school, college, etc.)

2. Narrow the list to those you genuinely like to talk to – Who do you “click” with?

3. Talk to one or two of your top picks about meeting together for prayer and Bible study – This doesn’t have to be elaborate or complicated. It can be as simple as meeting to talk about what each of you are learning about God. You can choose to study the same book of the Bible (or a Christian book) and come together to discuss what you’re learning about it. The goal is to start a regular (weekly) rhythm of discussion about the things of God.

4. As you meet, be intentional about confession – After you start meeting, intentionally bring up the subject of confession. If you want to avoid the word “accountability” in order to avoid a negative stigma, do that. Tell your friend, “I would like us to be intentionally about checking in with each other, really talking about the struggles we’ve had or the temptations we’ve faced.” Then do it. Be ruthless about not crowding out that check-in time with chit chat or even good spiritual discussion.

5. Give the gift of “going second” – It’s hard to go first when it comes to talking about your sin. So give your partner the gift of going second—throw yourself on the honesty grenade and talk about something you’re truly not proud of. Resist the urge to only share your socially acceptable sins (like not reading your Bible enough). When you talk about something really ugly—when you set the bar of honesty really high—you set a tone that invites your partner to really share his or her heart.


  • Comments on: 5 Easy Steps to Starting an Accountability Relationship
    1. George Kotiadis

      Accountability is often a surreal pipe dream for most of us men. We know we should have another man to speak to on a deep personal transparent level but we usually are not willing to spend the time doing this much less seeking out this person to meet this need.

      • Unfortunately, you’re right. I hope these steps help to ease people into it.

    2. Jason Bolster

      This would take immense courage, especially your step five.

      • It can take a lot of courage, yes, but in my experience, when people cross that line, there are a number of unexpected things that happen…

        a. For some people, they are met with an acceptance they never thought possible. People surround them with not only love but admiration.

        b. If they are not met with acceptance, they develop a new kind of reputation for stark honesty. While this might turn some friends away, people begin to develop a new circle of friends that treasure that kind of honesty.

      • Trevor

        Going first takes courage but my experience has been positive. Joining a new men’s small group of 4, I “went first” our very first meeting. That caused others to confess and start dealing with the same issues. And our group became known internally as “real” and not just one where you only confess obvious sins like getting angry in traffic. That action was much more appreciated by the other guys than I would have expected. It’s a risk but totally worth it.

    3. Daniel

      What about people like me that have a brain that works well but differently than others brains. What I mean is, my brain processes speech very slowly compared to most people. I do well in writing where I can take all the time I need to process and formulate sentences. It is not easy for me to talk to people, especially if I have not talked about the same subject hundreds of times before. I am learning to find my value and worth in God, but I still struggle a lot with social interactions, nit only because of my different mind, but also because of past events and bullying in my life.
      Basically I am asking what might it look for someone like me? Is it okay to do more in writing?

      • I don’t think it needs to be an either-or. For instance, we have a written accountability questionnaire we encourage people to fill out when the meet face-to-face with their partners. This helps people who process things in writing, while at the same time giving partners an opportunity to converse about the struggles we have.

    4. Warren

      My experiences have always gone wrong. I haven’t gotten that acceptance and love. I have been rejected and told they didn’t think I was saved. I have been searching and praying and seeking for years, yet have found the opposite of what everyone says will happen if I just step our and do it.

      As such, I’ve Larned that only God can be trusted, certainly no one else can be.

      Oh and now I have a whole new issue to deal with. Bitterness.

    5. Chris McKenna

      Warren, finding the right accountability group is so hard. We agree. Have you tried churches in your area, even ones that you might not attend? What about online accountability like Brave Hearts? (http://bravehearts.net). When people let us down, bitterness sweeps right in. Can you hand it over to God? Maybe you’ve heard this before, but being bitter is like drinking poison and hoping it kills the other person. You are right – God can be trusted. He will never let you down. Romans 8:31, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”

      Be well, Chris

      • Scott

        Yep, heard it before for sure. I’ve looked far and wide for groups of all sorts. I’ve checked out local churches and found the same situation. They have NOTHING, not even Men’s groups. I’m in a rural area, and the mindset is very much one that men just DON’T open up or share. I’ve tried online and find the lack of real connection doesn’t help me or deter me. It’s just someone I don’t know on the other side of the screen. You are right though, that bitterness sweeps in and it hurts. I keep trying to give it up to God and some days I do alright, but then the loneliness and isolation hits hards and I have to fight those hurts all over again.

      • Chris McKenna

        @Scott, man, I just want to pray over you right now. It sounds like you’re trying, and that my friend is admirable. I pray for an overwhelming sense of Jesus’ love and presence to wash over you in the middle of your loneliness and isolation. He gets it. Abandoned by His closest friends. Some so anxious to leave in His moment of need that they left clothing behind or worse yet, lied repeatedly about their friendship. Your Savior understands. 2 Timothy 4:16-18 (ESV) says, “16At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! 17But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. 18The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”

    6. Keith Walheim

      For some reason the Covenant Eyes Filter is blocking this video.

      • Chris McKenna

        Hi, Keith, I’m sorry that’s happening. Can you please call customer service at 877-479-1119 and see if maybe your filter setting or something else is causing the problem?

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