If you are a Christian man, I highly recommend reading the free e-book, Fight Clubs: Gospel Centered Discipleship. This new book, published by The Resurgence and written by Pastor Jonathan Dodson, has some of the best statements about creating biblical accountability groups I’ve ever read.
Fight Clubs does a fine job stating what is wrong with typical accountability relationships.
Christian accountability typically tries to foster obedience to Christ by “holding a person accountable” to a checklist of virtues. This checklist is often stated in the negative, i.e. “Did you lust this week?” The accountability is to not commit a vice. . . . Although accountability starts with a noble aim—commitment to confession, encouragement, and prayer for one another—it often ends up producing more wimps and bullies. Good intentions slide into legalistic or loose obedience, whereby we punish or absolve one another for not keeping the rules.
Sometimes accountability can devolve into communities that encourage a checklist mentality about obedience. The motivation to obey is merit-making before God and avoiding the “punishment” established by the accountability group.
Alternatively, accountability groups can also devolve into a kind of confessional booth. Dodson writes,
I confess my sin; you confess yours. I pat your back. You pat mine. Then we pray. Accountability groups become circles of cheap grace, through which we obtain cheap peace from a troubled conscience. Confession is divorced from repentance, reducing holiness to half-hearted morality. Accountability becomes a man-made mix of spineless confession and cheap peace. This approach to discipleship is hollow. It lacks the urgency required by the fight of faith. We fight without the church instead of with her. We act like wimps.
Do your accountability relationships push you towards legalism or license? Do your accountability relationships produce bullies or wimps?
How do we avoid these two extremes? Fight Clubs offers the following: “We must replace what is at the center of our discipleship. We need to remove accountability from the center and replace it with the Gospel. We need to orbit around Jesus, not rules or confession.”
For more info, read Fight Clubs and find out how to transform your accountability group into a gospel-centered community.