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5 Reasons Churches Must Cultivate a Culture of Accountability

Last Updated: March 20, 2023

Statistics show that as many as 64% of church-going men of all ages and 34% of church-going women ages 18-30 look at porn regularly.1 Unfortunately, accountability is largely absent from the church today. Most Christians are not accountable to their churches or anyone in them. According to Barna, only 5% of Christians in the USA have accountability at their churches.2

While there are plenty of reasons accountability in the church is difficult, it’s more important than ever for churches in the 21st century to share a strong message of accountability. If you’re a pastor, church leader, or concerned church member, here are five reasons why your church MUST develop a culture of accountability in 2022.

1. Accountability Strengthens Church Leadership

Hebrews 13:17 says, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, since they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account, so that they can do this with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.”

The first part talks about submitting to church leaders, but notice the second part. Leaders in the church are “those who will give an account.” By voluntarily seeking out accountability in the here and now, church leaders acknowledge that they will give an account before God for their leadership in the church.

An article in the Organizational Psychology Review looks at the importance of “an internalized sense of accountability.” When leaders feel that they are accountable and even take steps to make themselves more accountable, it gives everyone in the organization a greater sense of ownership and responsibility.3

The wife of a pastor who uses our Screen Accountability service recently told us, “My spouse is a pastor and this has been great for our marriage, but also to set an example and recommend for our church.” Accountability actually strengthens the leadership in an organization!

In a time when churches have been rocked by scandals, accountable leaders are more important than ever. James 3:1 warns, “Not many should become teachers, my brothers, because you know that we will receive a stricter judgment.” With that stricter judgment in mind, pastors, elders, and other ministry leaders should earnestly seek out accountability!

2. Accountability Encourages Real Fellowship in the Church

Accountability can seem frightening, especially when it runs counter to our typical interactions at church. However, far from hindering fellowship, a culture of accountability deepens the real experience of fellowship in the church.

In his book Refuge: How Hospital Church Ministry Can Change Your Church Forever, pastor James Reeves challenges the traditional concept of small group ministry. Instead of simply “doing life together,” Reeves says an effective group is one “where complete and total transparency can be practiced, where toe-curling honesty is the norm, where no secrets are kept.”4

Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider one another in order to provoke love and good works, not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching.”

Does your congregation “provoke love and good works”? The Bible teaches that this is essential for real fellowship.

3. Accountability Fosters Personal Growth in the Church

Self-help gurus and performance consultants have long recognized the value of personal accountability. One oft-cited study found that scheduling a meeting for personal accountability can make people 95% more likely to accomplish their goals!5

More importantly, Scripture prescribes personal accountability as a key instrument of growth and healing from our brokenness. James 5:16 says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect.”

We all need to practice confession to one another—it’s critical for our continued growth in godliness. What James has in mind is a deeply engaged fellowship marked by confession and prayer. Confession is one aspect of accountability and prayer is another.

This is vital for personal growth.

4. Accountability Safeguards the Mission of the Church

In Galatians 2, the Apostle Paul recounts a story where the mission of the church was threatened by cliquish behavior among the leadership. The Apostle Peter, it seems, was bowing to peer pressure from the in-crowd.

What did Paul do? He held Peter accountable to the Gospel. He reminded Peter that the Gospel is inclusive, not exclusive, and that believers are called to love and fellowship regardless of class, race, or background.

This is just one example among many. In fact, one way to think of the epistles of the New Testament is a series of “accountability letters,” where the apostles are reminding churches of the mission of the church and warning against distractions.

Hebrews 3:13 says, “Encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception.” There are all kinds of things that deceive us and distract us from the church’s true mission.

Churches need accountability to stay on track!

5. Accountability Is Required by Love

Lastly, Jesus said that love was the defining mark of the Christian. John 13:35 says, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love is so critical following Jesus that in Romans 13:10 Paul says, “Love is the fulfillment of the law.”

Later, in Galatians 6:1-2, Paul clarifies that a genuine demonstration of love will include holding people accountable. “Brothers and sisters, if someone is overtaken in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual, restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so that you also won’t be tempted. Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

The law of love is the law of Christ, and it requires accountability. So, the question is: Do we really love one another?

Get a Step-by-Step Plan to Develop a Church Culture of Accountability

In 2022, more than ever, accountability is essential for the church. To help you get started, we’ve created a free downloadable PDF with a step-by-step plan for developing a culture of accountability in your church.


1Proven Men Porn Survey (conducted by Barna Group), located at https://www.provenmen.org/2014PornSurvey/ accessed May 23, 2022.

2The Barna Group, “National Study Describes Christian Accountability Provided by Churches.” Accessed January 19, 2022. https://www.barna.com/research/national-study-describes-christian-accountability-provided-by-churches/

3Danni Wang, David Waldman, & Blake Ashforth, “Building relationships through accountability: An expanded idea of accountability,” Organizational Psychology Review 9 (2019):184-206. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/337496246_Building_relationships_through_accountability_An_expanded_idea_of_accountability

4James Reeves, Refuge: How Hospital Church Ministry Can Change Your Church Forever (Grand Rapids: Kregel Academic and Professional, 2010),128)

5Stephen Newland, “The Power of Accountability,” Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education (2018). Accessed January 19, 2022. https://www.afcpe.org/news-and-publications/the-standard/2018-3/the-power-of-accountability/

  1. Dan

    Hey, thanks for the article :)
    I don’t see a link to the PDF you mentioned at the end though; was it not uploaded or did I miss something?
    Thanks for all the work you do!

    • Keith Rose

      Hi Dan! Just drop your name and email in the box below the post, and it will take you to the link for the PDF. Let me know if you have any trouble with it!

      Blessings,

      Keith

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