Confessions of a recovering Baptist, part 3 – Accountability and/or small groups

Accountability groups were something that I wasn’t very sure of at first, but now they are a staple of my Christian walk.

As I’ve written before, my wife and I both grew up in Baptist churches but do not attend one now. I have seen my beliefs somewhat changed from those I grew up with.

Once again, I don’t want these articles to sound like I’m trashing Baptists or more specifically the churches that my wife and I grew up in, etc., etc.

Accountability and/or small groups

This idea I don’t really see as all that Baptist or not. It just may be that I never saw Christians being all that accountable in the specific churches that I was exposed to.

I’ve come to the conclusion that in order to be effective in my attempts at sanctification, I really need the help of close Christian brothers and sisters. In my current church, this help typically comes in the form of small group meetings and one-on-one (or perhaps two) accountability partnerships.

Honestly, the Baptist church I previously attended attempted to put a small groups program in place and the parishoners (including myself) didn’t want it. I wasn’t sure what the point of such small group meetings would be, and I didn’t see how it was going to be any different than the Sunday School classes we already had. It felt like this was going to be one more thing I would need to commit to within the church structure. And it wasn’t clear to me who would be leading the small group meetings. I wasn’t too thrilled about it.

Also, it seemed like the church was changing things because “that’s what’s popular in churches nowadays.” Now, I never heard that from the leadership, but that’s what I thought was going on and it’s the rumor that I heard often enough. And I’ve even seen people posting on websites claiming that accountability relationships (of the one-on-one deeply personal type) can actually be harmful.

Our current church doesn’t have a Sunday School program, so the small group meetings are much more important than they might be in another setting. But I was a bit skeptical when I first heard that this new church we were considering had these “small group” meetings. I again, wanted to know, “what’s the purpose?” And on a more serious note, is it a Biblical practice? I don’t know of any passages in Acts showing the apostles or early church leaders meeting in accountability groups.

So I had a talk with my Pastor about the practice. And he basically helped me rethink the issue. There are lots of commands in the New Testament that urge us to “bear one another’s burdens.” How exactly is this to be done? Small groups and accountability relationships are one way to help in that regard. They are certainly not the only way it can be done, but they are a way. And if you’re going to refuse to be part of a small group environment (or similar structure if your church doesn’t specifically have “small groups”) then how are you going to approach keeping that command? You need to have a good answer to that question.

I’ve experienced much spiritual growth in my life as a result of God’s grace working through my Christian brothers and sisters. It usually happens in the context of small groups and in accountability relationships. I have found them both to be an excellent help to me. God has used these relationships to pour out his lavish grace on me, and I’ve very grateful.