I am likely to rock the boat on this one. Over the years I have both promoted and participated in accountability partnerships and groups, and when I look back it makes me cringe.
But now I am going to be brutally honest.
I do not believe in “Christian” accountability (or actually using the word “Christian” as an adjective ever … but that is another story).
This whole unbiblical concept of “accountability” makes me want to puke. What I have come to learn over time is that no one “person” or even the “church” should hold anyone “accountable.” The “accountability partner” is an unbiblical concept that I believe actually hinders the Body more than helps it.
There is only one platform that works for a genuine follower. This is being in a relationship with one another. I do not look to the “church” or to any other “brother” or “sister” to hold me accountable. I look toward brothers and sisters with whom I am part of the Body of Christ to love me, and care for me, but not to “hold me accountable.”
Love is expressed by care, including rebuke and discipline, not by reporting in to my “accountability partner” or “group”
Who wants to get their ass chewed up in a process that breeds justice and is always trying to fix a “problem”. Who wants to be looked at as a problem. Who wants to be lectured to when we fail. What we need is grace, and grace is completely absent in the accountability partner system the church promotes. If an accountability partner or group pounces on someone and punishes them for “sinning”, over time I think people will hide, conceal, and “fake it” in the future. What I think the process comes down to over time is … I do not want to have my character assassinated, so I am not telling anybody anything. When grace is absent, accountability breaks down. And by-the-way, if you are going to hold someone accountable, which denominational doctrine (or set of rules) are you going to enforce to bring justice and to rid the problem… (Guess I would need to pick the right accountability partner or group to meet my needs, right?)
Let us take off our church-going-colored-glasses for just a minute. Let’s look at this in a bit of reality. If I am having sex with another woman, the last place I am going to break down and tell another dude or a group of dudes is not going be after eating biscuits and gravy at Cracker Barrel one morning. The environments in which these “meetings” are typically held are ridiculous… it just does not fit. Also, most people will learn the “system” within the institution. If I wanted to, I could easily present “Brian Swan” as a wonderful “have-it-all-together” type of dude. I can answer the 10 pre-made questions easily and it will be just what you want to hear. It bothers the piss out of me that I could even package myself in that way and go with status quo (but I am glad I do not want to).
As with any human-made system many of us have put our faith and trust in, we can figure out how it is all run and how it operates. We can figure out exactly what words to say, just the right topics to talk about, and we could frame everything up to keep everyone around us off-course on who we truly are on the inside. This to me is a huge problem. The institutional church promotes individualism in very subtle ways, which actually keeps everyone a “surface” Christian. Four years of meeting with men once a week in discipleship classes, and I do not know who they really are. Seems like a cancer lump in the Body. However, this is perfect for business. It keeps everyone happy and disillusioned and you never have to love and care for anyone else, you just need to keep them in line and within the rules.