An accountability group exists to help people of God stay pure and faithful in their walk with him and help them overcome sins. It provides a context to live out James 5:16, "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective."
There are many benefits and blessings that come with an accountability group. Here are four (I'm sure there are more.):
- It helps each member submit every part of life to God's will, because it is keeps each member accountable to acting in a holy way. As each member continually submits her life to God, God grows her character and she matures in her walk with Christ.
- It acts as a safeguard against adulterous relationships and lustful habits, by bringing into the open each member's behavior. If he starts going down a dangerous path, the others can call him to purity. Richard Exley, former pastor and Christian author, says, "Temptation flourishes in the dark, but it withers and dies when it is brought into the light of accountability." (Man of Valor)
- Group meetings provide a regular time of encouragement and prayer for each member.
- It builds strong friendships between brothers and sisters in Christ. As men and women of God become vulnerable with one another and encourage each other their friendships deepen.
As shown by these four benefits, an accountability group can be a great help in the lives of its members as they walk with Christ. Pray about starting an accountability group, so that you and others may benefit. Even if you don't consider yourself a great leader, inviting some others to start an accountability group with you shouldn't prove to be too difficult.
Choosing Whom to Invite
It is best to form the group by sexes. Coed groups have difficulty providing accountability to sexual purity. Pray about whom to invite. Consider these criteria:
- Each person you invite should seek to follow Christ in everything, care about their character, be able to keep a secret, care about others, and not belittle others when they fail.
- No one who gossips about others should be invited. "A gossip betrays a confidence, so avoid a man who talks too much" (Proverbs 20:19). Vulnerable information will be shared at group meetings, and you want the group to be a safe place to share. The effectiveness of the accountability group only goes as far as how vulnerable the members are willing to make themselves, which will be determined by their trust in the group as a whole.
- You need to know those you invite well enough to know that they fit the above criteria.
If you calculate five minutes for each member to share and be prayed for, a one-hour meeting can work for a 12-member group. However, the larger the size of your group, the harder it is for the members to build friendships with each other.
This causes problems for the group, as the effectiveness of the group is built on trusting the other members. If someone in an eight-member group knows five of the members well but doesn't know the other two, he probably won't be as open or vulnerable during meetings as he would be if he knew everyone in the group. So use discretion concerning how many people to invite. If you have 11 people you want to invite, consider asking one of them if he would like to start a group himself, making two six-member groups.
Instructions on the Invitation
Once you have your final list of people to invite, write an invitation. Some helpful guidelines are:
- Include a short explanation of the purpose of this accountability group.