May 26, 2014

Why I'm Getting Off Social Media

It is May of 2014 and the social media craze has been around for about 10 years now, give or take a few years.  What started with America Online back in the early 1990's exploded with Facebook in 2004 and has most definitely become America's favorite pastime.  I have certainly taken part in this craze, but now it is time that I "Sign Out" for some very specific reasons.

Before sharing some of my thoughts/convictions I want to say two things up front:
  1. This is not about "right" or "wrong" - I do not think that others must have the same convictions that I do, and I certainly don't think that others are wrong for not seeing this issue the way I see it.  This decision for my life is a personal one and I think the season of life that I am in (church planting and Pastoral leadership) has a lot to do with it.  I am not an extremist.  In fact, I don't like extremes.  I don't see this decision as extreme, but as an urgent matter in my life that has the ability to have an immediate impact on my life for the better.  
  2. Social Media can be good - Many people use social media for a variety of reasons:  keeping up with family, business, marketing, news, etc. All of those reasons can be very good.  I also know that social media, like all things, can be used for the glory of God and the good of others. I am glad to see the Gospel being proclaimed through the Internet in different ways and pray that it will continue.  I do not think that social media, in and of itself, is evil or wrong.  I do, however, question the way that social media is being used by our culture today.  
Having said that, here are the 5 reasons that I will be removing myself from the social media matrix:

1.  Time

Timelines and Status Updates can be very interesting.  For some reason, we are all really interested in what is going on in other people's lives.  The tabloid magazines know this.  In fact, they have been making millions off people's interest in the lives of famous people for years!  Why do we want to know what is going on in the lives of others?   What has it ever done for us other than gives us something superficial to gossip about?

I, too, have given into the temptation to waste countless hours checking my phone just to see what other people were posting about their lives.  I have looked at pictures, read about people's personal lives and been interested in very trivial matters.  But this is the verse that convicted me:  Ephesians 5:15-16 "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil." When I gave my life to Christ, I gave Him everything.  I want Him to be Lord over every area of my life and I want my to redeem my time so that it honors Him.

The truth of the matter is this:  Time is not ticking forward, it is counting down.  There is a set day that I will die or Jesus will return.  Until one of those two things happen, I want my life to be used to glorify Him as much as possible.  I have already wasted too much of my life distracting myself reading pointless posts and tweets.  I want to redeem the time the Lord has given me on this earth.

2.  Pride

We all want to be told how great we are.  It feels good.  I don't know about you, but after I post something on Facebook/Twitter, it doesn't take long for me to take out my phone to start checking for how many people have either commented, liked, favorited, or ReTweeted what I wrote.  In other words, I want affirmation from people about how brilliant my thoughts were or how much my words have impacted them.  I want people to tell me how great I am, but when I look for the praise of others to make me feel good about myself and I get it, the only result is pride.  I start thinking that I am really awesome.  But when I don't get the responses I want, I feel rejected.  Neither of these two feelings represent an accurate view of what God thinks about me according to the Bible.  It is only in the Gospel that I am freed from this destructive thinking and leads me into the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.

We need to rest in the fact that our significance is found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  That although we had nothing significant in ourselves that would cause God to look favorably upon us, in Christ, He has given us love, mercy, and adoption.  This alone makes us significant. Nothing that we have done!  The thoughts and opinions of others pale in comparison to the thoughts and opinions of God.  As we understand our identity in Christ, we stop looking for our identity in others.

I pray that as I take a break from social media that God will remind me of His grace and that my significance will be found in Him alone.  I also pray that regardless of the thoughts and opinions of others I will remember that He is pleased with me because of Christ and I don't need to prove myself to others to get their approval.  Proverbs 29:25 says, "The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe."

3.  Comparison

In my short time on this earth I have learned that comparing can only lead to one of two attitudes:  Pride or Envy.  If I compare my life to someone else who is in a worse position than me, it causes me to be prideful.  However, if I compare my life to someone who is in a better position than me, I become envious of that person.  Both are destructive to my heart.

As I have scrolled through Facebook and Twitter, I have had bad thoughts about others.  I have wanted what they had, or I have become prideful of areas in my own life.  This needs to end.

The Gospel frees me from comparison and humbles me under the mighty hand of God.  It reminds me that I don't deserve anything from God and that I have no reason to be proud.  If grace is the reason for anything and everything that I have in my life (and it is), then how could I boast about my life?  Also, if God meets my every need, then what good does it do me to be bitter toward others for what they have? The Gospel frees me to celebrate others without wanting what they have.  1 Timothy 6:6 says, "But Godliness with contentment is great gain."  The abundant joy offered in Christ far exceeds anything that could be found in the things of this world.   In my time away from social media, I pray that I will be content with my life and celebrate the lives of others without comparing my life to theirs.

4.  Lust

God created sex, and it is good.  Really good.  :-) But sadly enough, sex is probably the most misunderstood and abused gift that God has ever given us.  His intentions for sex are to help a married couple (one man and one woman) create a deep intimacy with each other through pleasing each other physically as an act of love that they only share with each other.  But this understanding of sex is not embraced by our culture in general.  So many hate the idea that God should have authority over their sex life.  We want sexual freedom at all costs, but fail to realize that sex outside of God's intentions only leads to captivity.

What we look at on the Internet today is destroying our culture.  The damage of pornography is indisputable, and the scary thing is that even if you are not looking for pornography, the porn industry is looking for you.  The industry is marketing sex and putting it right in front of the eyes of so many in order to hook them at a young age.  I love the old quote that says, "You can't stop a bird from pooping on your head, but you can stop it from building a nest in your hair."  The truth is, social media is getting more and more promiscuous every day.  There are countless temptations and opportunities for lust to grab ahold of our minds, so we have to guard our minds and flee every sexual temptation.  1 Corinthians 6:18 says, "Flee from sexual immorality.  Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins again his own body."  

I know that my eyes will impact my heart, and I want to guard my heart at all costs.  I am thankful to the Lord that looking at sexually immoral material on the Internet has never been a problem for me, but I know that my flesh is weak and that I am vulnerable to the attacks of the evil one.  Since I can't control what other people post to their social media, I have to do what is best for my faith, my family, and my future and not put myself in the position to succumb to temptation.  The last thing my family or the church needs is another pastor who falls into sexual immorality.  The Gospel is too precious to be represented in that way.

A quick note to the ladies:  Please be careful about what you post on social media this Summer.  I know that many of you will be at the beach with friends and family, but allow me to speak on behalf of my gender and tell you that when guys see you in a bikini, it can cause us to think about you in ways that you (hopefully) don't intend for us to think about you.  The Word of God says that Christians should be mindful of those who are weak in different areas of life and not to cause others to stumble.  Well, many brothers will stumble if they see you in revealing bathing suits this Summer.  Thanks for being mindful of us, and thanks for allowing your beauty to be displayed with respectable apparel, modesty, self-control, and your gentle and quiet spirit (1 Timothy 2:8 and 1 Peter 3:3-4).

5.  Relationships

I am convinced that if people can keep up with my life at a surface level through social media, they will be less likely to seek me out in order to have a real relationship in person.  The same is true for me.  I can feel like I know what is going on in the lives of my friends if I keep up with them on social media, and as a result many of my relationships have become far less relational.  I would rather have a few close friends than a bunch of acquaintances, so, by unplugging from social media, it will force me and my friends to be intentional with our friendship.  It will cause us to pick up the phone to talk or set up a time to meet in order to catch up on each other's lives.  I will be interested in seeing which of my friendships are actually true friendships.

So, what are my next steps?  After I post this, I will be deleting Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter from my phone.  I do not need to be tempted to check them every second that I am "bored."  I will not delete my accounts, but I will not be updating them for at least a year.  If you want to know what is going on in my life, call me. I'd love to chat! :-)  Also, I will be updating this blog occasionally, but the real purpose of that is for me to work on my writing/communication skills.  If you want to read, stop by the blog every now and then.  Lastly, if you want to keep up with Mission Community Church, feel free to follow the Twitter account HERE.

Once again, if this post causes you to re-examine your life in regard to social media, that is fine.  But please don't hear any condemnation in my heart if you disagree with me.  This was not intended to be a judgmental post by any means, but more of an opportunity to share my heart and let you know how the Lord is directing me.  Social media could affect each of us differently, but for me, the dangers of wasting time with distractions, building up my pride, comparing my life to other in unhealthy ways, being tempted to lust sexually, and the possibility of losing closeness in my relationships was enough for me to "Sign Off" for a season and see if God has something better in mind for my life.  

April 6, 2014

Pastoral Letter - April 6th, 2014

Dear MCC Family,

I was so excited about the time we shared together this weekend.  The cookout was a blast (even though Clay beat me twice in Corn Hole), and our Sunday Core Team gathering was a rich time of fellowship and blessing for many.  I pray that what we talked about today will have an impact on eternity in some way because of the grace of God.

We introduces an important theme for our church:  "OUTSIDE THE WALLS!"  This is the mindset that MOST (not all, but most) of what we will do and focus on as a church will happen OUTSIDE THE WALLS of a church building.  We don't want to be a church that focuses on Sunday morning.  We want to focus on the whole life of our people and make disciples, not church attenders.

Today, we talked we showed both of these videos and talked about what it looks like to be a missional church and a community church.  We have a strong desire to be both of those, hence the name, "Mission Community" Church.  Here are the two videos:



We also talked about what success looks like for a missional church and I appreciated your feedback and the heart that each person displayed.  Here is what we defined as "success" for the a missional church: to plant seeds, to be faithful, to develop missional individual and communities, develop a passion for the missional life, to create (by God's grace) a heart and attitude of worship, to be humble and selfless servants who live out of grace, to live in a constant state of brokenness, to have healthy families (marriage and legacy) within our church, to be good listeners, for the leadership of MCC to equip the saints for ministry, to make disciples and see life change (maturity), to see neighborhoods changed, and to plant churches (multiplication).  These are some great ways to measures success for a church body.

As the Lead Pastor, I thought I would briefly share a few things that would delight my heart to see.  In other words, here are a few ways that I would deem my ministry a "success" as a Pastor.  If my people were:  seeking and enjoying Jesus, were operating Biblically within marriage, demonstrating and declaring the Gospel in their homes to their children, living on mission in their community groups, suffering with hope, making disciples, impacting their neighborhoods, being set free from bondage, able to defend their faith, and generous with everything God has given them to steward.

Let's pray that God would do His work within us and that we would delight in the finished work of Christ and live out of our new identity as children of God who get to display that glory of our God!

Love you guys!

Ryan

February 4, 2014

Pastoral Letter - My Prayer for our church

Hello MCC Family,

I just wanted to share my prayer for our church from my time with the Lord this morning.

"Lord, may MCC be a God-glorifying, Gospel-centered, Spirit-empowered, grace-filled, Biblical, sinner-embracing, Disciple-making, Leader-developing, multiplying church that serves the needs of the poor and the city.  Amen."

As we seek the Lord's will for our church together, lets be active in our obedience personally and corporately.  Let's depend on Him for all that we need.  Let's believe that the Lord is still speaking, moving, healing, empowering, and changing people as He did all throughout the book of Acts.  Let's have faith that God will save people and send people.

I love you all and I am humbled to lead you.  Please pray for me.

Ryan

Prayer-gram for February 3rd - 9th, 2014

People/Families of MCC:  Cline's, Wright's, Miller's
Elders of MCC:  Ryan, Travis, Kasey, and Brad
Other Churches/Pastors/Ministries: FHC (David Chadwick), First Baptist Matthews, YCI (Youth Commission International)
Government Authorities:  President Obama, The Supreme Court
Ends of the Earth/Missionaries:  Peter and Ashley McKenzie and their family as they prepare for Japan and raise funds.  Also, Mission of Hope in Haiti
Charlotte/Matthews:  For unity amongst churches
World Issues:  The persecuted church all throughout the world
MCC Needs:  Wisdom for decision-making, Marriages to be strengthened through 2B1 Class, Home for MCC, Worship Leader, Love to be the motivation in all that we do.

January 27, 2014

Pastoral Letter - Purity

Hey Everyone!

I am so blessed to be your Pastor.  My heart fills with joy when thinking about the fact that God has given me the opportunity to serve you and to encourage your growth in Christ.  What an honor!

My heart has recently been very burdened for the purity of God's people, and today, I found myself praying for our purity.  Now, when I say purity, most Christians think that topic is reserved for Middle School girls.  Middle school girls have traditionally been the target audience for the concept of purity.  It is good and right that we should help this age group understand the importance of guarding their heart and body and remaining pure, but why is this not a topic of conversation for the rest of the church?  Are we challenging young men to live pure lives?  Not really.  Are we talking about purity with adults?  It doesn't really seem like it.  Also, why have we made the idea of purity one that mostly revolves around sex?  Is this the only area of life that God has in mind when He exhorts us toward a pure lifestyle?  I think not.

One of the most significant verses in all of Scripture regarding purity is Matthew 5:8.  It says, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."

There is so much truth in this one little verse.  Let's break it down…

  • The main point of this verse is the heart.  Impacting the heart and changing it is the function of the Holy Spirit through the Gospel and it is the primary concern of the Christian faith.  This heart change is not something that man can create in Himself, it is only the work of God, by His grace and mercy.  For someone to be "pure in heart" means for them to have pure (selfless) motives, not just pure actions.  Anyone can modify their behavior in order to act appropriately and be acceptable, but what is rare is for someone's heart to truly desire God and others above themselves.  
  • The word pure here simply means "clean." In other words, our hearts and our motives are unstained and have the absence of impurity or filth.  Having a pure heart involves many areas of life, not just sex.  Purity involves areas of our hearts such as:  greed, revenge, pride, selfish ambition, unforgivness, anger, etc.  God is asking for our hearts to be pure in every area.  In other words, that our hearts be submitted to His will above ours in every way.  If you are a Christian, there should not be one, single area of life that you are in control of.  Every part of our lives is placed under the submission of Christ.  
  • The promise at the end of the verse should be our motivation:  to see God.  I don't know about you, but I want to see God.  I want to know God.  I want to experience God in real, tangible ways, both in this life and in the life to come.  I love the way the Holman New Testament Commentary explains this passage by saying, "Jesus may have had a dual meaning behind the phrase 'see God.'  First, the pure heart is unhindered in its ability to understand the heart and person of God in this life on earth and, in this sense, is better able to see God.  Moreover, only the pure (forgiven) heart is able to enter heaven to enjoy the presence of God for eternity."

The word of God also tells us to guard our heart in Proverbs 4:23.  In other words, we should be diligent not to let ANYTHING come into our hearts that could make them impure.  We are called to do battle against the things of our flesh and the things of this world that will try to block our ability to see God.  We must be diligent.  We must be intentional.  We should guard our eyes from seeing sexually explicit things, violence, abuse, etc.  We should guard our ears from listening to lyrics in music that will damage our heart and mind.  We should take whatever steps necessary to eliminate friendships in our lives that cause our hearts to wander away from the Lord.  And lastly, I would say that we should forgive.  Lack of forgiveness in our hearts will destroy us and our ability to see God.  If you are holding a grudge, forgive.  If you have been wronged, offer grace.  Doing this will not just benefit the other person, but it will set your heart free from the burden of holding onto bitterness.  All of these are examples of ways that we can guard our hearts that they may be pure.

As a church body, let's seek to have pure hearts this week, and always.  Let's do whatever it takes to guard our hearts against the deceitfulness of sin.  Let's long to see God together.

In love,

Ryan

Prayer-gram for January 27th-February 2nd, 2014

People/Families of MCC:  Schneider's, Carter's, Biller's
Elders of MCC:  Ryan, Travis, Kasey, and Brad
Other Churches/Pastors/Ministries:  Exodus Church (Brian Lowe), WellSpring Church (Dwayne Bond), FCA
Government Authorities:  Mayor of Charlotte Patrick Cannon, Town of Matthews Manager Hazen Blodgett, Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts Jr.
Ends of the Earth/Missionaries:  Leo Wurschmidt and family (FHC Family that has been called to Senegal and is moving there in about year).  Pray for financial support, transition, kids education, etc.
Charlotte/Matthews:  That we, as a church, would be able to meet the needs of our city/town effectively and for the sake of the Gospel.
World Issues:  Pornography and Sex Trafficking - link to video:  http://www.unearthedpictures.com
MCC Needs:  Sense of community, effective Gospel witness, Worship Pastor, Building

January 21, 2014

Pastoral Letter - January 21st, 2014

Dear Members of MCC,

Hello Family!  We are so excited about all that God is doing in our midst.  MCC is really coming together and it is humbling to be a part of this body of believers!  The 2 Becoming 1 classes are going great!  God is revealing His plan for marriage to us and how He intends for it to work.  I firmly believe that healthy families are built upon healthy marriages and healthy nations are built upon healthy families.  Let's never forget how important marriage is and nurture our marriages continuously.

I also wanted to tell you all about a new prayer initiative that we will be starting at MCC.  It is a concept that I found in Voddie Baucham's book, "Family Shepherds" and it is called a Prayer-gram.  The idea is to provide some structure for families in regard to prayer.  Hopefully, this tool will prove to help Husbands/Dads lead their families in prayer as well as help the church to be on the same page regarding prayer requests.  Here is a sample of what a Prayer-gram will look like.

Prayer-gram for January 20th-26th, 2014

People/Families of MCC:  Mincey's, Hill's, Carson's
Elders of MCC:  Ryan, Travis, Kasey, and Brad
Other Churches/Pastors/Ministries:  Carmel Baptist (Alex Kennedy), Elevation (Steven Furtick), YoungLife
Government Authorities:  President Obama, Governor Pat McCrory, Matthews Mayor Jim Taylor
Ends of the Earth/Missionaries:  Haiti (Mission of Hope),
Charlotte/Matthews: Pray for the Gospel to be spread in our city
World Issues:  Adoption
MCC Needs:  The Holy Spirit of God to anoint our church body, Building, Worship Pastor, to plant 50 churches in the next 40 years

How to use the Prayer-gram

There is not one specific way to use this tool.  The goal is simply to use it.  Some might use it at the dinner table, some might use it in the mornings, and some might use it at night before bed.  No matter how you use it, we just want to encourage you to use it.  As men, there is almost nothing more important than creating an environment of prayer in our homes.  We hope this tool encourages and empowers you to lead your home effectively and in conjunction with our church family.

One last thing… every Sunday we will pray through the Prayer-gram as a church family.  The idea is that we would pray as individuals/families throughout the week, and then come together as a church family on Sundays to pray together.  Then, we will send out the new Prayer-gram every Monday with new/updated information.  I am excited about this and I hope that it will be utilized in the homes of our families.

Thank you for allowing me to be your Pastor.  Myself, along with the elders feel priviliged and honored to serve you and lead you.

Grace and Peace,

Ryan

October 15, 2013

Christian Accountability: Calling UP or Calling OUT?


One of the buzz-words in the "Christian-ese" vocabulary is accountability.  Christians everywhere talk about it, few Christians actively pursue it, and even fewer Christians pursue it in a healthy way.  For many, accountability seems to be harsh and unloving.  For others, it is a good idea that is never actually practiced.  And for others, it is a soft, unsanctifying conversation where Christians basically encourage others that their sin is no big deal and they are simply forgiven.  In other words, I think the idea of accountability is being played out in unhealthy and unhelpful ways in the church.  This needs to stop.

The word "accountable" simply means, "to be required to explain actions or decision to someone." Accountability is often used in Christian circles, but it is not a "Christian" term.  Accountability is everywhere.  Teachers hold their students accountable for their schoolwork, police officers hold society accountable to keep the laws of the land, and mortgage companies hold homeowners accountable to pay their mortgages.  If we fail to turn in a paper on the due date, we will have to explain to our teacher why it is late.  If we go 55 mph in a 35 mph zone, we will be required to explain our actions to the police officer (and hopefully get off with a warning). If we fail to pay our mortgage, we will have to answer to the bank.   Even if we tried, we would never be able to escape the concept of accountability.  Without accountability, society would crumble.  We need accountability to survive.

I would argue that the same is true for the Christian life.  Christians need accountability to keep us moving in the right direction spiritually, and without it, our spiritual lives have the potential to crumble.  The purpose of this post is to show the great need that all Christians have for accountability, as well as to offer some ideas for how accountability can be practiced that would lead to the sanctification of believers and add depth to their relationships for the glory of God.

The structure of this post will be to ask the big questions around the subject of accountability and then answer them in the most succinct way possible.  Here we go...

What Scriptures Point us Toward Accountability?
  • Hebrews 10:24-25 - "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near."
  • Proverbs 27:17 - "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another."
  • Hebrews 3:13 - "But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin."
  • Ephesians 4:15 - "Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,"
  • Ephesians 4:25 - "Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another."
  • Galatians 6:1-2 - "Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."
  • James 5:16 - "Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working."
  • James 5:19-20 - "My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins."
  • Colossians 3:16 - "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God."
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:11 - "Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing."
  • Proverbs 12:15 - "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice."


Why Do Christians Need Accountability?

In my opinion, there are basically two reasons why Christians need accountability:  Sanctification and Witness
  1. Sanctification - Simply stated, we need accountability because our hearts are wicked and we need to be sanctified (to become more like Jesus).  Jeremiah 17:9 says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?" and Psalm 51:5 says, "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me."  Obviously, God's Word teaches us that our hearts are sinful and bent toward ourselves (even if we have been born again, we will always battle our flesh).  One of the most amazing gifts God has given us to lead us away from ourselves and toward the fulfillment of the Great Commandment is community.  God created us to live in the context of community, and by doing so, we help each other by pointing out each other’s "blind spots" (sinful areas of our lives that we do not see) so that they might be confessed and repented of.  Our individual pursuit of holiness is exponentially better when community and accountability are highly valued in one’s life.
  2. Witness - God has set His people apart for the purpose of reflecting Him to a world that does not know Him.  God has always been and still is concerned about bringing those who are far from Him near to Him.  It is far better for Christians to see the sin in each other’s lives and encourage each other out of it than for the world to look at Christians and simply call us hypocrites.  Accountability helps shape us into the people God has called us to be so that we might make His name revered among those who do not yet know Him. 

Why Do "Accountability Relationships" so often Fail?

As sinful humans, all of our relationships tend to move toward disarray without the power of the Holy Spirit.  Accountability relationships are no different.  I have come up a with a list of 5 reasons that I think accountability relationships might fail:

1.     Mixed Up Priorities – Too often people look for “accountability partners.”  Let me be clear about something:  IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR AN ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER, STOP LOOKING!  The first step to having accountability is not to find an accountability partner, it’s to find community.  Accountability is a natural bi-product of authentic community.  If we get accountability before we are experiencing authentic community, we are sure to fail.  Trust in any relationship takes time to develop, especially in accountability relationships where the goal is to be vulnerable.  Keep your priorities in line and find true Christian community, and then from there seek out accountability.
2.     Calling OUT instead of calling UP – In my experience with accountability, there seems to be a great desire (for men especially) to get in each others’ faces and tell people how sinful they are.  In other words, people think accountability is about calling people OUT.  If this has been your experience, I just want to say, “I’m sorry.”  This is not the proper way to enter into accountability relationships.  Accountability is more about encouragement than truth telling.  It is more about calling people UP as opposed to calling them OUT.  Accountability is about hope because the Gospel is about hope.  We have to encourage each other and give each other hope that Jesus is not done working on us.  No matter what we have done, no matter what we will ever do, God could never love us more and never love us less.  This is grace and grace is what motivates change.  Rather than calling OUT, we should call each other UP and remind each other of the hope of the Gospel for a transformed life that honors God.  We need to “stir one another up toward love and good works,” not bash each other for our sin.
3.     Harshness – As I stated earlier, our Christian growth is not going to take place because we will get yelled at if we mess up.  That is behavior modification at best (and religious).  Our Christian growth will occur as we desire to know Jesus, be like Jesus, and reflect Jesus to the world.  It is a matter of the heart being transformed.  Being harsh with each other will most likely cause negative Christian growth and damage the relationship at the same time.  Remember, it is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance.
4.     Softness – Just like being too harsh will not help anyone become more like Jesus, being too soft will not be helpful either.  If we are doing accountability with no truth, it will be pointless.  If we don’t make each other painfully aware of the call to holiness that God has placed on our lives, we are not helping each other.  We simply cannot look at each other and say, “Hey man, its ok… Jesus died for that sin so you are forgiven.  It’s no big deal.”  Sin is a big deal!  Such a big deal that the Creator of everything died to make His creation right again!  If we fail to speak honestly about the need for sin killing, then there is no purpose in our accountability and we prove that we don’t care about that person’s sanctification.  God is serious about His people killing sin and He has called us to help each other in the process. 
5.     Lack of intentionality – Accountability has to have structure.  Structure calls for intentionality.  Whatever method of accountability we implement into our lives, we have to be consistent and intentional.  Because accountability can be embarrassing, we have to approach with a degree of structure that causes it to be a regular occurrence in one’s life.   If we fail to be consistent, the relationship will naturally drift away from dealing with difficult topics. Accountability takes time, but it is well worth the investment.


Why Are More People Not Pursuing Accountability?

Many Christians are not pursuing accountability at all and I would offer 3 reasons as to why this might be happening:

  1. Uninformed – I truly believe that many Christians don’t know how to “do accountability” in a healthy way so they just avoid it altogether.  This is a matter of discipleship and unfortunately, it seems to be one issue of many that Christians have not been taught how to implement into their lives. 
  2. Guilt and Shame – Because we fail to remember the beauty of the Gospel and that we are completely forgiven and made righteous because of Jesus, we allow guilt and shame to govern our decisions.  So many people are ashamed of what they have done or how they are currently living that is causes them to detach themselves and live a private life.  This plays directly into Satan’s plan to isolate and destroy the lives of every person on earth.  If the Gospel is true (and it is) then we have no reason to be ashamed because our sinfulness is an opportunity to allow Jesus to look wonderful!  Don’t let guilt and shame about your past or present be a stumbling block in your Christian walk… allow yourself to enter into loving community and from there be vulnerable and accountable.  It is a step toward health and wholeness.
  3. Pride – We hate to look bad.  The main reason we are not honest about our shortcomings is because our pride will simply not allow us to say that we are anything but perfect.  Once we can kill the pride in our lives and become vulnerable with others, God will do amazing things in our lives.  Remember, God exalts the humble.  


Why Should Christians be Intentional About Accountability?

Christians should be intentional about accountability for 3 reasons:
  1. We care about our own sanctification – We want to become more like Jesus and we are willing to ask others to help us in our journey.
  2. We care about the sanctification of others – We want to help others become more like Jesus and we are willing to enter into their lives, no matter how messy it may be, in order to help them in their journey.
  3. We care about the glory of God – We want the character of God to be reflected through His people so that those who do not yet know Him would be drawn to Him and worship Him.

What are Some Methods of Accountability that Actually Work?

Practically speaking, accountability might look very different depending on time, personality, availability, geographic location, etc.  The important thing to remember is that it doesn’t have to look a certain way, but it needs to be happening in your life if you are a Christian.  I want to offer 5 possibilities for how you can make this a regular part of your life. 

Once you have established authentic, Christian relationships, try out one or some of these methods and see how they work for you. 


Method #1 – 4 Simple Questions

In this method, you give a list of 4 questions to an accountability partner or an accountability group and arrange a time where you can be asked these questions.  For example, this method might look like this:
  1. How was your relationship with the Lord this week?
  2. What is the current state your marriage?
  3. Do you have any sin that you need to confess this week?
  4. What ways did you see the hand of God at work in your life this week?

The questions may vary, but they should be specific to your life and your areas of desired growth.

Method #2 – Phone Calls

In this method, you intentionally arrange a calendar where people call each other on different days to check in with each other is certain areas of life.  For example, if there is a Community Group of six men (Bill, Tom, Greg, Sam, Dave, and Bob) they might each call each other throughout the week to discuss the areas of accountability.  The calendar might look like this:
  • “Marriage Monday” – this phone call is designed to encourage each other to love, lead, and serve their wives and to represent Christ in their homes.  Phone Calls:  Bill calls Tom, Greg calls Sam, and Dave calls Bob.
  • “In the Word Wednesday” – this phone call is designed to encourage each other to make the time to read and study God’s Word and to make it a priority in their lives.  Phone Calls:  Tom calls Greg, Same calls Dave, Bob calls Bill
  • “Finance Friday” – this phone call is designed to encourage each other to use God’s resources in the right way and to make sure that money/work is not an idol in their lives.  Phone Calls:  Bill calls Sam, Tom calls Dave, and Greg calls Bob

The questions will vary depending on the people involved.  These are just meant to serve as examples of what questions or topics could be discussed.

Method #3 – Partners

Sometimes people have a strong relationship with one other person and they decide to meet regularly to pray and be open with each other.  This is a great way to maintain accountability and it might look like: 
  • Talking about struggles with sin
  • Praying for each other
  • Reading the Bible together
  • Asking each other desired questions
  • Memorizing Scripture together
  • Etc.  
This is a very personal and relational approach that works well when someone is not involved in a Community Group or if a Community Group decides to assign accountability/prayer partners.

Method #4 – Fill Out a Report and e-mail

A great way to be intentional about accountability is to create a list of questions and then e-mail your answers to your Community Group or accountability partner every week.  This method takes a little more time but allows the person filling out the answers to really meditate on his/her week and creates great conversation when those reading it follow up with anything that needs to be talked about. The questions will vary depending on the person.

Method #5 – Community Group Open Discussion

Another way to pursue accountability is through your Community Group meetings.  You can structure your meetings so that you make time every week or every month to ask each other your desired questions.  This method takes a lot of vulnerability and honestly but can also produce a great amount of closeness within a group if done correctly.


One last note:  Accountability is not easy.  It takes sacrifice, intentionality, vulnerability, and time, but it is worth the effort.  We need each other as we walk through the Christian life.  We were not created to live life alone.

Romans 8:13 – For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.