Accountability partner(s)/group ???

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Accountability partner(s)/group ???

Postby Bare_Truth » Sat Nov 02, 2013 10:11 am

In a recent post here I saw yet another reference to an accountability group and some what previously I saw and asked about a reference to an accountability partner, and recently I did a search on the term and found several sites talkng about accountability partners and how to choose one.

In my 68 years I have only encountered the concept in the last year, so the current manifestation of this concept seems to me a new phenomenon in Christendom. Roman Catholics have a related phenomenon in the practice of confession to a priest but the 'Accountability Partner/Group" of course lacks the aspect of assignment of penance and absolution found in Roman Catholicism.

I am aware of the scripture
James 5:16
Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
But as to confessing faults, as addressed there, since the words "one" and "another" are both in the singular, I have always understood "one to another" as implying a "one on one", "personal", interaction with the one who has been hurt by the fault, and not some third party or parties. I see no mandate there for the accountabilit partner or group.

I see great potential for harm, oppression, and unwarranted censure, in the accountability partner/group concept. Indeed, in a group of naturist Christians, many if not most of whom attend churches which would not accept naturism and would disfellowship such persons, I think the abuses of such an accountability program would be obvious. Likewise if one could find another individual or group of naturists within the larger congregation and form an accountability relationship that way, it would lead to diverse parties within the congregation and be a destructive force. Should an elder/minister/deacon/etc. be a required feature of accountability groups, then the risk of a hierarchical dictatorship becomes all but inherent.

An additional question arises in the matter privileged communication, such as:
-- lawyer and client,
-- physician and patient,
-- "seal of the confessional",
-- Husband & Wife.
Does the Accountably Partner/Group, have any claim to such legal protections.

In summary:
-- I simply do not see any historical basis for what appears to me to be a contemporary innovation.
-- Am I missing something here?
-- Has my research on this matter been skewed by the sites I happened to land on?
-- Is this really an innovation or have I missed some historic manifestation with a sound doctrinal basis?
-- Is this a manifestation or a corruption of the principle of seeking wise council?


I will be most interested in what comments are offered.
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Re: Accountability partner(s)/group ???

Postby Ramblinman » Sat Nov 02, 2013 10:49 am

Where's the "Like" button in this forum?
I like what you just posted! It addresses the risks quite specifically.

To answer your question, No! Accountability groups seem to be based upon a misapplication of several scriptures.

Home cell groups - Meeting for prayer and Bible study with a few neighbors who attend your church. In itself it is beneficial and scriptural. Absolutely no practical need and no scriptural mandate to tell "deep dark secrets" to others who may not have earned the right to your trust.

Confessing sins to one another is badly misinterpreted by churches in the Shepherding Movement.
If I have sinned against you, you already know that I am guilty of it.
I am simply repenting of it and privately asking your forgiveness.
That is the intent of the passage.

There are churches that bully parishioners to tell people they scarcely know things of an unbelievably sensitive nature.

Without context, much that we say could be twisted against us and yes, used as a tool to micro-manage every thing we do.

This takes Christian churches into some of the tactics that cults use to control their members.
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Re: Accountability partner(s)/group ???

Postby webmeister » Sat Nov 02, 2013 11:10 am

Ramblinman wrote:Home cell groups - Meeting for prayer and Bible study with a few neighbors who attend your church. In itself it is beneficial and scriptural. Absolutely no practical need and no scriptural mandate to tell "deep dark secrets" to others who may not have earned the right to your trust.

Confessing sins to one another is badly misinterpreted by churches in the Shepherding Movement.
If I have sinned against you, you already know that I am guilty of it.
I am simply repenting of it and privately asking your forgiveness.
That is the intent of the passage.

There are churches that bully parishioners to tell people they scarcely know things of an unbelievably sensitive nature.



I have always had a problem, for one example in men's groups, where guys confess secrets, or are asked to confess secrets. I would need another person as a long time trusted friend with whom one I have a trusting relationship in order to confess my secrets. Not sure if God will grant me a friend like that someday but would welcome it.

As mentioned in this strip, it has become almost a mainstream thing for people to open themselves up to the congregation...then all is well, the person feels better, and NOW everyone knows your secret and the whispering starts, that is just the true nature of people!
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Re: Accountability partner(s)/group ???

Postby bn2bnude » Sat Nov 02, 2013 12:17 pm

I had typed up a reply to B_T but it seems didn't hit submit...

If you look at it on the surface, accountability groups/parters work great. I think it seems to work relatively well in groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (and their other Anonymous groups).

A couple of thoughts, however.

I think that the strength of accountability groups/partners is really the aspect of community and relationship. This is something that is nearly forgotten in todays "American" culture. When we do have that sort of community, we don't often do this so well.

I appreciated the posts above. My fear (sometimes applied sometimes not) with Accountability groups is that it's often "shame based" and can lead to "sin management*" rather than actual from the heart change.




* A quick definition of "sin management" - changing your actions from external rather than internal desire. In other words, often we tell our children "Don't have sex" because you may get pregnant or because you may get an STD -- external desire, not bad reasons but not the real reason.
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Re: Accountability partner(s)/group ???

Postby Petros » Sat Nov 02, 2013 12:26 pm

The Spiritual Adviser role is, I think, closer than father confessor - and of course there is the psychoanalyst's analyst.

The monastic chapter for a larger group... the relationship between Abba / disciple is a bit different.

In any case, the key is discernment, in determining to whom and how you relate. The range of partners / advisers who could fti me / whom I could fit is rather small.
The truth, the stark naked truth, the truth without so much as a loincloth on, should surely be the investigator's sole aim - Basil Chamberlain
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Re: Accountability partner(s)/group ???

Postby webmeister » Sat Nov 02, 2013 1:04 pm

It has been shown that verbally "confessing" to someone can provided relief of bad feeling of oneself, those in that professional field can vouch for that, however, again (I'll say this in general ok?) people cannot be trusted with what you tell them. In addition, many do not know how to listen... That is why it takes a very special person or trusted friend...sometimes hard to come by...:)
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Re: Accountability partner(s)/group ???

Postby Ramblinman » Sat Nov 02, 2013 1:40 pm

At my church, after everyone had an opportunity to voice public prayer concerns, the pastor would then pause and ask, "Are there any unspoken requests?".
Typically several hands went up and he said, "If you ask anything that is in accordance with God's will, our prayers unite with yours and the Lord will hear those prayers without the rest of us knowing the details".
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Re: Accountability partner(s)/group ???

Postby Bare_Truth » Sat Nov 02, 2013 2:05 pm

bn2bnude wrote:...... I think it seems to work relatively well in groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (and their other Anonymous groups).
I had the same thought, however on further analysis, I recognized that Alcoholics Anonymous is very different. In AA all the members are dealing with the same underlying sin, namely drunkenness. In a situation where all share the same underlying sin, then even widespread knowledge of membership in the group can have a social consequence. There is a very strong motivation for upholding the privileged communication aspect. That motivation could be overridden when someone in the group admits to a sin that is "not as evil as the other member's sin" So if x admits that he has a problem with foul language and hears y comment to z that naturism is not a sin to be repented of, that is when x may think it necessary to take it to the deacon's and elder's meeting.

bn2bnude wrote:......My fear (sometimes applied sometimes not) with Accountability groups is that it's often "shame based" .....
I'll cast a vote for that concern also

bn2bnude wrote:......* A quick definition of "sin management" - changing your actions from external rather than internal desire. In other words, often we tell our children "Don't have sex" because you may get pregnant or because you may get an STD -- external desire, not bad reasons but not the real reason.
There are those who advocate this sin management approach with the comment "beliefs follow behavior" but fortunately that is not true or we might never have seen the protestant reformation. Forced beavior might suppress the forbidden belief or desire, but in the end it can never totally extinguish it in everyone.
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Re: Accountability partner(s)/group ???

Postby Ramblinman » Sat Nov 02, 2013 2:15 pm

In summary, I think that building a community within a church is up to us, it must be. You can't have the church artificially create some group of strangers and expect you to trust all of them right away with your private life.

We had plenty of people betray trust again and again. Some guys deliberately seek out church people because they tend to be more trusting.
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Re: Accountability partner(s)/group ???

Postby Bare_Truth » Sat Nov 02, 2013 2:15 pm

And for a moment of comic relief in the midst of a serious topic......
Petros wrote:.....The range of partners / advisers who could fit me / whom I could fit is rather small.
Why am I not surprised :lol: :P

Well, Ok, I could so easily say the same about myself. I suppose that is why the whole "Accountability Group/Partner" thing scares the pants off of me ......... Oh wait, .... That is not such an unexpected thing for a naturist :wink:.

All right! Enough levity for now, let us return to the serious examination of the matter.
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Re: Accountability partner(s)/group ???

Postby Bare_Truth » Sat Nov 02, 2013 2:19 pm

Ramblinman wrote:..... You can't have the church artificially create some group of strangers and expect you to trust all of them right away with your private life.....
I am not even sure that you can pick one or more non-strangers and really expect them to be wholly trustworthy.
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Re: Accountability partner(s)/group ???

Postby Ramblinman » Sat Nov 02, 2013 2:22 pm

Bare_Truth wrote:
Ramblinman wrote:..... You can't have the church artificially create some group of strangers and expect you to trust all of them right away with your private life.....
I am not even sure that you can pick one or more non-strangers and really expect them to be wholly trustworthy.


I have corresponded with a naturist guy who asked a "friend" from church to keep quiet about the fact that he was a naturist. Instead, she said she was duty-bound to go to the pastor to report his "sin", which she did.
All done in the spirit of Christian love.
The pastor and deacons kicked him out of the church.
All in a spirit of Christian love, of course.
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Re: Accountability partner(s)/group ???

Postby webmeister » Sat Nov 02, 2013 3:15 pm

Ramblinman wrote:
Bare_Truth wrote:
Ramblinman wrote:..... You can't have the church artificially create some group of strangers and expect you to trust all of them right away with your private life.....
I am not even sure that you can pick one or more non-strangers and really expect them to be wholly trustworthy.


I have corresponded with a naturist guy who asked a "friend" from church to keep quiet about the fact that he was a naturist. Instead, she said she was duty-bound to go to the pastor to report his "sin", which she did.
All done in the spirit of Christian love.
The pastor and deacons kicked him out of the church.
All in a spirit of Christian love, of course.



"Pastor Pastor guess what oh and can you help me get this log out of my own eye"...stories like this are upsetting and make me feel so bad for churches...Well if he had stayed they would have tried to pray that he lose the sin of naturism...:(
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Re: Accountability partner(s)/group ???

Postby jochanaan » Sat Nov 02, 2013 8:36 pm

They used to be called "friends." :)

Unless done with love, and truly and only to build friendships, "accountability" degenerates into exactly the sort of gossip and sniping that the Book of Proverbs so often condemns.
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Re: Accountability partner(s)/group ???

Postby Petros » Sun Nov 03, 2013 1:47 am

I am suddenly reminded of the old saying [no, NOT from the Desert Fathers, nor yet from East Africa, but I do refer to it rather often:

"Three can keep a secret - if two of them are dead"

But even then you have to bear in mind the story of King Midas And the donkey ears.
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