I have come to believe that Christian Accountability, as modeled by John Wesley and reformed by present day Methodist scholars, is key to true Christian Discipleship and true Christian Community.Retired Bishop Kenneth Carder wrote, “Practicing the individual and corporate spiritual disciplines in a community of mutual support and accountability are means of being and becoming individuals and communities that reflect the gospel.”
In another article Bishop Carder clearly links Christian Discipleship and Christian Accountability,
“Christian discipleship requires being held in love and being held accountable. We simply cannot follow Christ apart from a community that holds us in compassion and calls us to accountability. Solitary discipleship is a misnomer. We cannot be Christian alone.”
Accountability can be a scary word for new believers, and even for long time Christians scared by judgmental and self-righteous congregations and leaders. But, I believe Bishop Carder’s formula addresses those fears and, if followed, eliminates judgment from the Christian Accountability.
According to Carder’s “formula,” we must hold each other in love and compassion before holding each other accountable. I would add to this that we must also have permission to hold a fellow Christian accountable. This accountability can come through a small group or a spiritual accountability partner. Whichever is more comfortable.
The danger of not being held to Christian Accountability is the possibility that we will only adopt those practices modeled by Christ that suit us personally. Accountability leads to growth and maturity. (A good resource for the small group model is Steven Manskar’s GBOD article “Small Groups & Accountability: The Wesleyan Way of Christian Formation” )
There is a beautiful Hebrew Kaballa teaching called Tikkun Olam, (which I will cover with a more in depth BLOG later) that teaches us the light of God is in all people and all events. Knowing this, we are called to bring out God’s light in others and in daily life. We are accountable to see the light in each other and to help each other bring magnify that light.
Loving accountability is too important to Christian Discipleship to be ignored. I encourage you to find or form an accountability group or partner in order to grow in the Grace and Light of Christ Jesus.