5 Reasons Churches Should Build Accountability Into Small Groups

I am a fan of small groups for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons is the fact that we all need accountability in our lives and small groups provide an excellent avenue for that accountability. Here 5 reasons why I believe churches should build accountability into small groups.

1- We still struggle with the flesh.

We all have sins with which we struggle. Temptation comes our way daily. This spiritual battle is real and requires a battle plan. Godly accountability should be part of that battle plan as it helps us live the life to which God has called us.

2- The Bible teaches that accountability should be present in our lives.

Hebrews 10:24 instructs us to “be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works.” In Luke 17:3 Jesus tells his disciples to “pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.” James 5:16 instructs the believer to “confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another.” Proverbs 27:17 says that “iron sharpens iron.” Many verses such as I Thessalonians 5:11 instruct Christians to edify one another. Edify not only means to encourage but also to exhort.

While the word “accountability” is not specifically mentioned in any of these verses, it is how these verses are accomplished. If we remove accountability from the Christian life, we fail to do what these verses instruct.

3- Accountability is built into God’s created order.

God has built systems of accountability into all aspects of his creation. Each God-ordained institution is built upon systems of accountability. There is to be accountability in the home, in government, and in the church. Small groups provide a great way for accountability to be present in the lives of believers in the context of the church.

4- The church is presented as a place where accountability takes place.

The very existence of church discipline in Scripture shows there is to be accountability in the church. (Matthew 18; I Corinthians 5). There is certain authority to which church members are to submit (Hebrews 13:17). This all points to the church being a place where accountability takes place.

5- Accountability, when responded to correctly, leads to spiritual growth.

Why do the verses mentioned above teach the need for accountability? What is the purpose? The purpose is spiritual maturity. The goal is Christ-likeness. If we respond correctly to loving, godly accountability it will always lead to spiritual growth.

We all need accountability in our lives. While we may not like it, while it may be uncomfortable, and while we may be tempted to run from it, God has designed us to need it. The presence of spiritual accountability fuels spiritual growth.

6 Things Small Groups Help Accomplish

As I have been reading and studying over the past several months it has become clear that there are a variety of purposes that a small group ministry could have. Each church must give careful thought to the role that small groups will play in their ministry. Without careful thought, planning, and communication, small groups will not work–well, they might survive, but they won’t thrive.

Here are some of the purposes that small groups can have.

1- Discipleship/Accountability

Some churches use small groups as the discipleship arm of the church. These small groups are designed to be the place where people hold each other accountable. These groups supplement the worship service and provide a more personal avenue for spiritual growth.

2- Evangelism

Some small groups are solely evangelistic in nature. The goal of these groups is to constantly be inviting unbelievers to the small group meeting so that they can be introduced to others in the church. The thinking is that as the visitor becomes more comfortable and gets to know others in the church, he/she will be more likely to visit the church.

3- Teaching

Other churches use small groups as the teaching time of the church. There is a curriculum that is used with the goal of giving spiritual instruction. Some of these small groups meet on Sunday (Sunday School), while others meet during the week.

4- Application

Some churches view small groups not as a teaching time, not as an avenue for evangelism, and not even as a place for discipleship and accountability, but a time to specifically apply the sermon from the previous Sunday. It is impossible for the pastor to apply the message to every life. These small groups help remedy that.

5- Building Community

Other churches have separate discipleship groups as well as time for teaching, but lack a time for fellowship and building community. These churches create small groups that are specifically focused on building community and providing opportunities for fellowship.

6- Community Projects & Member Care

Some churches use small groups as a way to facilitate community outreach projects as well as member care. It is a way of making the church smaller in order to help see that each member is taken care of as well as involved in reaching out into the community.

The Challenge

The challenge is that small groups can accomplish more than one of these purposes, but they cannot accomplish all of them. The responsibility of the church leaders is to know what the specific purposes of the small groups are, communicate the purpose frequently, and then implement the small groups, stressing how they help accomplish the overall purpose of the church.

If the church members do not know what the purpose of the small groups are, the leadership has done a poor job. Small groups can be a vital part of a church’s ministry, but they must be implemented correctly.

10 Reasons Churches Should Be Committed To Small Groups

I did not grow up in a church with a small group ministry, but I have become convinced of their necessity for the church in today’s culture. There is much I do not know and much I am learning about small group ministry. Suffice it to say that I am convinced of the ‘why’ while working out the details of the ‘how.’

Here are 10 reasons why churches should be committed to small groups. Each of these points are things that can and should take place as a result of small groups.

1- They foster relationships, which are crucial to spiritual growth. The church is about relationships–with God and with other believers. It is hard to foster these relationships during the 5 minutes before or after a worship service.

2- They provide avenues of accountability. God designed us to need accountability, however the worship service is not designed to provide it. Small groups do.

3- They are an effective way of reaching a postmodern society. Those who have grown up in a postmodern society are looking for authenticity, they thrive in genuine relationships, they love to ask and discuss hard questions, and they want to do so in a real-life setting. A small group ministry addresses these cultural realities in a biblically consistent way.

4- They foster authenticity. While it is easy to attend a worship service and wear a mask of hypocrisy, it is difficult to do so in a small group setting.

5- They supplement the worship service. The worship service cannot give the Christian everything he or she needs. The small group format provides a beneficial supplement.

6- Genuine fellowship cannot be practiced in a group of 1,000 or even 100. Biblical fellowship is a necessity, but this fellowship cannot be effectively practiced in large groups. Small groups help remedy this problem.

7- They provide opportunities for discipleship as well as outreach. Spiritual growth thrives in the small group environment. But they also provide opportunities for outreach. From members inviting unbelievers to the their small group to entire groups being involved in community projects, outreach can take place through these groups.

8- They promote mutual care, not just pastoral care. Christians are to care for each other. Far too many Christians walk into a service, sit, and then leave, never learning about the needs of others in the church or how to care for them. This is impossible in small groups.

9- Small groups help keep the church small. People generally like the atmosphere of small church. It resembles a family. However, as churches grow, sometimes that atmosphere is lost and people begin to feel disconnected. The small group ministry helps keep that atmosphere alive.

10- They model the early church. The above benefits are all characteristics of the early church. It cannot be ignored that they primarily functioned in smaller gatherings, not large groups.

While the application and implementation of small groups may vary from church to church, their benefits cannot be ignored. In fact, they should be pursued.