What are gracious accountability groups? How do they function?
Last time, we discussed why are gracious accountability groups important. We reference three of Jesus teachings in Matthew and how He and also John Wesley used this type of group to make disciples of Jesus – disciples that make disciples. This time we will discuss the “how” of gracious accountability groups – what are some useful models to consider (there are several) in designing groups for your church. Also, what are some ideas and reference books for you to consider in your decision making process. Definition First, let’s define gracious accountability discipleship groups in more detail:
- Members hold each other graciously accountable to their walk with God, and to a jointly developed covenant that becomes the agenda for each meeting.
- This covenant could be one of the following:
- Wesley’s question: “How is it with your soul this week?” or a variation of that question
- The General Rule of Discipleship: “To witness to Jesus Christ in the world and to follow His teachings through acts of compassion, justice, worship, and devotion under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.”
- A covenant written by the group members themselves, tailored to their current needs in deepening their walk with God
- Another developed covenant to be used as an agenda for this purpose, such as used by Emmaus Reunion groups
- Group meetings could take the form of Wesley Class Meetings, Covenant Discipleship Groups, Emmaus Reunion Groups, or another format, as long as:
- The purpose of the groups is to hold each other graciously accountable to a deepening relationship with God through specific acts and that become new Godly habits. While books may be a part of understanding the process, Accountability Groups are not book studies or Bible studies, but focus their discussions on the state of the participant’s souls.
- Groups typically meet weekly.
- Bible study groups
- Fellowship groups
- Adult Sunday School classes
- Or, groups that “check the box” in a mechanical way to make sure we have each done what we said we would do.
- How is your walk with God this week?
- How have you experienced God this week?
- How has God engaged to? Or excited you?
- How have you been disappointed or angry with God this week?
- What are the prayers of your soul today?
- Where do you want to experience God more deeply?
- Where have you experience the Kingdom of God this week?
- How has God dwelt with you this week?
- What has God revealed this week?
- What do you need to work on?
- What is holding you back?
- The United Methodist Rule of Life, which unpacks Wesley’s Three General Rules, and also states the General Rule of Discipleship mentioned in the Class Meeting section above
- Covenant Discipleship Groups, which briefly discusses these groups
- Accountable Discipleship: Living in God’s Household by Steven W. Manskar
- The Radical Wesley: Patterns and Practices of a Movement Maker by Howard Snyder
- John & Charles Wesley: Selections from their Writings and Hymns – Annotated and Explained by Paul W. Chilcote
- The Early Methodist Class Meeting: Its Origins and Significance by David Lowes Watson
- Recapturing the Wesley’s Vision: An Introduction to the Faith of John and Charles Wesley by Paul W. Chilcote
- Praying in the Wesleyan Spirit: 52 Prayers for Today by Paul W. Chilcote
- Wesley and the People Called Methodists by Richard P. Heitzenrater
- A Perfect Love: Understanding John Wesley’s ‘A Plain Account of Christian Perfection’ by Steven W. Manskar
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