Gracious Accountability Groups
Rev. 23 May 2018
As disciples seeking to follow Jesus, we know an active, intentional discipleship approach is key to our growth and progressing in our faith journey. We yearn to follow Jesus more closely. How might we weave that yearning into our daily lives?
Gracious Accountability in our Wesleyan Tradition
John and Charles Wesley recognized the importance of having a supportive, yet challenging, structure to assist disciples in growing deeper in their faith and closer to God.
In response, they developed a system of weekly gracious accountability groups that they called Class Meetings and Band Meetings. We can use these same models today, modified as needed for our daily routines.
Actually, there are several different models of gracious accountability groups used within Methodism today: Class Meetings, Band Meetings, Emmaus Reunion Groups, and Covenant Discipleship Groups are examples.
While the groups have differences in their structure and purpose, they share one essential element: each group consists of members who wish to be held graciously accountable to a covenant that they have adopted or written together.
Our WNCCUMC Board of Laity believes strongly in the value of gracious accountability groups within local churches and has adopted a goal to have at least one active gracious accountability group in 80 percent of our WNCC churches by 2020.
Where do gracious accountability groups fit in the life of a congregation?
To help understand the role of gracious accountability groups within the congregation, let’s use an analogy that Jesus provided. Jesus said He was going to prepare a room for us in His Father’s house, which had many rooms.
So, let’s visualize a big mansion.
The front porch of the mansion serves as our welcoming place. There we find outreach ministries, such as Fresh Expression ministries, designed for and with those who don’t yet feel ready to “come inside.”
When we’re ready, we may choose to come inside and explore the mansion. Each room is filled with activity: vibrant worship and arts ministries, service and mission projects, Bible studies, United Methodist Men, United Methodist Women, and all types of adult, children and youth ministries. These are the places and activities where we join together with our broader faith community.
The back porch is where we find gracious accountability groups. The back porch is more intimate, more secluded, a safe space where we can gather weekly with a group of fellow disciples to hold each other accountable in gracious ways to our walk with God today, right now. It’s where we allow God to continue to mold us into the persons God intends for us to be.
Resources for learning more
To learn more about starting and maintaining gracious accountability groups, we recommend The Class Meeting, by Kevin Watson. It unpacks the value, history, and how to get started in eight easy chapters, with discussion questions at the end of each chapter.
Other suggested resources include:
- The Band Meeting, by Kevin Watson
- Disciples Making Disciples: Guide for Covenant Discipleship Groups and Class Leaders, by Steven W. Manskar
- The Emmaus movement
- Brochures and a booklet available from Discipleship Ministries (877) 899-2780
Accountability Group Mentors
Would you like to chat or email with someone who is experiencing the value of gracious accountability in their own life? Below is a list of individuals who are eager to walk along side of you as you explore these groups for you and your community.
Accountability Group Mentors List
Name Email District
Darryl Wilburn firstname.lastname@example.org Catawba
David Dunaway email@example.com Smoky Mountain
Eddie Foster firstname.lastname@example.org Yadkin Valley
Janet Neal email@example.com Yadkin Valley
Kenny Bumgarner firstname.lastname@example.org Appalachian
Martha Sharpe email@example.com Northern Piedmont
Neil Brown firstname.lastname@example.org Blue Ridge
Ron Ballard email@example.com Blue Ridge
Sue Jones firstname.lastname@example.org Smoky Mountain
Tim Hoffman email@example.com Yadkin Valley
Walter Vaughan firstname.lastname@example.org Catawba