The Necessity of Accountability
..a critical oversight in discipleship is the necessity of accountability.
The Discipleship Conference in the Atlanta area was a great time! Just being with brethren from various parts of the country was worth the trip alone.
In the Alumni class, Sam covered the Cost of Discipleship. Since then, we’ve received requests from pastors for the Cost of Discipleship curriculum. A pastor in our area has also requested to meet with us to revisit their approach to discipleship in their local church.
Pastor Troy Stogsdill, Pastor Tony Godfrey and I spent the morning sessions presenting the Philosophy of Discipleship to pastors and church leaders who were newly being exposed to it. The time spent with them was very productive. We fielded some great questions and enjoyed discussions after the classes.
Having had time to debrief and consider the feedback, my biggest observation would be this: For many churches, a critical oversight in discipleship is the necessity of accountability.
..accountability is always at the heart of stewardship.
Accountability is the practice of giving an account for our actions. And few things reduce discipleship to nothing more than another program on the church menu like the absence of accountability. Having to exercise accountability in discipleship as a teacher can be uncomfortable to the point where we simply excuse it away. However, biblically speaking, accountability is always at the heart of stewardship.
Luke 16:1 And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. 2 And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship ; for thou mayest be no longer steward.
Whether it be resources or the knowledge we’ve acquired, we are accountable to God with respect to how He’s entrusted us. But one of the problems with accountability today is that it is counter-cultural. Getting people to take responsibility for their actions is much easier said than done. The prevalent mindset today is if someone is living beneath the standard of God’s Word, it must be because of something beyond their control. For the believer, that perspective is counter-biblical, because the Bible says, “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Rom 14:12). An underlying theme of the Judgment Seat of Christ is accountability.
No believer can ever successfully justify sinful behavior because of something beyond the scope of their control (Jam 1:12-15). This brings us to the necessity of accountability in discipleship. As a rule, we never apologize where the Bible is unapologetically clear. Now, it is wise to season that position with love and grace, but that must be done without compromising what the Bible clearly says.
Accountability to the four goals is, among many other things, a safeguard.
Often, the integrity of discipleship is compromised when the four goals are treated as suggestions instead of biblical mandates. Regardless of our intentions, if we lose sight of the four goals and do not hold believers accountable to them, we are not discipling them. One of the reasons discipleship never gained footing in some churches is because after we communicated to them the Philosophy of Discipleship, people went through 16 Bible studies, but were never directly held accountable to the four goals. From there, it was tragically concluded that this discipleship “program” doesn’t work. Accountability is not comfortable or easy, but to remove it from the discipleship process would be like removing the wings from an airplane and expecting it fly.
A good discipleship practice is to consistently point the believer back to the four goals. This reinforces that the goals are important, but it also reminds the believer of the purpose behind meeting regularly. Whenever it is necessary to have an accountability discussion in discipleship, the issue communicated should be that there is a pattern of behavior in their life that is in conflict with one or more of the four goals.
In response to our presentation of the four goals and the level of accountability to them that the discipleship process calls for, I sensed from some at the conference, a spirit of, “We can actually do that?”
Not only can we do that, if we’re going to make true disciples of Jesus Christ, we must! Accountability to the four goals is, among many other things, a safeguard. It protects both the teacher and the student from wasting invaluable time. Just as we don’t want to simply hold services on Sunday mornings, we are disinterested in simply taking people through discipleship lessons without seeing them established in the four goals.
Therefore, the necessity of accountability in discipleship is paramount.