Let’s face it: it’s tough to open up to someone else, even if you trust them completely. It takes some fortitude to dive into some of the parts of yourself that are a little less than polished, and a good amount of humility to surface them into your life.
Even though it’s tough, accountability is the lynchpin of every discipleship group. Fortunately, there are a few ways you can make it easier to foster an atmosphere of accountability that is both natural and nurturing for the people in your group – and none of them involve anything more than ears ready to listen and a heart hoping to help.
So without further ado, here are two ways you can improve accountability in your discipleship group.
1) Create a Safe Environment
Here’s the bottom line: your group members are not going to open up to you if they don’t feel safe doing so.
The first thing you can do to help them feel comfortable is to lead the way in transparency. If your members see you sharing the ways in which you’re struggling, they’ll be more likely to open up themselves.
Even though it’s not necessarily fair, group members may tend to view the discipleship group leader as more spiritual than the rest of the group, like they’ve got it all together all the time. This puts undue pressure on both the leader and the group member: they’re both setting a standard that simply doesn’t exist.
When it comes to accountability, the standard is not perfection; it is transparency. Create the kind of confidential and encouraging environment where your group members feel comfortable not being perfect so that you can all work together to lift each other up and strive for Christlikeness.
2) Move Beyond the Surface
One of the easiest traps to fall into when it comes to accountability is the temptation to just skim the surface. “I had a rough week,” one of your members says. You sympathize and say, “Hey, that’s okay. We all have rough weeks. Next week is a fresh start and a way to do better!”
This response is a good start, but it only scratches the surface. You’ve made them feel comfortable sharing that they had a rough week, but the conversation doesn’t go beyond that.
Dive a little deeper into your discipleship group conversations by implementing the following strategies:
1. Ask Follow-Up Questions
Asking follow-up questions will show that you are personally invested in the specifics of your group members’ lives. You don’t just want to know broad details, you want to know them better so that they feel seen, heard, and understood.
Furthermore, asking follow-up questions about something your group member shares will help uproot the problem, struggle, or temptation they are facing.
2. Move From General to Personal and Specific
Don’t leave it at the ten-thousand-foot view. “I had a rough week” is a good starting place, but it should motivate you to drill down a little further into what that rough week actually looks like.
Take every opportunity your group gives you to help them share personal, specific details about whatever they are facing, whether it is good or bad.
3. Move From “What” Questions to “Why” Questions
Accountability is not about holding a gavel over the heads of your group members; it’s about extending a hand. You’re all in the same boat and you’re all looking out for each other even more than you’re looking out for yourselves.
It’s okay to get the “what’s” out of the way (What happened? What was your reaction? What would you have done differently?) in order to make way for the far more important “why’s” (Why do you think this happened? Why do you think you reacted that way?).
Only when you get to the root of an issue can you start working together to help your brother or sister grow.
Accountability Starts Here
As you create an atmosphere where your group members feel comfortable being open and transparent with one another, you will find that spiritual growth becomes exponential. Lead the way with grace and compassion and watch the group rise to the occasion to be better than it was before.
If you need help improving accountability in your discipleship group, be sure to check out our resources at replicate.org/dgroup.