"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." (Prov. 27:17)
"Carry each others' burdens . . . and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." (Gal. 6:2)
"Be very careful, then, how you live . . ." (Eph. 5:15)
"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." (Heb. 11:24-25)
To experience true accountability, we have both the right and the responsibility to ask each other hard and to-the-point questions. Our goal must be not just to help each other feel good, but to help each other be good. The following questions are only suggestions. You may add and subtract as you wish. The point is not legalism, but checking in with each other in a meaningful way.
l. What are the biggest barriers to your relationship with God?
2. What are the biggest barriers to your relationship with your wife?
3. What are the most serious temptations you face at home? At work? Elsewhere?
4. If Satan were to wage an all-out attack on your life, what area(s) would he focus on? (What are your greatest points of vulnerability? For example, sexual impurity, financial irresponsibility, dishonesty, greed, pride, etc.)
5. How can your brothers help you and pray for you?
If there's more than two or three men, not all of the following can be asked of each man each week. Even when asked, the answer may be brief. The point is not to always answer each question but to regularly bring up each area and thereby give opportunity for sharing. Don't let more than a few weeks go by without discussing any of these areas. (You may wish to add questions of your own.)
1. What have you learned or memorized this week from God's Word? (Share a specific passage.)
2. What happened this week that put you to the test? How did you respond?
3. How are you doing in your relationship with God? (Be specific—time in the Word, prayer, sense of dependence on the Lord, etc.)
4. How are you doing in your relationship with your wife? (Be specific—communication, spiritual sharing, conflict resolution, etc.)
5. How are you doing in your relationships with your children? Or parents? Other key people?
6. How are you doing in your relationships at work or school?
7. How are you doing with your thought life? This week did you consistently keep your thoughts and actions pure before God? (If the answer is "yes", ask "Are you lying?")
8. What kind of a ministry did you have this week? Whom did you share Christ with, either directly or indirectly? Or, how did you use your gifts and resources to help the needy?
9. How can the others pray specifically for you this week?
10. Anything else you'd like to share? (questions or issues you're dealing with?)
Be sure to allow time for each others' input, for expressing your praise to God for the things He's doing, and for prayer. This need not always be long, since you'll be praying for each other during the week (right?). If you're in a restaurant, you can pray right at your table, or go elsewhere. Once in a while you might want to spend a whole morning in prayer or sharing in a more private environment.
You can determine whether you'd like someone to get you started each week, or you can try leaving it open so whoever wishes can take the initiative. Some weeks certain ones will need to share more than others. But be sure that each guy has ample opportunity to share each week, or at least over the long run. We must all consciously discipline ourselves to stick with our purpose—we're not here just to chit-chat but to help each other live for Christ.
If someone is unusually quiet or tending to miss your meetings, be sure to take the initiative and encourage him to share—it may be his time of greatest need. (When we don't feel like sharing or answering the questions it's often when we most need to.) We must reach out to each other even when—or especially when—we sense someone drawing back.
Accountability groups are not a new concept. John Wesley and the early Methodists used them over 200 years ago. Members of the small group were expected to agree to six common disciplines or commitments. These are the commitments, as recorded in The Works of John Wesley:
1. To meet once a week, at the least.
2. To come punctually at the hour appointed, not missing without some extraordinary reason.
3. To begin (those of us who are present) exactly at the hour, with singing or prayer.
4. To speak each of us in order, freely and plainly, the true state of our souls, with the faults we have committed in thought, word or deed, and the temptations we have felt since our last meeting.
5. To end every meeting with prayer suited to the state of each person present.
6. To desire some person among us to speak his own state first, and then to ask the rest, in order, as many and as searching questions as may be, concerning their state, sins and temptations.
Browse more resources on the topic of purity, and see Randy's book The Purity Principle and his booklet Sexual Temptation.