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I was first introduced to the concept of a small accountability group during the time when the Promise Keepers movement was big news. I understand the importance of such a group. After all, the members of the group are to:

  • Pray for each other.
  • Help share each other’s burdens.
  • Encourage one another in their walk and in their relationships.
  • Hold each other accoutable.

But I never found myself in a real accountability group until a few years ago, when we had one, sort of, in combination with a men’s Bible study. However, after we finished the book we were looking at, the Bible study ended, and there was no continuation of the group. It is something I wanted, something I needed, but nothing really formed. Even when I was in the group, it was hard, because I know there’s not a whole lot of folks like me. IT folks in general are generally misunderstood and then when you throw faith on top of it, it’s just not a common combination. Therefore, it can be hard for others to understand what I’m thinking, how I’m thinking, etc. That makes it hard to have a solid accountability group because how do you bear the burdens of someone whom you really don’t understand very well?

After a lot of prayer, I felt God leading me to reach out to a group of men similar to me that I knew and just talk via email. The group started sharing a bit more via email, via Twitter, and some via phone. It started to have the feel of an accountability group, but without the gathering together and without the accountability. All of us are technologists and we’re scattered all over the East Coast of the United States. Getting together regularly in a physical location is not an option. But I really felt like God was saying, “You guys should be forming a group.” And that’s where technology comes in.

We have access to LiveMeeting, which is Microsoft’s on-line meeting solution. So we scheduled a meeting via LM, gathered together, and had a virtual meeting to discuss the group and where we wanted to go with it. Now, if you don’t have access to LiveMeeting or a similar technology, a lot of cell phone carriers are making it free for you to call other cell phones. So if you can conference everyone in, you can at least getting everyone talking together. In our case, LiveMeeting permits us access to upload slides which everyone can see, to turn our webcams on (and the guys saw how much hair I now have… still working towards donating again for Locks of Love), and to do whiteboarding and the use of a text editor like function to write notes everyone can see.

I put together a small agenda, which was basically:

  • Meet and greet
  • Opening prayer
  • 3 Minute Turbo Testimony Time – So everyone could know each other’s salvation experience.
  • Open discussion
  • Short devotional – We used Hebrews 10:23-25
  • Discussion of the covenant
  • Intercessory prayer
  • Closing prayer

 

The rules on the 3 Minute Turbo Testimony were:

  • 3 Minutes
  • No Churchy words
  • No worse than PG-rated

 

And the covenant we agreed to with each other are:

  1. I will pray for each brother in this covenant.
  2. I will be open and honest with my brothers who I have made this covenant with for the purposes of accountability. I will hold my brothers accountable according to God’s standard.
  3. I will not share what I have learned from my covenant brothers unless I’m given permission or unless I feel someone is in danger of being harmed or has been harmed, including my brother.

 

During this time we discussed what was going on each other’s lives, where we were struggling, books we’ve read recently that have inspired us, and things going on in some of the activities some of us share together. It was a great start. Now the proof we’ll be how well we do as a group in the days ahead. Accountability is a big thing. As a result, we’ll look to ask some form of the following questions every time we get together:

  • Are you spending time alone with God?
  • Is your thought life pure?
  • Are you misusing your power?
  • Are you walking in total obedience to God?
  • Have you lied about any of the previous questions?

This list comes directly from Promise Keepers and other groups I’ve known about have used these to hold each other accountable. The first time we’ll put into use is at our next meeting. But knowing that I will have to answer to these questions when next we meet will be an extra reason to resist doing things that would cause me to have answer these questions in a way I wouldn’t want to and “face the music” of my brothers who will be holding me accountable. And that, to me, is an encouragement and a blessing.

Let me close this post on the size of the group. Accountability groups are supposed to be small. That way you can really get to know the men who are in the group with you. That leads to more openness and that also means members of the group realize when something is going on and someone isn’t being open. Getting to know the other men well means you have a vested interest in looking after each other. All of these things become harder and harder as the group grows in size. I think with a virtual group, the size needs to be even smaller. It’s harder to get everyone together and it’s harder to talk with a bunch of people on a shared line without the visible cues that someone has something to say. So we’re 4 in size, and I think that works for us. I don’t know what the maximum size is, but this has a good feel to it.If you decide to try a virtual accountability group, your mileage may vary.

 

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