Last week I tried to make the case for the importance of choosing the right men or women to be your accountability partners. This week let’s talk about how these groups actually work in real life. Here’s where I’d suggest you begin.
The Importance Of The First Few Exploratory Meetings Set some dates for the first few meetings and make it clear that at this stage no one is agreeing to be an accountability partner yet, but you want to meet for a few weeks to get to know each other better and discuss everyone’s expectations.
1. Ask everyone to take 15-30 minutes to give the group a brief summary of themselves, including the type of family they grew up in, education, hobbies, spiritual journey, and current information… The goal is to get a feel for each person’s spiritual maturity, transparency, and family or personal issues.
2. Spend a second meeting talking about your expectations for this group. Ask everyone why they are considering being in a group like this and what they hope will be the benefits.
3. Unless you all know each other well, consider spending eight to twelve weeks in Bible study before you agree to a long-term accountability relationship. At the end of this time of study together you’ll have a much better feel for whether or not these are men or women you can trust to give you wise counsel when you need it.
4. Set a date when everyone who wants to enter into an accountability relationship, will communicate that they’re “in”, to one designated person, by a certain date. If anyone doesn’t call by that date, don’t pursue them. Make it easy for a person to opt out by simply not responding.
5. Decide how often you’ll meet, when and where. Most accountability groups meet weekly for a minimum of one hour, but 90 minutes is better.
SETTING YOUR PERSONAL GOALS:
Last week I talked about having each accountability partner writing down specific goals or things they want to accomplish, then empowering others to hold them accountable. But, what does that look like and how do you get started?
1. I’d encourage each person to set aside a half-day for prayer to seek God’s guidance for what he wants of you. Have each person write their personal mission statement. A personal mission statement is essentially a short paragraph that describes the person both God and you want to be, the relationships you desire to have, and the things you really want to accomplish in your life. I’ll give you an example of a personal mission statement little later.
I’ve written a workbook entitled Discovering Your Life’s Purpose, a guide of almost 40 pages for writing your personal mission statement and organizing a life that truly blesses God. It can be purchased or downloaded on this site.
2. Write your goals for the next quarter or 90 days, roughly organized as I’ve shown below. (Obviously you’ll want to modify these if you’re not married or don’t have children.) Begin with your personal mission statement at the top.
The purpose of my life is to enjoy Jesus, be content with who he has made me, with the resources and gifts I’ve been given and be a godly example to my wife, children and friends.
MY QUARTERLY (90 DAY) GOALS With God’s help I hope to complete these goals by (date).
Spiritual Growth 1. Average 15 minutes of personal Bible study and prayer, three days a week. 2. Meet Jack for lunch and share with him what God has been teaching me. 3. Write out my personal testimony.
My Wife 1. Pray together at least once a week. 2. Plan a date night with just the two of us twice monthly.
My Children 1. Encourage my daughter’s involvement in Young Life. 2. Begin a monthly allowance with work, savings, and tithing expectations. 3. Plan to have a “date” each month with both of my children.
Vocational and Financial 1. Meet with my co-worker to resolve our differences at the office. 2. Increase our personal monthly savings for investment purposes. 3. Be home by 6:00 p.m. every night. No work on weekends!
Friends and Extended Family 1. Invite my father to lunch. 2. Set a date for one activity with a spiritually-oriented family or couple (Smith’s?). 3. Visit my grandmother at the retirement home.
Health and Recreation 1. Begin some form of exercise three times a week. 2. Take a ½ day off just for me. 3. Get my weight to 178 lbs.
Using your Goals in Your Weekly Meetings
At the next weekly meeting after everyone has written their goals, have each person pass out their goals for the next 90 days. Now everyone has everyone else’s mission statement and quarterly goals. Since everyone needs time to begin working on their goals, devote the next 12 weeks to Bible study and prayer for each other. Once the 90 days are up, begin your quarterly reviews:
• Every three months devote your entire time each week to one person’s goals. On the week they are assigned, the individual being reviewed should bring some extra copies of their goals.
• Area by area, each person should give a report on how they’ve done over the past 90 days. They share what they’ve actually accomplished as well as things they have not yet done and why. During this report, any person in the group can ask any question or make a comment.
• The person being reviewed should also bring copies of what they hope to accomplish in the next 90 days, or email them to everyone within a week of completing their review.
• Because we have six men in our group, this process takes six weeks to complete. After that time period, we either study the Bible or a book or topic that would benefit all of us. At the end of that six week period, we begin the quarterly reviews all over again. That means each year, every person gives their personal report four times.
I’m sorry this blog got longer than I had hoped. The Guide for Developing Christian Accountability Groups and Partners is available on the RESOURCES page. It has nine pages with additional ideas for what you do each week, suggested questions to ask each other and ideas for group activities to accelerate growth in all kinds of areas.
My question for you: If you don’t have a group of men or women like this in your life, what’s the one thing really holding you back?
Next week: Twelve important questions every Christian ought to ask themselves annually.