Mutual accountability in Christian community

Am I alone in thinking commitment and accountability is seriously lacking in many contemporary Christian communities?

I’ve been thinking, in many ways the Reformation was an attempt to make the clergy accountable to the Christian community. And, given the rampant corruption of the time, I reckon the protest that gave rise to Protestantism was well and truly justified. Clergy should be accountable to the communities they’re appointed to represent.

But have we thrown the baby out with the bath water? What about the accountability of the laity to the Christian community? In these days of rampant consumerism, people swap churches like worn out socks. What we seem to have produced with our church growth strategies is an unaccountable laity. There’s little discipline. There’s little discipleship.

Now, lest I be misunderstood, I want to be clear about the difference between discipline and abuse. Discipline is about training, about constructive correction, and ultimately, about empowering people. There is no place for abuse in authentic discipline.

And I also want to be clear about the difference between accountability to a community, including the clergy, and accountability to clergy acting alone. I’m advocating the former, not the latter.

No, what I am suggesting is the more ancient and authentic model is mutual accountability, where everyone in the community, including the leadership, is committed to one another, and has made a commitment to be accountable to one another. What’s missing? I think TRUST.

2 thoughts on “Mutual accountability in Christian community

  1. I think you’re right about TRUST. Because of past abuse in discipleship (which you are careful to distinguish from) there is a huge hurdle to overcome if trust is to be restored. And I’m not sure where this kind or reconciliation needs to begin, except with our own community commitments.

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  2. Trust is certainly an issue. But trust is developed during trials. On a sports team it’s called practice and competition. If no one practices or is expected to compete (our adversary is Satan) then there’s no effective exercise of “trust, faith, patience, perseverance, etc.” and Satan wins – because he is definitely competing.
    But fundamental doctrine is also an issue. Homosexuality and same sex attraction is spelled outt clearly in scripture – and is condemned. Sex outside of marriage is condemned. Christ had a literal resurrection. People are saved by grace and not works. Read scripture and you’ll see a host of concepts that not mentioned or debunked by today’s churches. Making people comfortable does not save people – making people spiritually tough saves them and others with their sphere of influence.
    People on the battlefront don’t need a lot of instruction about mutual accountability for obvious reasons. The fact that it’s not happening in the “church” is a sure sign that the church has pulled back from the battle with Satan and is only interested in making people feel comfortable. Sort of like coddling children and then wondering why they act as if they’re spoiled.

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