What is an Accountability Group?
An Accountability Group is a gender-specific closed group of 3 to 5 believers (including the leader) who meet weekly for 12 months for the purpose of spiritual growth. A person joins the Accountability Group by invitation only.
While a Life Group’s main purpose is to meet regularly to build relationships and study biblical content, an accountability group’s purpose is to meet with fellow believers to grow in your spiritual walk through scripture memorization, reading God’s Word, prayer, and accountability. These groups are designed to focus on getting serious with God’s Word and to live alongside others to keep you accountable to your faith.
Our desire for these groups is to allow believers to be in God’s word daily, to actively memorize scripture, share with your group what God is teaching you, and to talk about your daily walk with Christ. Staying in God’s will can often be hard, but we are not in this alone. We have the Holy Spirit, God’s Word, and other believers to help us along the way.
What does the 12 month commitment look like?
People tend to be hesitant when we invite them to a commitment that seemingly has no ending or exit point. We recommend setting an initial trial period of four weeks. If after four weeks the group wishes to continue, they can commit to meeting together for three more months. This should be enough time to establish some rhythms and get a sense for whether the group is a good fit. At the four month mark, we encourage an open and honest conversation asking, How is this going? Some may decide this is not working for them at this time, while others will agree to continue.
How do I find an Accountability Group?
There are three ways to start an Accountability-Group.
- You can simply use the resources that Gateway provides to start a group on your own with fellow believers in and outside of Gateway that have a hunger to grow.
- If you are already in a Life Group, that can be a great place to find potential Accountability Group members. As people form friendships and bonds in Life Groups, handfuls of them will decide to take the next step and begin a discipleship journey together in an Accountability Group.
- If you desire to be in an Accountability Group and the above options do not work, please contact Carson Minish at Gateway Church.
Do Accountability groups need a leader?
Accountability groups do not require a leader. Part of the appeal of being in an accountability group is that it has a very simple format. Typically, there will be someone who helps initiate the group and gently facilitate the meetings, but these groups are ultimately centered on each person having the opportunity to share with others in the group. Therefore, they do not really require an official leader. The simple answer is that these groups require a bit of planning and facilitation, but do not need an official or trained leader to run them.
The only absolute requirement of facilitating an Accountability Group is that you are a committed believer and intentionally pursuing Christ. You do not need to be an expert or have all the answers. If you are pursuing Christ and want others to do the same, you have the tools you need to facilitate.
How do I choose members?
The first step in establishing a formal disciple-making relationship is choosing disciples. Jesus, our example in selecting disciples, spent time in prayer before selecting men (Luke 6:12-16). The word disciple means learner. Begin by asking God to send you a group of men or women who have a desire to learn and grow.
Your Accountability Group should consist of faithful, available, and teachable believers.
- A faithful person is dedicated, trustworthy, and committed. Consider a potential disciple’s faithfulness by observing other areas of his/her spiritual life, such as Worship attendance, Life Group involvement, or service in the church. Faithfulness is determined by a commitment to spiritual things.
- Discern an individual’s availability by his willingness to meet with and invest in others. Does this person carve out time to listen, study, and learn from others? Is he accessible when called upon? Does she have a desire to have a regular quiet time with God of reading the Word and praying? Availability is measured by a willingness to serve God.
- Not everybody who wants to attend an Accountability Group is teachable. A teachable person has a desire to learn and apply what is taught. One who is teachable is open to correction. Recognize teachability by observing one’s response to God’s Word. Are they repenting and making changes? A teachable person not only listens to what is taught but also applies it to his or her life.
After discerning that an individual is faithful, available, and teachable, prayerfully approach him or her and ask, “Would you be interested in studying the Bible, memorizing Scripture, praying together, and accountability?” Many people are open to that. All you need to do is ask. Keep in mind that men should disciple men, and women should disciple women.
How many people should be in the group?
Because accountability works well in a smaller setting, the ideal size of a disciple-making group is 3 to 5 – you and 2 to 4 other people. We recommend that you do not have more than 5.
Where should we meet?
Find a meeting place away from the church. Restaurants, coffee shops, and homes are all good options. Meeting outside the church in the community encourages your group to publicize their faith, teaching them it is okay to read the Bible at a restaurant or pray in public. Be sure to select a place that is convenient to all group members and doesn’t have too many distractions.
How often should we meet?
Ideally, you should meet once a week for about an hour to an hour and a half. You can meet more frequently, but it is important that you meet at least once a week. Disciple-making is a way of life, not a program. Remember that discipleship is about the relationship between you and your group members.
Is there an attendance requirement?
Yes, and it is not negotiable. The first time you meet with a potential group, explain the disciple-making covenant with them. Since we’re going to spend our lives together for the next twelve months, you want to know if they are committed. We understand that sickness happens or you go out of town but in general attendance is expected. Some people have said after the initial meeting, “Uh, this isn’t really for me. I’m not interested.” That’s okay. You can allow potential disciples to opt out of the group on the front end after understanding the expectations spelled out in the disciple-making covenant. Remember, you are looking for people who want to be discipled, people who have a desire to grow and learn. An unwillingness to commit reveals that they are not ready to be in an Accountability Group.
What do Accountability Group meetings look like?
Here are some elements that your weekly meetings can include:
- Open with prayer.
- Quote your Scripture memory verses for the week.
- Study the Word of God together. The goal of studying the Bible is to apply the Word of God. Remember, knowledge without application is useless information.
- Talk about your week together. What were your highs and lows, what sin are you struggling with etc. We have included several discipleship questions you can go through each week to help. You can find them at This group is about holding each other accountable. All accountability should be saturated with grace, not legalism.
- Ask each participant to present one prayer request. Assign a person to pray over the requests and ask the Lord to sharpen each of you through your relationship.
How do I challenge my Accountability-Group to memorize Scripture?
How many times has a Scripture come to mind when you needed just the right words in a situation? Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would bring to remembrance all that He said (John 14:26). Those passages of Scripture we have memorized will be brought to our memory at the right moment – but we must learn them.
Group members will memorize Scripture if you hold them accountable through reciting verses to one another at every meeting.
We suggest using the Bible Memory App. This tool is very useful to help you memorize scripture.
Should I disciple unbelievers?
The preferred method is a gathering of born-again believers seeking to grow in their faith. How can you determine if someone is saved or not? We recommend beginning every group by asking each person to share their testimony with the others.
When should I ask someone to leave the Accountability Group?
These are some reasons for asking someone to leave the group. They don’t possess a teachable spirit, they are not faithful in attending meetings, they are not completing assigned work and putting in the kind of effort you require, they are living a lifestyle of blatant and unrepentant sin, etc.
Teachability is an indispensable quality for growth. One situation where someone may be asked to leave is if he or she monopolizes the group discussion week after week. It will be obvious they want to demonstrate their superior knowledge of The Word rather than learn from interacting with others.
Additionally, laziness will breed complacency in the group. Missing meetings, refusing to memorize Scripture, or sitting idly by during discussion times lowers the morale of the others in the group. This type of behavior must be addressed immediately. Meet with this individual privately to inquire about his or her attitude and actions. Remind him or her of the commitment made at the outset of the discipleship relationship.
Like Jesus’ relationship with His disciples, ours is a serious relationship, as well: a relationship built upon a mutual commitment to Christ and each other. Tragically, some will not follow through with that commitment, forcing you to confront them about their unfaithfulness.
When do I send out disciples to make disciples?
Always begin with the end in mind. Your group should meet for 12 months, and they should expect that final date from the very beginning. Some groups develop a closer bond, which results in accelerated growth; others take longer. We do not recommend meeting for longer than 12 months. Some group members will desire to leave the group and begin their own groups. Others, however, will want to remain in the comfort zone of the existing group. Some will not want to start another Accountability Group because of the sweet fellowship and bonds formed within the current group. Remember, the goal is for the men and the women of the group to replicate their lives into someone else.
Questions about Accountability groups?
Email Carson Minish, Gateway's Director of Disclipleship