How to build a healthy accountability group

Josh GilmanCommunity

By Peter Mahaffey:

When most people think of accountability they are getting it wrong. They are thinking in wrong categories. They don’t have a complete understanding of what accountability is. They don’t know what it should look like when practiced.

For example, a group of 18-year-old young men are discouraged because of their constant failings with pornography so they form a group to keep one another accountable (this can also be applied to women). At first there is excitement and they guys are checking up on each other. But within a month or so they start to forget and maybe some of them have sinned. They start to become frustrated because no one has checked on them. Slowly but surely they discover that their accountability has made no difference in their fight for purity. Although their intentions are good, these young men are naïve and know nothing of what true accountability is. Sadly, most accountability practiced today is not very helpful.

Allow us to help: here are some quick thoughts on the marks of a healthy accountability group.

Diversity of Maturity

What that group of young men lacked was a diversity of maturity. I do not care how mature you think you are at the age of 18,  you do not have the maturity to help another 18-year-old struggling with pornography, especially if you are struggling yourself. Confess, pray, and encourage one another but make sure your accountability group has a diversity of maturity both in age and in spirituality. If you have a group of three 18-year-old young men, involve one or two older men who are wise and display spiritual maturity. They will be far more effective in helping you in your fight against porn than your buddy Joe that you play videogames with every weekend.

Diversity of Sickness and Health

The other failure of those passionate young men is that they are all sick. The sick cannot lead the sick just as the blind cannot lead the blind. Within your accountability group you need some men who are healthy: men who are walking in purity of mind and heart [with and] before God and others. These are men who can help you and will challenge you to take the necessary steps to live a life of obedience before the Lord. These are the kind of men who will know when to be firm and when to show compassion and grace. They won’t be afraid to push and challenge you and even rebuke you in your complacency or your lack of fight for holiness and purity. These principles are also true for groups of women. Find some older, godlier, and wiser women who can help in this battle and walk through life with you.


At the centre of a healthy accountability group is vulnerability and truth. Practicing confession to your brothers or sisters is a gift from the Lord. Confession is the refusal to allow sin to dwell in darkness because in darkness it festers and begins to spread and grow. Confession is an act of humbling oneself before God and others. Although it can be painful, there is sweet relief and joy that comes from it. A healthy accountability group must allow for confession. True confession is taking the initiative into your own hands and taking the necessary steps to walk in a life of obedience. Proverbs 28:13 reads “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” Accountability groups should practice true biblical confession.

Make Yourself Accountable

This might be the most important component to grasp. The majority of people think accountability as having someone keep you accountable. That is not the biblical understanding of accountability. Accountability is making yourself accountable to others. In other words, the responsibility is upon you to share with others how you are doing. The responsibility is on you to share if you are feeling tempted. The responsibility is on you to confess that you have sinned. You will not stand before God and justify yourself by saying: “but my friends didn’t check up on me.” You are responsible to make yourself accountable. It’s up to you to keep your accountability group updated with how you are doing. Accountability is making yourself accountable to others. For example, I have a brother who shares with me each day how he is doing because I told him to make himself accountable to me. I told him I would not check on him every day, but if he truly wants help then he needs to make himself accountable, and that means he has given me a daily report. Be accountable, don’t expect accountability.

Truth and Grace

Finally, truth and grace must be the mark of each and every accountability group. God’s truth and grace must reign supreme. Brothers or sisters who know both these realities and know how to live them out need to be a part of your group. I also want to add that though accountability is a wonderful gift and it is helpful, it is not the ultimate solution. It is not the cure. The only cure to your battle with pornography is the transforming work of God upon your heart by the power of the Holy Spirit which gives you a deeper hatred for sin, and a greater love for Jesus.

Press on in your battle against pornography, be accountable, and pursue Jesus with your whole heart.

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