In the results of a recent survey by George Barna, he states that only about 5% of Christians believe their church does anything to hold them behaviorally accountable. There is general “bemoaning” of these results. Indeed, they are sad, but not for the reason most would expect. I think part of the problem is in the wording of the question: Does the “church” do anything to hold you accountable? The question is based on some faulty presuppositions.
I don’t think the “church” should hold anyone “accountable.”
Genuine Christianity only “works” on one platform: relational one-anotherness (animated by His resurrection life). I do not look to the “church” to hold me accountable. I look toward brothers and sisters with whom I walk, to love me, and care for me, not “hold me accountable.” Love is expressed by care, including rebuke and discipline, not by reporting in to my “accountability partner.”
Since the American Constantinian church is intrinsically individualistic and independent, it is only logical that real care of a quality of Jesus’ kingdom, will be unlikely. We expect some nebulous system of “church” to police me, sheriff me, to make sure I am being a good boy according to the performance metrics of whatever group I belong to.
Every group has its articulated and unarticulated behavioral expectations. They often have no relationship whatsoever to any biblical mandate, but merely reflect social and cultural sensitivities, priorities and preferences, of the group.
I can be utterly accountable behaviorally, and be a complete relational fraud with God and humanity. It’s called . . . faking it for the incentive of reward that my particular group metes out for those who play according to the behavioral expectations of the group. I can check off my weekly do and don’t do list, to perfection, report in to my accountability group or overseer, and be relationally alienated from God and humanity. Since relational integration is the definition of the fulfillment of all righteousness (Mark 12:30 ff., Luke 10:27, John 15:12), our behavioral “accountability” means nothing, in and of itself. A cultist can have biblically impeccable behavior, and have neither right relationship with God nor humanity.
Right relationships will manifest in right behavior (because I am “others” aware), but right behaviors do not categorically produce right relationships. If perfect behavior was the path to right relationship, Jesus’ incarnation would not have been necessary. Humanity’s condition is one of relational alienation manifesting in sin. Humanity’s problem is not at its root a behavioral one. It is a relational one. We needed a Savior to be restored to right relationship.
So when Barna asks the question, we point at the deficiency of the “church,” not realizing that we are the church and the reason no one is holding me accountable, is my own fault because I am not walking in relational reality with anyone, just paying my weekly homage at the shrine of conservative Constantinianism.
I know it may be fussing with terms, but accountability is a “non-biblical” term. As I said in my books (Authority, Accountability, and the Apostolic Movement, The Silent Killers of Faith), it’s a poor attempt of the Adamic nature to try to accomplish through monitored performance metrics, what only Spirit-empowered discipleship and relational one-anotherness can accomplish, as we embrace his death and resurrection life . . . one with another.
So, the data is sad, but not for the reason most would think.
Copyright 2010 Dr. Stephen R. Crosby www.drstevecrosby.wordpress.com. Permission to copy, forward, or distribute this article is granted as long as this copyright byline is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references