Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 stresses the importance of strength in numbers. “Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up” (HCSB). In Luke 10, Jesus appoints and sends out 72 disciples. They are sent out two by two, and this seems to be Jesus’ plan and protocol. The times you do see the disciples alone, the outcome was not good. Judas went alone to betray Christ and sell him for 30 pieces of silver, and Peter stood by the fire alone the night Jesus was arrested and denied he even knew Him.
Mobilization, where the church’s feet hit the ground in order to advance the kingdom of God, needs a buddy system. Whenever we went to a pool, lake or somewhere to swim with a group, we employed the buddy system. Usually, someone had a whistle and, when blown, you were instructed to get to your “buddy.” You were to clasp your hands together and hold your arms up high to demonstrate you knew who your “buddy” was. Do you know who your buddy (accountability partner) is in your mobilization efforts? The Bible gives us over 50 “one another” admonitions to show us how the mission of God is to be lived out in community.
In The Leadership Ladder, Steve Ogne and Ken Priddy state the importance of developing accountability partners and mentors, “Peer Mentoring Clusters provide a high level of accountability for leaders. Life Transformation Groups provide a high level of accountability for Bible reading. Celebrate Recovery Groups provide a high level of accountability for substance abuse.” Who is mentoring you and holding you accountable? A mentor is defined as someone who has been where you want to go and is willing to help you get there. It is a Paul who said in I Cor. 11:1, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.”
That’s why there are many passages in the Bible that tell believers what we should do for one another. These “one another” verses can only be lived out in relationship with other believers. That is why I love building triads where three people meet together, pray together and begin living on mission together. Ogne and Priddy continued, “Gender-specific small groups or huddles provide a higher level of intimacy and accountability for personal growth.” This is where life on life occurs and adds accountability into the mix. Accountability is the obedience mechanism of discipleship and therefore, mobilization.
Life Transformation Groups are described by Dave DeVries as “a grassroots tool for growth. Through this simple system, the most essential elements of vital spiritual ministry are released to common Christians without the need for specialized training. It taps the disciple’s internal motivation and provides the support needed to grow in the essentials of a spiritual life. The Life Transformation Group (triad) empowers the common Christian to do the uncommon work of reproductive discipling.” These groups of three have a flexible structure to meet together, pray together and hold one another accountable.
In Cultivating a Life For God, Neil Cole lists five strengths of Life Transformation Groups:
• Community — Life change does not happen in a vacuum; it happens in relationship with others (Eccl. 4:12).
• Accountability — Few things would get done in life without some degree of accountability (Matt. 18:15–17).
• Confidentiality — It is easier to maintain confidentiality in a group of 2 or 3 rather than a larger group of 10 or 12 (Prov. 25:9-10).
• Flexibility — It is much easier to coordinate the calendars of only 2 or 3 than a typical small group of 15 (Matt. 18:20).
• Reproducibility — It is easier to reproduce a smaller, simpler group than a larger and more complex entity (II Tim. 2:2).
The mobilization element is increased for several reasons, but accountability is huge, and it is willing to ask hard questions when others in your group are struggling because of tests or temptation. When a group of three becomes four then you multiply by forming two groups of two and recruiting a third person to each group. Now you have 6 people instead of four living out community together with your eyes on multiplying again in order to make it 12. Proverbs 27:17 states it clearly: “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”
The accountability aspect of triads is ensured by developing a list of accountability questions to be asked of one another weekly. The beauty and genius of these questions are stated in our Multiplication Workshop by Dave Devries: “They are to stimulate conversations of character and confession of sin in a safe environment that values honesty, vulnerability, confidentiality and grace. Choose someone you can trust and will keep confidences. These questions can be asked in a small group if you trust the group, or with just one other person.”
Here are some examples of great questions:
• How have you experienced God in your life this week?
• Did you hear from God this week by regularly spending time in the Bible and praying?
• As a result of your time with God this past week, how have you determined you can better obey God?
• Did you express a forgiving attitude toward others this week?
• Did you practice any undisciplined or addictive behavior this week?
• Were you honorable in your financial dealings?
• Did you pray for your pre-Christian friends this week?
• Were you able to talk with someone about Christ this week?
Do not be afraid to develop your own accountability questions and tailor them to the distinctions of the male and female gender-specific triads. James 5:16 states, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed.” Accountability is the obedience mechanism and is quite often the missing element in our discipleship and mobilization.