I hate accountability groups

Let me tell you a secret.

I hate accountability groups.

Oh, I know I shouldn’t say that.

I know they’re a valued part of many churches and youth groups, a way to keep wayward teens accountable for their actions.

I know that as a youth pastor, I’m supposed to love them.

But I don’t.

Instead, I despise them because of how unhealthy they usually are.

Consider, for a moment, the set of questions that most accountability groups for teenage boys use:

1) How often have you looked at porn this week?

2) How often have you masturbated?

3) When did you lust after someone this week?

4) Have you gone farther than you should have with your girlfriend?

5) How else have you sinned this week?

How can such questions do anything other than make someone feel like a failure?

How can such questions do anything other than make someone feel guilty or inadequate?

They can’t.

Rather than help students turn their eyes to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, such questions instead turn our attention inward, towards ourselves and our sin. Rather than equip us to do God’s kingdom work in community with others, such questions make us retreat into ourselves, paralyzed by guilt and shame.

Read the rest of this article here. 

Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry

Jen serves as the Minister of Youth and Family at Atonement Lutheran Church in Barrington, Illinois. A veteran youth worker, Jen holds an MA in Youth Ministry Leadership from Huntington University. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus (The Youth Cartel), The Real Jesus (The Youth Cartel), Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders (Abingdon), and A Mission That Matters (Abingdon). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. Jen is also the Assistant Director of Arbor Research Group where she has led many national studies. When not doing ministry or research, she and her husband, Doug, and daughter, Hope, can be found traveling and enjoying life together.

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Jen's Books

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A Mission That Matters: How To Do Short-Term Missions Without Long-Term Harm

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Unleashing the Hidden Potential of your Student Leaders

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The Real Jesus

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The Jesus Gap

What Teens Actually Believe About Jesus

Based on National Research

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