New survey data published today by The Barna Group indicates that churches across all denominational lines do a poor job or make little effort to hold members accountable for their spiritual growth and adherence to biblical teachings.
Many Christians are familiar with the story of Nicodemus, whose questioning of Jesus about what it means to means to born-again leads to a discussion of spiritual rebirth and the most well-known verse in the Bible, John 3:16.
Barna points out further that Hebrews 13:17 exhorts believers to rely on their spiritual leaders for guidance. But if the only regimented guidance is coming from the pulpit on Sunday morning and not mature Christian peers, is that enough? The answer Barna concludes – and I would agree – is no.
No denomination or Christian sub-group reported more than 15 percent participation in peer accountability groups. The 15 percent figure came from evangelical churches.
George Barna said the desire to avoid conflict and uncomfortable personal situations was likely a primary reason why participation in this area is so low.
“Barna Group studies among pastors and other church leaders have consistently shown that such leaders have a distaste for initiating any type of confrontation and conflict with congregants,” he said. “Another barrier is that many followers of Christ are uncertain about the difference between judgment and discernment. Not wanting to be judgmental, they therefore avoid all conversation about the other person’s behavior—except, sometimes, gossip.”