Q & R: Accountability

Here’s the Q:

I have been on a journey for a while now. I am in my mid-30s, a couple of years ago I was on the staff of a large pentecostal church in xxx. After reading some of your books, among others, and having the opportunity to hear you speak I realized I simply could not align myself any longer with the teachings I had been brought up to believe.
Over many months, and hopefully with some wisdom, I spoke to my leaders and as time went on found myself slowly exiting, first leadership, and then the church. I am now very happily meeting with a small group of friends. I guess I could call it a faith community. And to be honest, there is very little I miss from being part of a larger church.
But I keep coming back in my heart to question of accountability. I am accountable to the community I meet with, but they are all peers. The men I used to be accountable to while a member of a larger church were men of integrity, years and wisdom. Unfortunately, they simply view the world differently to me, and do not consider me to accountable to them if I no longer attend a large congregation, preferably theirs. So I am left feeling slightly disconnected, and wondering where I can find men with more wisdom and age than me, that I can be accountable to. I am sure there are others in the same situation and wondered if you would have any advice.

Thanks for your note. I know many people will nod their heads as they read your story – feeling they’ve been on a similar path. A lot of people have done one of three things to find the pastoral care and accountability you’re seeking:
– Sometimes they find a spiritual director … someone with whom they meet to focus on their own spiritual growth and integrity.
– Sometimes they form a circle of friends who provide that accountability for one another.
– Sometimes they find a network in which to participate – either a network of church leaders or of churches. I imagine that new networks will form especially for informal faith communities like yours … and I also imagine that over time, some denominations will make space for communities like yours as well, recognizing them as “fresh expressions” (really, very ancient ones) of the church.