off to join the other sinners

five years ago, two friends of mine who worked at navpress (at the time, that is — they both work at ys now!) and i dreamed of starting a little group of guys who would meet every year for a few days, following the model mike yaconelli lived with about a dozen guys for years in a group they called ‘the notorious sinners’. yac wrote about this group a bit in both dangerous wonder and messy spirituality. we decided to call our group the ‘young notorious sinners’ — really, only in comparison to the original group, not that we’re all that young (clearly, i’m not!). most of the time, these days, we short-hand it to YNS.

we invited a half-dozen guys and met our first year in breckenridge, co. we shared an idea of meeting once a year for the rest of our lives. of course, anyone can quit whenever they want — but that’s the vision. i suppose you could call it an accountability group, but that’s not quite it. i wrote about it last year (and my thoughts about accountability vs. shared life) here and here. the second year we added a few more guys and i hosted it in san diego. last year, 3 hours north of toronto, in a cabin in the woods. this year, the 9 of us are meeting (it’s now a closed group — there’s too much ‘back story’ and understanding of each other to introduce new people to the mix at this point) at a house we rented on the northwest corner of lake tahoe, in nevada. we have three guys from toronto, one from mahattan, one from atlanta, one from denver, two from san diego, and one from nashville. we actually added a guy from northern ireland this year, but he had to pull out for family reasons this year.

our format is simple in concept, but relies completely on personal investment in the process (which is true of accountability, i guess — it’s just that we in the church have often had this false sense that the process or structure or list of questions can provide the means. that’s crap: it’s only personal volition that provides the means. you want me involved in your life? you want to know what i think about how you’re living the choices you’re making? then, it’s completely up to you to reveal the truth of your life to me.). we each take about 30 – 60 minutes to share what’s gone on in our lives over the past year. by doing this once a year, there’s a significant amount of change to talk about! then the group asks questions. and because the whole thing is done with a prayerful sense of expecting god to speak discernment through the collective group, it’s amazing how we’re able to rather quickly drill in on the real issues going on in that person’s life. most of us end up in tears. sometimes it’s hard, sometimes it’s comforting. but there’s ALWAYS a sense that there are 8 other guys who are committed to me and will walk with me. i know they will jump on a plane and stand with me in a time of crisis. i know that they will constantly give me grace and support and truth-telling.

so… that’s what i’m off to today. return monday. don’t know about internet access. postings may be normal or substantially limited.

6 thoughts on “off to join the other sinners”

  1. Northern Ireland? Didn’t think you’d have been in touch with many people from this part of the world!

  2. I’m jealous. I’ve been an involved Christian man for 35 years and have never come close to such an experience. The question of course is who am I? My great fear is without a group of godly men to speak into my life I will never really know. You are very blessed!

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  4. Wow, what a great idea, too bad this is closed, I’d love to join, share and be helped by men who love Jesus but have problems…


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