in the woods of georgia with the sinners

jesus hung out with the sinners. i’m doing the same.

some of you may know, i have a group of guys i meet with once a year. it’s a once-a-year accountability group. i would have thought it was a nutjob of an idea, had i not seen it modeled for years by yaconelli and his friends, with a group they called “the notorious sinners”. so, 5 years ago, a handful of us formed “the young notorious sinners” (in which, clearly, the ‘young’ is only in comparison to the older group we modeled ourselves after).

first year, we met in breckinridge. then in san diego. then a couple hours north of toronto. last year was in tahoe. and right now, i’m sitting in a cool lake home we rented on lake lanier, about an hour north of atlanta.

the hope has always been that we will meet together yearly for decades. one guy dropped out this year, and one couldn’t make it; so we have 7 of us here. two from toronto, one from NYC, one from denver, one from atlanta, one from nashville, and me, from san diego.

our format is simple: each guy takes whatever time he needs to share whatever is going on in life, internally and externally, faith and work and family, struggles, all that. it seems there’s usually about 30 – 60 minutes of sharing, and then the questionning begins. it’s an extremely perceptive group, with a wide variety of personalities and perspectives; so, somehow we always seem to burrow down into the real stuff. last year we sent a guy home in the middle of our time because he clearly had stuff to talk to his wife about that couldn’t wait. it’s that kind of group. sometimes tears. always laughter. usually insight.

there’s some real strength in the fact that we only meet once a year. enough time has passed that we can easily track changes, can easily refer to where we were last year. of course, with any accountability, it’s only as good as the accountability desired — in other words, if someone chooses to not share the true stuff, then they don’t get the benefit of the group. since we only meet once a year, and we’re all here on our own dime, there’s added incentive to really be honest and gain the wisdom of the group.

bottom line: this is a massive thin space. in fact, it’s not really all that thin. god always shows up at yns (we short-hand it now, so we don’t have to acknowledge that we’re not really “young”). i’m here ’til sunday morning. oh, and this is the one trip my wife is thrilled to have me go on every year, because she knows how significant it is in my life.

if you’re intrigued by this idea, here are some posts from last year and the year before:
06 intro
06 wrap up

05 ‘accountability is a sham’ (this was my 13th post on ysmarko!)
05 ‘further thoughts on accountability’

4 thoughts on “in the woods of georgia with the sinners”

  1. thats like 5 minutes from my house. welcome to the hood. and have fun. let me know if you need some places for good food.

  2. this sounds really cool. I am not prying i was just wondering after reading this do you find any drawbacks to doing it this way instead of more regurally?

  3. Hi. This sounds like something Steve has been looking for . . . for a very long time. I force him to go to the Men’s Retreat every year because I love how he comes home – renewed, broken, excited, revealed, or some combination of all those and more. So far the two guys he’s had “accountability” agreements with have withdrawn – they don’t really want to play at that level of reality about themselves. People are messy.

  4. Yo Marko,

    Wish you were about two hours south and had more time…I’m near Macon…woulda loved to have taken you out for a cup of coffee.

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