quaker clearness committee vs. accountability

i just got back from meeting with my spiritual director. i was talking about this whole question of accountability and my group of guys i meet with annually. i mentioned that i’d settled on the idea that our process was more one of group spiritual discernment, or group spiritual direction. she agreed, but then went on to tell me how our first two steps were the same first two steps of a “quaker clearness committee”.

our process

    1. someone talks for however long they need (30 – 45 minutes) to identify the primary themes or problems or challenges or milestones of the past year and their current reality.

    2. the group probes with questions for another 30 – 60 minutes. the process of questionning, in itself, becomes an act of spiritual discernment, as the answers lead to new questions, and the group begins to zero in on new or clarified issues.

    3. finally, the group (in most cases — last week, in six of eight) gets a bit prescriptive in some action(s) we collectively sense need to be taken or considered.

quaker clearness committee

    1. & 2. same thing

    3. someone has been recording the process (a written record), and gives it to the subject for further reflection and listening.

in other words, the clearness committee doesn’t get prescriptive.

intriguing stuff to me. plus, i think “clearness committee” or “quaker clearness committee” would be a cool band name.

6 thoughts on “quaker clearness committee vs. accountability”

  1. So…which way do you/are you lean in your current relationships? Do you like that leaning or want to change it?

    ahhh, is it fair to ask that of you? haha…

  2. i totally dig the process we used — but it requires an EXTREMELY high level of trust, and helps that we KNOW each other. it seems the quaker clearness committee approach doesn’t necessitate community — it’s a more “pure” form, in a sense (though i wouldn’t like it as much, personally).

  3. I’m not ready to ditch accountability. It is true that in order to be held accountable you need to bear your soul voluntarily, but I think part of accountability is knowing someone so well and developing a trust with them so you can ask pointed questions such as “Have you looked at porn on the internet this week?” The second person then must voluntarily chose to answer the question honestly or not, but the first has taken some initiative to keep his friend accountable. Now ultimately we are accountable only to God, but we have been commanded to confess to each other and forgive each other’s sins which extends the accountability into the church. If anything is missing in acountability as it is now practiced it is forgiveness. Too often we feel that “just getting things out in the open” with a group of Christian friends is enough to clear our conscience. We need to realize that accountability is not just being willing to let someone open up to you, but is being active in working with the Spirit and convicting a brother of his sin and then forgiving him through the power given to us by Christ.

  4. Thanks again for your insights and words. Your orginal post about accountability spurred me to write some thoughts of my own, you can find them here. Feel free to comment or respond.

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