Patrick Morley’s Man Alive is a book more or less about accountability groups, an topic that raised the hackles on my neck at first because of personal experience, but it turned out to be a good read, and if men’s groups were more like Morley’s example, I might be more inclined to participate. Let me explain:
Shortly after I first came to Christ, I was invited to join what’s known in Christian circles as an “accountability group”. I was told that this is what Christian guys needed to keep them on the straight and narrow, so I went with a friend of mine. Turns out the phrase “accountability group” is just a euphemism for a “group therapy session” based on a combination of psychology and self-help methods with a little scripture thrown in to make it seem like it was biblical and not based on Freudian methodology.
The rules were as follows:
Do not judge.
Pray for each others’ difficulties.
The most frequent scriptures that were used to justify the group were
Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17)
Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
And this all seems well and good, but the thing I noticed was that week after week these guys all kept coming back with the same problems. Nothing was changing. And if you said something like, “man you need to stop;” there was an immediate reminder of the “don’t judge” rule.
The problem I soon discovered was that none of the scriptures used were read in context. For example that verse in Hebrews goes on to say, “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.” (Hebrews 10:26-27)
I wish I had known more then. I wish I had read “Man Alive” then because Morley introduces some practical ideas to turn the Psychology-based and mostly worthless idea of an “accountability group” into genuine Christian brotherhood. Here’s an example:
“One man with a pornography problem told his small group that he couldn’t take it anymore and was going to bail. They said, ‘No you’re not’ . . . They showed up on his doorstop, seized his computer, cleaned off the porn, and installed filtering software.” (p. 29)
Now that’s more than group therapy; that’s bearing your brother’s burdens and gently guiding them back to Jesus.
Thankfully this was an early example in the book; otherwise I might not have finished it because of my early experiences, but Morley goes on to describe how brotherhood through Christ fills a need in a man’s life that most don’t know, or don’t want to admit, is there. I found myself getting excited and even emotional at times from the stories of lives changed.
I highly recommend this book, and I am looking forward to how God uses it my life and the lives of my Christian brothers in the weeks and months to come.
The publisher provided a free copy of this book for review. All opinions are my own.