Online Accountability

In comments on my last post, I hit upon the idea of an accountability group for bloggers (and others) participating in online discussions, perhaps named “FBC Blogtown”. At it’s root, such a group would be intended to provide accountability relationships to participants, in hopes of cleaning up some of the vitriol we see in Baptist debates online.

Here’s a few of the ideas I was thinking of for the group:

— an accountability agreement that all participants would sign
— a website with a list of participants, their blogs, and contact information
— a blog aggregator (where snippets of posts from each participant, with links to posts, would appear)
— a private forum where participants could discuss issues related to blogging / accountability
— a small logo / banner that participants could place on their blog to identify themselves with the group

I don’t know where this will go… if it goes anywhere at all. I see immense potential in such a group, though… whether very limited in scope or something much more. But that’s the purpose of this post… to see what everyone thinks about the idea, and to develop it further if there’s interest.

Anyway… fire away. If you’ve got ideas, post ‘em here!


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0 thoughts on “Online Accountability

  1. John, You know that this is important to me so I’m ready to be involved. Tell me when and where and I’ll be first in line to sign up.

    As soon as I get to a computer I’ll post about it too. This writing from my Treo is not the easiest thing to do.

  2. This sounds great, John. I’ve been so burdened over the arguing lately, that I’ve actually decided to totally pull back from the personal nature of any of this debate. I am just tired of the sniping back and forth and everyone taking everything so personally. I will only deal with theological and missional issues in the future. So, I would welcome this. Count me in, if you do it.

  3. I’m VERY glad to see this level of interest! It’s looking like I need to go pick out a domain name for the site… :)

    I would like some feedback in regard to how some of you might see this working, though, so if you have any ideas above and beyond what I’ve posted, please share them here.

    Thanks!

  4. It seems to me it could work well as a covenant relationship, and the church is a good model. When we see fellow covenant members posting or commenting in a way that strikes us as being detrimental to the good of all of us, we should be bound by the covenant to contact that person privately, and come to agreement on the matter, whatever that entails (apology, removal of posts or comments, etc.). If we cannot, we should bring another covenant member into the discussion. Obviously, the covenant should bind each of us to give and receive correction in love.

    Just a few thoughts.

  5. I like the idea of a message board format as well, that would highlight all of the current posts of the group, kind of like how bloglines does. It would have an organizational function as well and would help us blog better and more effectively. Of course, we would still have our personal blogs and our own links, but this site could serve as a hub for some of that in multiple ways, even beyond accountability.

  6. Okay, if I’m counting right, we’ve got 9 bloggers interested at this point. Ideally, I’d like to start out with 25 or more, given that the website I think we’ll need to support this accountability network is going to take a good amount of time and effort to put together. If we can get that level of support, I’ll start working toward launching this idea. I guess what I’m saying at this point is: if you think this is a great idea that would benefit the Christian blogging community as a whole… tell them, and have them come here to voice their interest and support.

    Now, I must be completely honest… I’d love to say I have all the details for this worked out right now, but that simply wouldn’t be true. I have a general idea (and will be happy to guide the formation of this network from that starting point), but since the success of such a network is wholly dependent on the participation of its members, I see the fleshing out of this network as a group effort. So… once (if?) we get enough commitment, I’ll develop a place where everyone can start to hash out details (either a group blog or a discussion forum at a new URL named after the network).

    For now though, we’ll keep discussion here, and see what kind of support we really have.

    Again, I want to emphasize… I’m most encouraged by the interest I see already. Given that I’m a small-time blogger, today’s response seems absolutely incredible to me. Thanks, to all of you… you’ve been a blessing to me today!

  7. I’ve thought of doing this in the past as well. What about anonymity? Would there be a way of appearing anonymously to some but not to others, for example, if that were desired? Because I wanted to do this myself, I’d be happy to be a part of administrating if need be. (I say that not knowing how much time that would require)

  8. I would be honored to be in such good company (of course, with the exception of Bob ;)). Since, as Bob jests, we are creedists, maybe our covenant could be a fleshing out of Romans 14.

    Romans 14

    1 Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. 2 For instance, one person believes it’s all right to eat anything. But another believer with a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. 3 Those who feel free to eat anything must not look down on those who don’t. And those who don’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them. 4 Who are you to condemn someone else’s servants? They are responsible to the Lord, so let him judge whether they are right or wrong. And with the Lord’s help, they will do what is right and will receive his approval.
    5 In the same way, some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike. You should each be fully convinced that whichever day you choose is acceptable. 6 Those who worship the Lord on a special day do it to honor him. Those who eat any kind of food do so to honor the Lord, since they give thanks to God before eating. And those who refuse to eat certain foods also want to please the Lord and give thanks to God. 7 For we don’t live for ourselves or die for ourselves. 8 If we live, it’s to honor the Lord. And if we die, it’s to honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 Christ died and rose again for this very purpose—to be Lord both of the living and of the dead.

    10 So why do you condemn another believer[a]? Why do you look down on another believer? Remember, we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11 For the Scriptures say,

    “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
    ‘every knee will bend to me,
    and every tongue will confess and give praise to God.[b]’”

    12 Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. 13 So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.

    14 I know and am convinced on the authority of the Lord Jesus that no food, in and of itself, is wrong to eat. But if someone believes it is wrong, then for that person it is wrong. 15 And if another believer is distressed by what you eat, you are not acting in love if you eat it. Don’t let your eating ruin someone for whom Christ died. 16 Then you will not be criticized for doing something you believe is good. 17 For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too. 19 So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.

    20 Don’t tear apart the work of God over what you eat. Remember, all foods are acceptable, but it is wrong to eat something if it makes another person stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else if it might cause another believer to stumble. 22 You may believe there’s nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God. Blessed are those who don’t feel guilty for doing something they have decided is right. 23 But if you have doubts about whether or not you should eat something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.

  9. Hey, I think that’s 13 participants now… over halfway to my arbitrarily picked number to start… :)

    Here’s a good question for you all to start pondering… what should we call this accountability network, other than FBC-Blogtown (that just seems a bit cheesy)?

  10. That does have a pretty high cheesiness factor. Perhaps some acronym utilizing “Baptist,” “Accountability,” “Bloggers,” etc. Wait, that’s quickly heading toward B.A.B.E.L. ;-)

  11. Not to poo all over anyone’s ideas, but I think I should clarify a bit… I’m looking for something in the name that could also work well for a domain name for the website (obviously, we’d need something not already taken). Acronymns could work for this, of course.

    One suggestion Micah had made was BlogBack, with the website being blogback.org. I’ll let him elaborate as to meaning.

  12. Hmm, and given the propensity of those who don’t understand our position on the sufficiency of scripture I can see the Blog headlines now…”New group begun; some call it B.O.O.Z.E. for booze.” :-)

    The BlogBack idea essentially is a catchy name that refers to our effort to blog, and the effort of other bloggers to respond “back” to us in an effort to produce accountability. Not the best name, I know, but it was a start. I’m sure we can honestly come up with something better.

  13. What about something like this verse from today’s proverb (24):

    6 for waging war you need guidance,
    and for victory many advisers.

    forvictory.org

    Or, you could go to a Knights of the RoundTable sort of reference, or a LOTR reference… Of course, for victory can capture all of those.

  14. I haven’t had time to think, but creativity and naming things is something God has given me a passion for. I wish I had more time to brainstorm.. but I have a basketball game (Tanner) and two soccer practices, a razorback basketball game, a birthday party, and a 3-hour drive today.. .ugh. :) I don’t know how quickly you plan to name this…. but the for victory was my first thought.

    Pray men, pray!

  15. Bryan…

    Good stuff… keep those ideas coming. forvictory.net and 4victory.net are both available. I’d like to have a name for this relatively soon, but we’re just halfway to having the number of “charter members” to start this. We’ve got some time.

    Micah, Kevin…

    I do think BlogBack has promise as a name. We’ll keep it in mind, and see what else we can come up with.

    Bob…

    I love your sense of humor! :)

    All…

    I’m sure you all understand this, but I do want to re-emphasize this to be crystal clear… this accountability network should never be construed as being about “sides”. It’s sole purpose is to create a network of believers committed to holding each other accountable for Christlike behavior in their online activities. Conformity is certainly not something that should enter the picture… unless we’re talking about conformity to Christlike attitudes and behavior in our relationships to one another. I know it often seems an impossible dream, but I truly believe that we can have believers, separated 180 degrees on issues, still treating each other and loving each other in a manner that pleases God. Differences of belief most certainly do not have to result in division of family.

  16. I agree with John. I do not want to be lumped into a group that says any counsel against drinking is an automatic denial of the sufficiency of Scripture. The jokes above were hilarious, but please realize not everyone is in agreement on the wisdom of recent issues of debate. I am in this for accountability, and think it wise if we indeed have a polarity on biblical issues just so this doesn’t become another faction Thornbury can distinguish as a Baptist “group.”

  17. mighty men. as in David’s mighty men.

    stand firm. as in the armor of the Lord.

    bondservants

    all for One

    Onemaster

    sixthman

    coverguy

    covered

    anyway… ugh… gonna be in trouble for sitting here. :)

  18. Steve,

    I’m not sure I understand your question. Maybe it’s just that I missed my Sunday afternoon nap (it’s a day of rest, you know)… :)

    This network, whatever we decide to call it, is intended to be beneficial to all partipants… not led by any single individual, but contributed to by all. Whatever membership agreement (or covenant) we decide upon will be a team effort, and ensuring that the network works as intended will be the responsibility of all involved. We’ll probably lay some ground rules, of course, but just to clarify the intent. The bottom line? I just see this as a semi-formal method to provide accountability partnerships to bloggers who are interested. In the end, participants should simply be following God’s leading in growing relationships with each other and providing accountability to each other. That’s nothing than can’t be done outside of this, of course, but hopefully the knowledge that participants are committing to such relationships with each other will help encourage such constructive actions and behavior.

  19. How about this as an acid test. Take a look around the prominent blogs today, Thurs MAr 1. If anyone is ok with the all posts of the major bloggers in SBC life today, I am not ok with covenanting with them.

    I think we need to take example posts, figure out what is and is not acceptable, and covenant based on that. Otherwise, this will be an exercise in futility- just building another doll house.

  20. Peter,

    As far as I’m concerned, you’re welcome. I see this as an open group focused more on behavior than on debatable details of theology. Others may feel otherwise, of course, but all of these details are yet to be ironed out.

    Colin,

    Would you be so kind as to specify which bloggers you’re talking about? I haven’t had (and probably won’t have) time to check out everything, especially comment streams, due to staying busy with the new addition to my family, Allison Grace. Feel free to e-mail me (link in the left sidebar) if you don’t want to do so publicly.

  21. If we have got to sign a creed to join up, count me out. I am a follower of Jesus and would be excited to encourage and be encouraged in and through the Word. This shouldn’t be hard. And, if you feel like someone is teaching something or saying something questionable, then hold that person accountable to it and to others in the group. It’s as simple as that.

    I’m not even sure if I’m curious as to what you are pointing to, Colin, as inappropriate to hang out with and be iron for.

  22. Ok, last comment was reactive. It was wrong. I haven’t read hardly any blogs today, so I really wasn’t reacting based on anything you may have been referring to, Colin, but I just don’t see accountability as something requiring theological expertise or particular knowledge. A covenant is a good thing, John, but it isn’t about knowledge or knowledge/theology-based, in my opinion.

  23. No theology. Simply character. I assume this idea takes hold in the number of adherents to the “Nathan Network,” as well as their willingness to, as a group, admonish one another and other Christian bloggers that they: 1) regularly associate with in the blogosphere; and (2) in so doing give creedence and de facto endorsement to questionable blog posts and comments. Further, I would assume affirming comments to questionable posts as endorsing them. This means that you can be in this neat group holding each other accountable for your own posts, but comments endorsing other blogs count- AND, I would add, the reason young people are disgusted at the current controversy.

    Therefore, it would seem to me that the members of the “Nathan Network” would have to be in agreement on what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior in the blogosphere. Otherwise, what is the point? How does the “Nathan Network” give one any more authority or incentive, for that matter, to approach someone about their questionable behavior as a Christian blogger? There is no point in forming any network if one member of the network deems behavior unbiblical while another member cheers it on. Unless, of course, you distribute badges.

    In my humble world, I would have to affirm Thom Rainer’s recent open letter, and Russell Moore’s comments to the effect of making this about issues not personalities: “You cannot go around the SBC building a coalition against _________ (anyone),” and this includes anyone who is not a false teacher or false prophet. I will stand for a group who will stand against the public (blogs are public, not the church) exposure of sin and unethical behavior of a brother in Christ, especially an elder or church leader, for this is the heart of gossip and the discord being actively sewn among the brethren.

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