Uncompromising Orthodoxy (Part Seven): Vulnerability, Accountability and a Van City Community

By Cameron Silsbee and Levi Warren

Begin with prayer

Gather together as a Community in a comfortable setting. Take a moment to sit in silence in the presence of Jesus and each other, and then have somebody pray to ask the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time together.

Take some time to go around the group to allow each person to share where they are at with commitment to being present at the Sunday gathering and the weekly Community meeting. 

Read this overview of what it means to be in a Van City Community

Commitment and consistency in community provide rich soil for the growth of vulnerability and accountability over time. In turn, accountability and vulnerability aid our spiritual growth and formation within a community context. It’s one of the distinctive differences between a group of people trying to follow Jesus together and merely a group of people hanging out together.

Vulnerability is the willingness to share the painful, troubling, or embarrassing situations we find ourselves in; and receive from others. Vulnerability in and of itself is not the end goal – it is not an all-or-nothing pursuit – and it does not necessitate a sharing of every single thought, emotion, or struggle. Vulnerability is a tool of spiritual formation utilized in partnership with the Spirit to make us known as we are, not as we project ourselves to be. 

Accountability requires vulnerability and allows vulnerability to be a fruitful undertaking as the Spirit forms us into the likeness of Jesus. Accountability is being held responsible for your words, actions, and influence through encouragement or gentle correction. Accountability also reinforces our commitments, keeping us aligned with the values and actions we’ve committed to living out.

Read through the following discussion prompts about vulnerability and accountability:

Consistently showing up to the Gatherings and Community helps foster an environment of vulnerability.  When we know that the people around us are faithful, that we can depend on them showing up, we can grow in our freedom to be vulnerable with them. And when we are vulnerable with others, they tend to be more vulnerable with us.  

Yes, being vulnerable comes with risk; we are giving people access to the deep places of our emotional and spiritual lives.  But at the same time, we are creating space for mutual love, encouragement, support, and spiritual formation.

With that in mind, work through the following questions:      

  1. How do you hope your Community will impact your spiritual life over the next year?  
  2. In what ways are you wanting or sensing Jesus leading you to grow in your spiritual formation?  What, do you imagine, would help or hinder you in this?  
  3. Are there any struggles you’re currently facing that you want to share with your Community? What do you think help from your Community might look like in these areas?

In Van City Communities, the goal is not only to create space for vulnerability but space for accountability as well. While our Community can and should hold us accountable for our actions, ultimately, we need to be willing to take the often difficult steps toward change that will contribute to our spiritual growth and intimacy with God.  

One area in which a Community can hold each other in mutual accountability is commitment. That is a commitment to the Community itself, the Sunday Gatherings, and active participation in the life of the greater church Community. Our faithful contributions to the family of God are essential for our spiritual growth and can significantly impact the spiritual growth of those around us.   

  1. Take some time to discuss different ways the group can hold one another accountable to the commitment to be present at the Sunday gathering and weekly Community meeting. Some ideas to start with: 
    • A text to the group in advance if you’re not able to be present at Community or the Sunday gathering, explaining the reason you will not be able to attend. 
    • Occasional Community nights of listening prayer and speaking blessing over each person as a reminder that each person’s presence in the group matters.
    • Signing up to serve at the Gathering or taking on a specific task at the Community night.
    • A commitment to stay up to date with the Sunday teachings via the podcast if attendance won’t be possible. 

Spiritual growth and formation take place in the context of community. Those around us can offer accountability for our formation through encouragement, wisdom, and gentle correction as we provide it to those around us. 

  1. What role will your own vulnerability play in allowing those around you to hold you accountable?

One of the main ways a Van City Community promotes spiritual growth and formation is by consistently practicing spiritual disciplines and emotional health principles both as a group and as individuals. These Practices are merely tools to help us abide in Christ in both familiar and new ways. 

  1. Take time to discuss as a group how to hold one another accountable to do the Practices. Some ideas to start with
    • Adjust your Community meeting rhythm to ensure there is time to work through the Practice every week. (e.g., split groups, starting earlier, planning out the evening with intentionality, etc.) 
    • Have one person send out a text a few days after meeting to remind people to do the Practice homework.
    • If possible, send the current Practice to the group before meeting to allow people to read it ahead of time. Doing so could help group conversations stay on topic.
    • Have times as a group where people can share what God has been doing through the Practices as one way to encourage others in the group to prioritize doing the Practices.

Talk about this week’s Practice as a Community:

For this week’s Practice, set aside time one day to pray over each person in your Community by name. Pray something (whether personal or generic) for each person. Once you’ve done this, read as a prayer over your entire group Philippians 1v3-11.

Close in prayer

End your time as a group by having one person say the Nicene Creed. 

I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible. I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages.

God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made.

For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.

He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father [and the Son], who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets.

I believe in one, holy and apostolic Church. I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.