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 Confidentiality/Contracting
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MikeBeaversLMFT
Starting Member

USA
5 Posts

Posted - 01/22/2004 :  15:42:35  Show Profile
Hi Scott. Thanks for this forum. I'm sure it will be useful to me as I serve our church as "cell group champion". My question concerns confidentiality--how absolute, how best to "contract" concerning confidentiality at the outset of a leadership prototype group.

My initial take is that confidentiality is not absolute but that information could be shared with a cell group coach or pastor. Since I happen to be a therapist, one of my big issues is to be very clear at the outset what sort of confidentiality "breaches" might take place.

A follow-up question . . . do beginning cell groups typically do any sort of "contract" at start-up? Written? Are these contracts (if used) typically repeated verbally when newcomers show up?

Thanks again for making this forum available. It creates a unique "community" which I see as serving important goals.



Michael Beavers, MS LMFT

Scott Boren
Moderator

USA
2 Posts

Posted - 02/09/2004 :  12:43:11  Show Profile
Confidentiality is important to a group with some clarification. The goal is to ask group member to commit to confidentiality, that is not gossipping about what was shared in a group meeting. This is a commitment, but not a guarantee. We are talking about people and let's be honest, some people just like to talk. Therefore for the leader to promise that nothing will be shared by any group member to anyone outside the group, is quite frankly an empty promise over which the leader has no control. Sometimes, when something is shared outside the meeting, it can come back upon the leader as if he were at fault because he or she guaranteed confidentiality.

Maybe "confinentiality" is not the right word, because we are not talking about confident information that is to be a secret only held by the group. As a cell group leader, I will share with my pastor what is happening in people's lives. This helps him know where people are and how to better minister to them. In addition, a cell group leader should not care for his group as if it is his or her independent group. This is WAY TOO MUCH PRESSURE. A group leader is an undershepherd, and the group members should understand this fact. A good undershepherd knows when he needs help from those who oversee the church and he or she gets that help for the sheep.

Therefore the commitment of the group might be "not to gossip" or talk about the sensitive issues that are shared inside the group with others outside the group.

Regarding "contracts," I don't feel that they are useful. Using them communicates that cell groups are technocratic mechanisms, rather than relational organisms. On the other hand, many churches have chosen to ask people to commit to a covenant. Examples of such are on pages 167-8 of the Navigation Guide for Making Cell Groups Work. Sharing the basic commitments of a group at its inception helps people understand to what they are committing. But in my experience, the more formal such convenants are, the more formal the life. Many have been long of commitments and short of actually living the life of those commitments. Our society is technocratic enough. We don't need to formalize everything in God's Kingdom. Actually modelling the life produces the fruit that you want to see in those groups. Formal commitments, while they are helpful for casting the vision, don't change that much regarding how people live.

Scott Boren
Director of R&D
TOUCH, The Cell Group People
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