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01.01.1970 01:0000    Comments: 0    Categories: You Asked (Text Files)      Tags:

You asked...


"How important is it for facilitator/prayer partners to keep confidentiality concerning the peoples names and regarding their sessions? How would you handle this problem with a facilitator or prayer partner? If a facilitator will not receive being confronted about that kind of problem what would you do?"


Ed Smith's response:


If a person does not agree with the necessity of confidentiality he simply lacks knowledge of the purpose of doing so and also is ignorant of the law.  In most states confidentiality is not an option but required.  Not maintaining confidentiality will destroy and breakdown the trust that is necessary for doing effective ministry.  A lack of confidentiality is also disrespectful of the person seeking ministry.  I personally would not submit to ministry with a person that I thought was going to report to others what I shared in a session. I recall hearing a well-meaning lay minister sharing publicly what the Lord had done in the life of a person with whom he had worked, but he neglected to secure the person's permission to share this information!  I remember cringing as I listened to the report of the person's abuse even though it was followed by a glowing report of God's healing grace.  This was unfortunate, unprofessional, and unnecessary.  


As I am sure you know, I have included a statement of confidentiality in the TPM  Session Guidelines (these are in your Basic Seminar Manual and at www.theophostic.com)  which says, "I will keep any information that is shared with me during this ministry session in utmost confidentiality. I will not share any information without first obtaining permission from the one with whom I have ministered."  Confidentiality is one of the defining points of what a true TPM session should look like.  If a person is unwilling to abide by this then they should not call what they are doing TPM.  If a person cannot maintain confidentiality while serving on a ministry team then there is likely something in him or her (lie-based thinking) that needs to be addressed and resolved.  Sometimes people's own lie-based pain does not allow them to hold back from talking with others.  A question I would ask is "What does it feel like to not talk outside of the ministry session?"  


 I have also included such statements in the forms we provide people to read and sign who are seeking ministry.  In one Hold Harmless Agreement provided in the Basic Training materials  it states,

"I understand that the person(s) and/or organization(s) named in this Agreement will keep confidential any personal information that may be shared by anyone during the prayer ministry session(s). I also accept responsibility for keeping confidential any personal information that may be shared by anyone during the prayer ministry session."  When people seeking ministry read this they can assume that what is shared in the session will be held in confidence and they themselves are bound by the same agreement. 


In the chapter in the TPM Basic Manual that discusses taking TPM to the church, I say concerning the ministry team, "Have every member sign a release stating that this is what they promise to do (maintain confidentiality)... If a member violates this agreement, then it is probably best that he or she is removed from the ministry. Inform them (facilitator and prayer partner) of the seriousness of this issue before they ever set foot in their first session."  I am not sure that I would give any warnings to those who violate this before this occurred.  I would clearly teach them upfront and release them of their ministry role after a first offense.  Confidentiality is an absolute in ministry.  I am not saying that a person who fails to do this has to be permanently removed from a ministry position, but would have to step down and be willing to have the issue addressed.  If such a person submitted to ministry around what motivated him or her to talk outside the session and found evident resolution I would consider reinstating him or her to his or her ministry role. 


I repeat this idea in the  same chapter when I say that we should never share information outside the circle of solution.  People in the "circle of solution" are those who are a part of the ministry team (specifically assigned to the ministry recipient) and those that the ministry recipient has agreed can be in the "know."  It is reality that every person has at least one trusted friend that would never tell anyone else what they are told...but that friend does too...and so on.... Never discuss what has been revealed in a session with ANYONE who is not a part of the ministry team working specifically with the ministry recipient, or who is not is a part of the circle of solution, and certainly not without the permission of the ministry recipient."


If you have a person that refuses to comply with the need for confidentiality I do  not believe this person needs to be on your ministry team.  I would simply make it very clear that confidentiality is a requirement and failure to do so means a person cannot be a part of the ministry team.  It is a good idea that the ministry session guidelines be a part of the policy that is upheld for your ministry team to follow. 


The only exception to this rule would be if a person reported being guilty of child abuse and the child was still a child or an elderly person was at risk.  It would be important that you check with legal authorities in your area about any other issues that might be relevant to your ministry.


Someone once asked me if a Christian brother or sister reported sinful behavior (such as adultery) would we have the spiritual responsibility to make this known, especially to the wounded party involved?  Matthew 18 provides a good model for restoring a person, however, you must also consider the potential of lawsuit brought up against your church if you make public what has been shared in confidence.  If you decide to make it a policy that you will make people's sin public then I would encourage you as a leader to be willing to submit to the same expectations.  As a leader in the church I would encourage you to provide the example of "confessing your sin one to the other" (James 5:16).  I would also suggest that you make this a written policy that the person receiving ministry is well aware of when he comes to his first session.  In all fairness, he needs to know that if he confesses anything there is the possibility that what is shared may   become public knowledge.  I would suggest that this be in written form on your initial intake form.  


Realistically, I would encourage you to provide good ministry with the one who has confessed his sin and allow the Lord to do a work in his or her heart and see if the outcome is not the person coming clean themselves with what they are doing.  I have found that people want to be free of the lies they believe as well as the sin in their lives.  As they are encouraged to seek the face of Christ and come into His presence they often become highly  motivated to find His release.


Finally, God never tells other people what I confess to Him so His model may be a good one to follow.


I hope this helps,


Ed Smith

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