Small Groups, Confidentiality, and the Law
What are the legal parameters for confidentiality in church small groups?

One of the benefits of working on the team at Christianity Today International is that I sometimes get "insider information" from some of the other resources in our corporate family.

For example, the following question was recently sent to the editors over at

"An issue has come up in our church about peoples' legal obligations regarding confidential matters discussed in small group meetings. We strive to maintain strict confidentiality on things discussed in our small group settings. We want them to be a 'safe place' where people can share their troubles and not have to worry about group members spreading gossip or the information somehow ending up in a courtroom.

One woman we heard from was in a small group in another church and group members were called in to testify against her in court. Before joining one of our small groups she wanted to be assured that sort of thing would not happen.

So my question is, how private are small groups really? We typically get information second-hand and are not usually witnesses to things that happen in people's homes or in their personal relationships."

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This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is published with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations."

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