While a church records management policy can assist you in the efficient use of the records, it should also guide you in the ethical use of those records. You have record of people’s financial giving and other personal details. Privacy must be guarded. Keeping people’s information confidential is an issue of respect.
Keeping records confidential means:
1) You only share their records on a need to know basis.
Example: The treasurer may need to share people’s annual giving totals with an administrative assistant who prepares the tax forms. The treasurer should not have a need to share these records with pastors or other ministry leaders.
2) You do not otherwise give out information without their express permission.
Example: If someone calls for the name or address or any other personal information of a church member, you do not give them that information. Rather, you request and pass on the callers information to the person about whom they are inquiring.
3) You guard any lists of personal data from being accessed by anyone outside of the church.
Example: You might never sell people’s information to marketers but even if someone from a local organization requests it for fundraisers or community events, you do not provide this information even if no money is exchanged.
Confidentiality guards against the misuse of their information.
How easy it could be for a pastor or ministry leader to look at certain records he/she doesn’t need to see, like financial giving, and pass judgment on people. Or, how easy it becomes for people to gossip about what they see or hear.
A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret. (Prov. 11:13)
If you are not conscious of people’s right to privacy, you very likely will not put as many safety measures as you should in storage or disposal of the data which could open you to hackers or other kinds of inadvertent or blatant stealth of their information. — Church leaders must stress the need for confidentiality out of Christ-like concern for people’s welfare.