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Our Guidelines.

1. Safety. Our objective is to make our groups a place where we can feel safe to be vulnerable. Members will need to determine their own safety zones and what goes beyond those zones. The goal is to have everyone feel safe enough to expand those comfort zones as time elapses. If a discussion goes beyond a safety zone, the participant may excuse themselves from the group (just please let us know if you are only leaving for the week or for the remainder of the course).

2. Confidentiality. This is a necessity (except in a rare case where a person’s safety and health is threatened and the responsible thing is to do otherwise. For example: threat of physical harm to self or others, child abuse or neglect, adult abuse, etc., plus issues that require consultation by the group leader with the other group leaders). We want everyone to feel free and safe to share his or her issues without the threat of ridicule, judgment or exposure.

i. In the event of a breach of confidentiality, the responsible individual will be required to address the

entire group and we will handle it in the group setting.

3. Acceptance. The basic principle that defines H.O.P.E. is that we are here to welcome anyone who comes to us for help. H.O.P.E. is not a social club, a private club or a clique. We are here to welcome everyone, along with their problems and pain.

i. This means that we are very serious about not allowing any other agendas to develop within the

ministry that conflict with our principles, goals, purpose, vision and guidelines. If you see or experience a problem in this area at any time that you are a member of one of our H.O.P.E. groups, please bring it to the attention of your group leader.

4. This is not therapy. The leaders are not here for advice. As a transformation group, we are here to support, encourage and assist you on your journey through God’s process of transformation. By sharing our stories we will gain strength as a group. But what is shared should not be interpreted as direct advice from the leaders of the group. If more intensive therapy is desired, we can refer you to individuals who can help you pursue that independently of this group.

5. Accountability. The participation and actions of all H.O.P.E. members are accountable to the other group members, leaders and the guidelines of H.O.P.E. H.O.P.E. is not a spectator sport and we will not enable those who seek our help to develop into spectators. Neither will we allow H.O.P.E. members to act in a manner that deviates from our purpose, principles or guidelines.

i. For leadership accountability, we will not meet with group members of the opposite sex alone outside

of the group. However, if needed, the leaders will make themselves available to group members by telephone, email or group meetings. (In all situations, a third party is highly recommended in meetings, on conference calls or copied on written communications). Plus, we highly encourage group members to meet in safe situations outside of the group and develop their support networks.

6. First person focus. When issues directly involve other parties, we will limit our remarks to those in the first person. We will not allow the “bashing” of others. We are not here to criticize, condemn or attack others; we are here to support you. It is important that the focus remains on you and therefore discussions that deviate from that will not be tolerated. During the time of Checking In, we also ask that you limit your remarks to 3-5 minutes in order to give everyone equal opportunity to share.

7. The person speaking during Checking In has the floor. When someone is Checking In, other group members are not to interrupt them. Checking In is to be free from disruptions, interruptions, criticism or judgmental comments. As long as the information you share is focused on how you feel about it or how it is affecting you (good, bad or ugly), we want to hear about it. What you share can be directly related to a topic from the lessons, totally unrelated to the lesson topics and about something happening in your life right now, or somewhere in between.
i. If a member’s Checking In gets “off track” or becomes inappropriate, it is the group leader’s responsibility to direct them back on course. At the completion of a member’s Checking In, if other group members want to share supportive and encouraging remarks, that is OK. In fact, we encourage it. Just remember Guideline 4 and that this is not therapy and those comments are not to be interpreted as professional advice.

8. Prayer.
We would appreciate members praying for the other group members. This will be beneficial in providing the support network necessary for courage and renewed strength to take action on the road to transformation.

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