As a pastor, I have heard far more “junk” than I care to hear sometimes.
It always frustrates me to watch how gossip begins in the church about other people’s problems. Many times the hardest repercussion of any sin is the gossip which stirs about the people involved. It makes it most difficult to restore a person when they are the subject of every private (behind their back) conversation. Plus, gossip always injures innocent people in the process.
I have been the victim of unfair gossip and know the pain it can cause. In my experience, gossip is never helpful to people or to the Kingdom of God. Gossip has become something I hate, because I have seen it destroy so many people!
Gossip exaggerates every situation. It keeps the one who did wrong loaded with guilt and frustration and from experiencing the fullness of God’s grace.
(The Bible talks a great deal about this issue of gossip. Consider these passages: Proverbs 11:13, Proverbs 16:28, Proverbs 20:19, Proverbs 26:20, Romans 1:29, 2 Corinthians 12:20 and 1 Timothy 5:13.)
With this in mind, I’m listing 7 suggestions for stopping, or at least slowing, the spread of gossip in the church.
Will you consider each and internalize them as needed?
In other words, if the shoe fits will you wear it?
Together, perhaps we can help stop the deadly spread of this harmful virus!
Here are 7 ways to stop church gossip:
Don’t repeat something unless you know it to be true first hand.
Second hand knowledge is not enough to justify repeating something. You will get something wrong and it will hurt others. By the way, reading it on Facebook does not make it true.
Don’t repeat unless it is helpful to do so, you have a vested interest and permission.
Never share another person’s story unless you have permission to share or what your sharing is equally your story as to the other person’s. It is almost always gossip if anything is shared otherwise.
Don’t “confess” other people’s sins.
Unless you are in physical danger – share your sins, but not someone else’s. And doing so in the name of a prayer request is not a good excuse.
If you must tell, and have passed the test on the first three suggestions, tell only what happened.
Do not share your commentary on the situation or your “I think this is probably what happened” or why you think it happened. Just the facts – as you know them to be true.
Choose to pray for others every time you are tempted to tell their story.
Instead of telling their story – instead of spreading gossip – pray for them and your willpower not to share anything you shouldn’t.
When someone tells you something you don’t need to know, don’t allow curiosity to be your guide.
Stop the person and tell them you don’t want to know. Remember, if they will spread gossip about others they will spread it about you.
Keep the circle of confession limited to the people involved or to no more than needed for accountability purposes.
Even when it is your story you usually don’t have to tell the world. The wider the circle and the more the story is repeated the more likely things will turn into gossip – and, the more people who will be injured.
If my tone seems intent about the issue it’s because I am. I have little patience for gossips. My desire is to see people live in healthy community together. Gossip is a betrayer of this becoming reality.