Church Gossip

Posted: June 6, 2011 in Motivation

There was a time when I was a naïve Christian.  I found it hard to believe there was such a thing as gossip in the church.  Yet, sadly it exists.  One website I came across refers to it as Christian cancer.

What effect does gossip have? It breaks down relationships. Exodus 23:1, TLB. “Do not pass along untrue reports. Do not cooperate with an evil man by affirming on the witness stand something you know is false.”

Gossip is as harmful and lasting as physical wounds. Proverbs 25:18, TLB. “Telling lies about someone is as harmful as hitting him with an axe, or wounding him with a sword, or shooting him with a sharp arrow.”

Gossip wastes valuable time. II Thessalonians 3:11-12, TLB. “Yet we hear that some of you are living in laziness, refusing to work, and wasting your time in gossiping. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ we appeal to such people—we command them—to quiet down, get to work, and earn their own living.”

Gossip can ruin friendships. Proverbs 16:28, TLB. “An evil man sows strife; gossip separates the best of friends.”

Gossip is based on rumors. Proverbs 11:13, TLB. “A gossip goes around spreading rumors, while a trustworthy man tries to quiet them” (http://www.bibleinfo.com/en/topics/gossip).

King Solomon had this to say about the matter, “A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much” (Proverbs 20:19, NIV).  I can personally attest to this.  A friend of mine told an elder at the church that he was divorced.  He told her this in confidence but then she went and told another church member who in turn told the woman my friend was interested in.  Needless to say, the woman he was interested in was upset but thankfully she did not dump him.  Solomon was a wise man and was right when he warned that we should stay away from people who talk too much.  Just as they talk about others behind their backs, it would come as no surprise that they may be talking your name behind your back.  There are certain people who should never know your personal business.

I read a funny story of how one church member handled the church gossip.  Mildred, the church gossip and self-appointed monitor of the church’s morals, has been sticking her nose into other people’s business.   Many members are afraid of her and don’t say anything when Mildred speaks out.

Mildred accused Frank, a new member of the congregation, of being an alcoholic.  She went on to say she saw his old pickup parked in front of the town’s only bar one afternoon and emphatically told Frank, along with several others, that every one knew what he was doing.

Frank, a man of few words, stared at her for a moment and just turned and walked away.  He didn’t explain, defend, or deny.  He just said nothing.

Later that evening, Frank quietly parked his pickup in front of Mildred’s house…. walked home…. and left it there all night.  I would love to see Mildred’s face the next morning.  I’m sure this cured her of gossiping.

A gossip says things that are inappropriate, unflattering, embarrassing, hurtful or humiliating about a person. Some people think that because the information is true that it is not considered gossipping if they share it with others.  But, in my opinion it is.  In my situation it was true that I was pregnant and unwed but what wasn’t true was the supposition that the father of my unborn child was a church member whom I considered to be a friend.  He told me that some of these people wanted blood.  I ended up leaving that church. 

Gossip is destructive and should have no place in the house of God.  Those who profess to be His children and followers of His Son should not be indulging in this  kind of communication which would tear down relationships instead of building them up. 

How do we handle gossip?  Here are some tips for ministers and church members:

1. Avoid association with persons who gossip (Prov. 20:19).

2. Expose works of darkness by reporting gossip to the pastor that he may confront and offer correction. Gossip should be treated as any other vile sin (Eph. 5:11).

3. Ask yourself the question, Am I a part of the problem or a part of the solution? If not, you don’t need to hear the information.

4. Ask the accuser if you can go directly to the person of whom is being spoken and use their name so that the problem can be corrected.

5. Don’t believe everything you hear. Members may come to the preacher with information which accuses others that may or may not be true. Go to the accused person first to hear their side of the story.

6. We must make certain our facts are accurate.

7. We must be certain our motives are pure.

8. Periodically preach on the destructive nature of gossip

9. Build a strong coalition of church leaders who are loyal to you and will help maintain the integrity of the church.

10. Become proactive. Constantly be upbeat of others accomplishments and speak highly of the unity of the church.

11. If necessary, exercise church discipline when a person refuses to head godly warnings.

12. The preacher and his wife must both learn to keep every confidence private.

13. Most who gossip are reluctant to admit to gossip, therefore it is necessary for the preacher and church leaders to hold the standard high and refuse to allow gossip in the church (http://bcpm.org/2009/12/dealing-with-gossip/).

Don’t encourage gossip.  If someone tries to tell you something about someone else, excuse yourself and walk away or tell the person “I have a lot of respect for you but I don’t want to sit here and listen to this” or “I don’t like gossiping.”  The person might not take too kindly to this but remember, you are doing what is right in God’s eyes and that’s all that matters.  You’re a God pleaser not a people pleaser and there is nothing pleasing about gossip.  It’s a cancer that you don’t want to get into your system.  

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Comments
  1. Susan says:

    I have been experiencing this as a couple wants me to leave our church. I am reading that this happens often. THough I am sad, I am glad I am not alone! I will not be leaving our church. I will not longer continue to prove myself. I serve a God who sees and hears. I will live right and leave the rest to him, praying for those who continually spread rumors/lies and gossip about me.

    • notestowomen says:

      Hi Susan,

      Sorry it has taken almost a year to reply to your comment. As long as you are right with the Lord, it doesn’t matter what others think or say about you. It’s good that you are praying for those who are seeking to hurt you.

      God bless,
      AB

  2. debora says:

    I was setting at a church meeting and my paster was talking about one of the elder ,I am an Elder myself , what sould i do.

    • notestowomen says:

      Hi Debora,

      As the pastor of a church, he should have been more discreet with his conversations at the meeting. Obviously what he said made you uncomfortable and such talk is likened to gossiping. Gossip has no place in the house of God. The Word of God is clear regarding this. For example, gossip brings harm to others as outlined in Proverbs 25:18 “A man who bears false witness against his neighbor Is like a club, a sword, and a sharp arrow”.

      It is based on rumors as mentioned in Proverbs 11:13, “A talebearer reveals secrets, But he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter.” It can destroy lives and ruin relationships.

      If I were you, I would speak privately to the pastor about this and let him know that you were uncomfortable with it.

      God bless,
      AB

  3. Seeking God in Church says:

    It cuts to the bone, doesn’t it? Especially when people held to a higher standard, such as deacon’s wives, their friends, pastors, etc. do it. Can God be present in a church when devils are present? I’m serious. I even know of a case where a deacon’s wife was gossiping about her husband’s conversation with another church member, and passed it to the preacher.

    • notestowomen says:

      Yes, it cuts to the bone. Gossip has no place in God’s house of worship. Who would want to be a part of a church where trust and confidentiality are disregarded? The deacon’s wife needs to read what Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 3:11 about the wives of deacons. “Likewise, [their] wives [must be] reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things.”

      God bless,
      AB

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