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How to Shut Down Gossip in Your Church

If this is done faithfully, then people will become aware of gossip when it comes to them or perhaps when they find themselves scratching the seemingly insatiable itch to dish up a little sumthin on someone. They will also think twice about vocalizing their grumbling about another person to someone else. If convinced of the vileness of the practice in God’s eyes, then they will carefully avoid “gossip-baiting” people. This is the practice when someone thinks that someone else may have some intel on another person or situation. Then they subtly begin talking about it, gently massaging the perimeter of the topic, while waiting to see if the person will take the bait and give up the goods.

What if the church could spot gossip a mile away? What if they hated it? What if they believed the Bible and were convinced that to gossip was to display hatred for God and others? What if they believed that it served to fracture the unity that Jesus bought and the Spirit created? Then they would react like an NBA big man and reject the gossip by swatting it into the third row.

For example, as a pastor, someone might come to me and say, ”I need to talk to you about something.” I usually reply, “Something or someone?” If they “someone,” then I say, “Did you talk to ‘someone’ yet?” I redirect them back. I don’t want to hear about someone if that someone hasn’t heard about it first.

This may be different for a layman. Perhaps someone will come up to you and say, “I am really frustrated with ______ ‘s attitude. They walk around like they own the place. She never says ‘hi’ or even looks at me. What is her deal?” You may be tempted to say, “Yeah. You’re right. I’ve never noticed it, but she ignores me too!” But, let me encourage you to think God’s thoughts after him. Reject the gossip. Instead, something like, “Have you talked to her about this? Please don’t drag me into your issues with her. You need to work this out—whatever it is—for the sake of Christ.” This rejects the bait of the complaint and sheds light on the issue.

(2) Rebuke it.

Let’s say someone is talking about another person. They may get started slowly but soon enough they carving up their character like a Thanksgiving turkey. As you get your bearings and manage to interrupt the onslaught, you should says something like, “Brother/sister, you are really speaking negatively about ____. Is this even true? This is gossip. Have you even spoken to them about this?”

Go on to show them what the Bible says and how destructive this is. Show them that they are defaming their brother/sister, a child of God. Explain how this assaults God’s plan and harms God’s people. Call the sin of gossip what it is and tell them that they should in fact repent and bear fruit in repentance by controlling their tongue and speaking words of grace. Once we understand the damage of gossip, we will become vigilant to ensure that it is expunged from our churches. This means that we will be compelled to have the difficult conversations that call it what it is and demand that our brothers and sisters think God’s thoughts after him, even about gossip.

(3) Redirect it.

There are three aspects of this: first to Christ, second back to the person and third to others they have gossiped to.

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erikraymond@churchleaders.com'
Erik is a pastor at Emmaus Bible Church (EmmausBibleChurch.org), a church plant south of Omaha. Converse with Erik on Twitter at @erikraymond.