Gossip Kills Churches

The author of the book of James wasn’t kidding.  Considering what people have said about Jesus for 2000 years – from the tempter  to Dan Brown  – it’s particularly interesting that these words came from a man that scholars believe was literally Jesus’ brother/half-brother.

The worst purveyors of gossip I’ve personally experienced have been church people.  This makes no sense to me logically or theologically.  Whole congregations of people who have stood up  and publicly proclaimed Jesus Christ to be their Lord and Savior on Sunday mornings barely get out of the church parking lot before sharing erroneous tidbits about people that can be life-ruining.

It’s a power play game, really.  In my current ministry, I see the firsthand devastation inflicted on individuals, families, and congregations by people who share lies as if they are truth:

– the pastor whose life is ruined because someone shares a rumor about her sex life or his finances, and it goes viral, especially if certain members see this as an opportunity to discredit the pastor,

– the elder who slips incendiary comments about the church treasurer’s honesty,

– the pastor who slanders a member in order to remove her from blocking his plans for the church.

How can followers of Jesus Christ do these things to each other?  People who sing “They will know we are Christians by our love”  and then fail to display self-control much less compassion.

We used to have notes on all the phones in the church building where I once served:

Is it true?  Is it kind?  Is it necessary?  It was a simple spiritual practice.

I’ve had to take church men and women old enough to be my parents and grandparents to the proverbial wood shed when they’ve shared erroneous information to hurt or discredit their brothers and sisters in Christ.  It’s embarrassing to do this, but it’s also essential.   We need to stop being “nice” in church and start speaking up when we see injustice – especially when it’s coming out of our mouths.

Kind of a preachy post today, but I’m weary of putting out those fires James was talking about.

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5 responses to “Gossip Kills Churches

  1. I use that 3 question guide to teach youth about gossip! It is a great simple tool that I wish everyone used!

  2. Thank you for giving me the opening discussion for our Session meeting tonight.

  3. pastormaryraine

    Not pushy – HONEST! Thank you! Perhaps it looks worse in the church because there, God continues to unmask our pretenses and brokenness.
    Psa. 138:8 “…Your love, O LORD, endures forever — do not abandon the works of your hands.”

  4. Two gossip stoppers I used when I chaired our church governing board and often heard gossip that was a way of furthering an agenda:
    “Why don’t we pray about this.”
    And when asked a question that was really just fishing for gossip:
    “That’s not my story to tell. Have you asked (the person being spoken about)?”

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