Stop Gossip in the Church

Do church members gossip? Do they gossip about each other? I think we know the answer. And I think we know that all of us have been guilty of gossip at some time. But we also know that gossip is a horrendous habit that can assault, crush and destroy even the strongest believer.

Gossip is particularly damaging in the local church because people are often more open with fellow Christians about their weaknesses and needs. And because those weaknesses are out in the open it may be that gossip is more common in the church than anywhere else. A frightening thought wouldn’t you say?

Just think for a moment. How many people have been the target of gossip from within the church? How many have been hurt, even mortally wounded by the careless comments of another? Too many I am sure.

Gossip Is A Real Problem

Regardless of why, loose talk hurts. Victims of the gossipers tongue first of all feel embarrassment that their problems are now public. No one wants their dirty laundry tossed about before others.

After the shame the victim feels betrayed or let down by the person in whom they confided. We imagine how Jesus felt when betrayed and denied by Judas and then Peter. We also remember our own pain when someone betrays us. It hurts – badly.

Gossip destroys influence. Even strong, mature Christians deal with serious shortcomings daily (Romans 3:23). Revealing private details of  their struggles can harm others looking to them for strength.

But most of all, gossip is a problem because it is a sin. It violates the Gold Rule of Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31. It violates our Lord’s command to love one another…” (John 13:34; Romans 12:10; 1 John 3:11). Often the gossip is untrue which adds to its sinfulness. Gossip is simply wrong (1 Timothy 5:13; 2 Thessalonians 3:11;).

Gossip In the Church

Well, we expect gossip at the office. We expect it at the ballpark. We even expect it at a PTA meeting or during a telephone call with a friend. But we do not expect it at church.

Gossip seems to occur in the church for several reasons and not all of them are bad. In fact the motive may be noble but the outcome is still sinful.

Stop Gossip Intended to Help

Sometimes, people think they are helping by telling another about someone’s problem.

“I was sure glad to see Sandra at worship this morning.”

Me too. I know she’s been struggling recently,” came the reply, which unfortunately did not end there. “Sandra and Bill have been fighting a lot. I heard he was a bit too friendly with a girl at work. Of course Sandra has been busy with her new job. I guess she just needs to spend more time with him.”

Now probably, our speaker really thinks she is helping by “briefing” another Christian on how to help Sandra. After all, the church is a family and we all work together to encourage and exhort one another. But there was very little help here. Even assuming that what the speaker said was true, this did nothing to encourage or assist Sandra. Instead, both she and Bill are objects of curiosity and, in the case of Bill, scorn.

Stop Gossip Intended to Apply the Lesson

Every preacher has experienced it. It usually occurs at the door of the church where people are speaking to  the preacher as they leave the assembly.

It goes like this:

“That was a fine lesson on watching your language. I know certain people have a problem with that,” he says while nodding toward a brother in Christ.

Some take the lesson and use it to hammer someone else. It’s concerning to me that the message means so little to the hearers and that they can so quickly brush it off and point it at someone else.

Anyway you cut it and whatever motive you attach to it, it is still gossip.

Stop Gossip That’s Just Plain Gossip

Of course the old reasons for gossip are still present even in the church. Envy, covetousness, malice and jealousy cause gossip in and out of the body of Christ. Paul told the Galatians that these things are “works of the flesh” (Galatians 5:19-21). They have no place in the life of the Christian. Gossip is but one outcome of such characteristics. With God’s changing power we can eliminate such from our lives.

Idle talk is perhaps the single most common cause of gossip. We don’t intend to hurt anyone and we would never knowingly gossip about a brother or sister, but we do. I guess we assume the information is known or that the person we are speaking to is close enough and dear enough that we can talk about things with them. Such an assumption is usually wrong.

Whatever the reason, gossip is wrong and we must do all we can to stop gossip.

Stop Gossip by Tightening Loose Tongues

Here are five ideas to help but the brakes on waging tongues. As always, start with self first.

  1. Make a conscious effort to monitor your own words. Actively listen to yourself. Make careful note of what you talk about, who you talk about and precisely what you say. Ensure that your words are Godly words that directly build-up, not tear down.
  2. Make a conscious effort to monitor your own hearing. What ever comes into your mind makes an impression. Don’t listen to the juicy details about someone you know. Either move the conversation to a new subject or move along yourself.
  3. Speak out to stop gossip. There is no need to be nasty but just let people know you will not be a party to gossip. It might be easier to tell your close friends before gossip begins that you are trying to break a bad habit. When the talk starts, interrupt and remind people that you’d rather not talk about other people.
  4. Assume unflattering stories are false. When you hear something tawdry about someone do you assume it is true? What if we all just assumed that the gossip was false? Would that slow things down?
  5. Let gossip end with you. What if every piece of gossip depended upon you? Would it live or die? Slay gossip by refusing to repeat it. Keep count for the next week. How many pieces of gossip did you kill? You might be surprised.

Gossip is incredibly common and incredibly destructive. There is no place for gossip anywhere but especially in the church where are brothers and sisters and servants of the Most High. Do your part to squelch wagging tongues!

As always your comments here on the blog are welcomed. Please share your thoughts.

22 comments On Stop Gossip in the Church

  • Wow…powerful words and so true.

  • I really enjoyed reading your articles on gossip. I am presenting this same lesson to a group of women in P’cola this coming weekend. I really appreciated the lesson about gossip in the church. Your examples are perfect. I WILL borrow those examples for my talk. 🙂 . Thanks for all the work you do!

    • Thank you for the kind comments. The problem is much larger than we think. These articles are among the top 5 accessed here and have been almost since they were written. Good luck with your programs.

  • Thank you very much. I have been the object of gossip in the last months in the women’s circle. I have a big heart and am very sensitive to this sort of thing. God and me are good, and that is all that really matters no matter how much the betrayal of these people hurts me….I know I am good with god.

  • Thanks for visiting and for leaving a comment. You might consider addressing the gossip and gossipers directly. People who gossip tend to be cowards and will quickly fold. Keep your relationship with God intact and keep it growing.

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  • Thanks for this enlightening article. This is a sin so common today that an entire industry depends on it and so pervasive in the church is almost destroying it. The church of God will stand anyhow.

  • This article was extremely helpful! I have been the subject of gossip, but I feel as though the gossip was brought on by myself. Now I have changed my ways and reset my priorities, but word about me is still going around and I keep telling myself to stay strong (easier said than done). I have faith that God will guide me through these times.

    • Thanks Hannah, I appreciate your visit. You make an interesting point about bringing the gossip on yourself. We do that sometimes don’t we? But don’t give up! Remember the reward is worth all the effort!

  • I have been bullied for over one year now. Rumors and lies follow me at church but I will not leave. I believe God put me there for a reason and despite everything, I love my church. I know who is behind the bullying and yes, it hurts. It is painful and leaves its own kind of scars, but I am strong. The bullying consists of sending out emails that are filthy…spoofing my address so that church members actually believe I did this. My friends are being targeted and I am being isolated. It is okay. I serve a God who sees and hears. I trust He will use this for good.

    • I do wonder what the people said about Mary Magdalene? What evil things were said behind Peter’s back after the betrayal? What was the gossip about persecutor-turned-preacher Paul? We cannot change people against their will but we can change ourselves and the way we look at such people. Keep the faith!

  • In an Hour when the the Lord is calling all Intercessors to Pray for our Nation, all the more reason to nip Gossip in the Bud Lest Disunity destroys this mandate.

  • yes this is so true my son got a lot of unfalse rumors sent his way very untrue rumors

  • I have also been praying against gossip in my church. I have had ridiculous rumers said about me-hearsay, If anyone walks in godliness the bible says they will be persecuted for rightousness sake. The Lord told me gossip is defiling the church and it keeps the focus off Jesus where it should be. We should all be focused on Christ, not each other. If you are a gossiper your relationship with Christ is not good. If you have been gossiped about, forgive and pray for them and you can be very protected by God from the effects of it, very protected. God is our rear gaurd..

    • Thanks Rachael, I think the various articles here actually show where and how God has warned us all about gossip. God is our guard for sure. I prefer to have him out front, don’t you?
      Please come back and visit often. It’s good to have you commenting!

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  • great article! i’m sure it was meant for me. my search led right to you. like
    AA is there a Christian group to help one another? close friends and i have been praying for strength and wisdom and are being somewhat successful in our Christian walk concerning what’s gossip what’s love.. Love for each other and a sense of humor as we catch ourseves and each other has been an answer to prayer i must be willing for correction. and willing to love my God more and serve him better!.

  • Your article is exceelent. Church gossip is a major problem even in Kenya, my country. May God help us to avoid the snares of the enemy.

  • Gossip is destroying me. I follow Matt 18 but Church doesn’t. Gossip is sin but they deny they are gossiping. The Ministers are gossiping among themselves when members tell them something about me and then they make a decision to ban me from all classes, functions in Church, volunteer work, talking to others that are running functions, choir, instrument lessons or ability to volunteer in any capacity or participate in any capacity due to gossip that any of the Ministers will not tell me what it is about. I pleaded with them in emails, phone calls, appointments, etc. but they will not tell me and will not let me participate. I am stuck and do not know what to do even though I quote Scripture and the Board backs all their Ministers when I talked to the Superintendent.

  • I was banned from all functions in Church based on gossip. I do not know who is causing it. I left another mega Church because of gossip. Now people in that Church is attending my Church for some of the small group classes and are complaining to my Ministers the first class. The Ministers have banned me from all classes, volunteer work, functions, choir, Missions, women’s Ministry and all functions in the Church. This is a Mega Church and who knows people all over the Country in Churches. Eventually any Church I join will share who I am with other Churches and then gossip starts all over again. I do not know what this is about. I have examined my normal behavior and do not know 5 weeks later what I have done to be banned from everything. I have been there for 1 1/2 yrs and no problem except when others from last church have come to classes at my Church. A lawyer stated that the Church can discriminate since it is a private Church. They have cut me off of all functions and is humiliating in front of my friends who are able to attend functions in Church and I cannot and they are asking and I cannot say because then they will call it gossip. Churches tend to share gossip with other Ministers in Churches where they have meetings and get togethes in other Churches, so you get Blackballed in not only this Church but many Churches across USA that they affiliate with. I have no family/relatives except the Church, so now I am alone. I do not know what to do and the Ministers refuse to tell me what this is about and they shun we continuously. Help, I am alone and isolated from people. I have prayed about this and God shows me loud and clear that this is gossip and no love. Ministers refuse to accept Scriptures or anything I say and there is a double standard.

    • Sometimes, Jennifer, you must simply walk away. I note that not even Jesus changed every person he came into contact with. There are people in our world that are incorrigible. I would encourage you to seek a home with Christians in your area that are not behaving as these do. If you wish, I would be happy to help you find just such a home.

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