Church Gossip

Church gossip is especially bad. It’s not funny and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Gossip is dangerous no matter where it is found but when it’s in God’s family it seems much more hurtful. After all, you expect the best from your brothers and sisters. If someone in the workplace or in class talks behind your back it still hurts but it is expected. Church gossip hurts people and the cause of Christ. It must stop.

We’ve had plenty to say about church gossip on this website. By the looks of our article statistics church gossip remains a major problem in  the body of Christ so we thought we would revisit the subject.

Solomon knew gossip in his day.

“A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much” (Proverbs 20:19 NIV).

Here is Paul’s assessment of waging tongues.

“The were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are filled with envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips” (Romans 1:29).

So we should be clear, gossip is a bad thing.

Church Gossip Defined

Gossip is one of those things that we know when we hear it. But putting a definition together is not so easy. This definition is imperfect but seems to get the point across:

Gossip is the inappropriate  communication of unflattering, embarrassing, hurtful or humiliating information about a person to another person. Truth is irrelevant.

There are two key parts here that I want to focus upon. First is the term “inappropriate.” Sometimes it is necessary to say things about someone that is not kind. Legal cases are probably the best example. But Jesus even allows such talk (Matthew 18:15-20). I think we all know that this is not church gossip.

The second part I want you to notice is the last phrase. “Truth is irrelevant.” How many times have you heard someone say, “this isn’t gossip because its true”? It doesn’t matter if the “unflattering, embarrassing, hurtful or humiliating information” is true. It is still gossip. Apply the Golden Rule when trying to define gossip (Matthew 7:12). If roles were reversed, would you want it said about you?

Inadvertent Church Gossip

Sometimes we gossip accidentally. There is no thought of gossip and certainly no intent to harm or embarrass. Yet the words still come out. Maybe a friend confides in you or asks for advice about a delicate subject. You do your best to help. But later, while speaking with someone else, you let the secret slip. Now what?

At the instant you realize your error, explain your words and ask for confidentiality. Maybe the damage can be limited. Second, and this is hard, confess your mistake to the person who confided in you. This will prevent them from thinking you deliberately violated their confidence. It will also demonstrate that you are serious about being a good, confidential friend. Embarrassing? Yes. But you will find that your friend will respect you for your honesty.

Remember, gossip need not be intentional to be hurtful.

Breaking the habit of gossip is as hard as breaking any other bad habit. But it is especially important in the church. There is no other group or assembly like the body of Christ. Relationships in Christ must be nurtured and defended. Gossip, for whatever reason harms the body and must be stopped.

With prayer and by God’s good grace you can shatter the gossip habit. Then you will be equipped to help other break the same habit.

13 comments On Church Gossip

  • Excellent!

  • Oh the wretched tongue! How much it gets us in trouble. Gossip is one of the hardest addictions to break. It is indeed an addiction. Just try and not only stop speaking gossip but also stop listening and see how fast you start craving that juicy tidbit. To truly stop gossip it is also neccessary to take that extra step and stop listening too. NOT EASY! Thanks for reminding me of this important message.

  • Good Morning Clark,

    Excellent message! We have recently had a discussion about gossip in and out of church. One woman in particular argues that she only asks questions so she can pray more specifically. Forgive me if i am a little thick headed but name of the hotel, the meeting place and where the adulteress met for their tryst just seems completely….NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS. It is NONE OF MY BUSINESS. If someone is asking for prayers…do just that. Pray for them without ceasing. I have found some seem to try to keep their gossip life fed by feigning concern for others. They are channeling gossip via prayer request. If they only knew everything they could pray better and if they tell their best friend/prayer partner it would really help them pray even better as a “team”. Before you know it they
    have told two friends and so on and so on and so on. Sorry for the “soap box sermonette” but this has been particularly rough on my husband and I as we were thrust in the middle of a situation that everyone and their dog wanted to know about. We said what we were asked to say by the parties involved. I even changed hairdressers because of the “grill” marks left on my face when i left her shop. LOL Things have settled down and we managed to actually help the family in the story. Unfortunately, they did divorce, but the teenage daughters seem to be getting on with their lives. I guess i said all this to say….God is well aware of the details and if you think you have to have the “details” before you can effectively pray for someone…think again and ask yourself if you have pure intentions or you are just gossiping.

    Thanks so much for what you do…do you happen to have cd’s available of your lesson?. Would be awesome to hear the encouraging words and BOTH our sons mention you consistently as one of the best things about Exposure Youth Retreats.

    because of Christ

    Shelly M

  • Hi Shelly,

    Thanks for your great comments. I think you made some powerful points that people should pay careful attention too.

    Also, I am Bryant, not Clark. He’s at Cottondale and has a blog called the Cottondale Converter. We talk almost daily so I will pass your comments along to him.


  • Yeah, I’ve got to get some of those CD’s of Clark’s too! So Encouraging!

  • 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.

    • Bless you, Susan. I will be praying for you. I pray you find a place of safety somewhere. Entrust your self to the “one who judges righteously”.
      The email thing sounds a bit over the top, that is even beyond gossip. You need to talk to the pastor about this.

  • All too often the minister aids in the gossip by not addressing it. At the church I used to attend the youth minister is a gossip. She holds a grudge against me because I dated her husband before she did. I chose to end my relationship with him after a year of dating because he seemed to lack a strength in his character, too passive. I am a single divorced woman, I don’t dress inappropriately, I don’t try to engage married men in conversation and I definately do not engage this woman’s husband in conversation. He however has tried to engage me in conversation. I am polite but move away as quickly as possible. Our minister moved to another town and the churc went without a permanent priest for over a year leaving this woman in charge. It is sad what has become of the church I used to love but I have chosen not to stay and harm myself. God is present in too many ppl and too many places to suffer needlessly.

  • One more thing I would like to add. It seems to me that having youth ministers that have no training or education and prescription for future disaster. I love a church with a good healthy youth group and I do think that this is a vital key in growing a church. Perhaps because I work in sales and marketing I find it hard to believe that someone is not held accountable for their behavior. Especially after numerous complaints. Very sad but I guess there will have to be some public embarrassment before a code of conduct or some type of policies and procedures will be put in place. Unfortunately an episode that makes the news will give ppl more reason to not want to go back to church so sad.

  • regarding gossip what i think is when people are intimated,afraid and most especially jelouse of their subject they use their insecurity to bring other people down and make them feel worthless of them selves,and as with what we christian called holy gossip,the church is lacking love and spiritual growth,the word of God is not been preached like in the days of old,now pastors are afraid to loose members that is why when a gossiper is the highest payer of tithe and offering they go cought free from their evil,gossip is destroying marriages and yet it is ok.gossip may sound small but will carry us to hell if we are not careful. christian must be christian and an unbeliver who want to be the same should be.


  • This topic of gossip and the comments that follow are really opening my eyes. I have always felt an internal struggle about it being wrong, but on the other side…it not being that bad. As I’m reading this the Lord is bringing to my mind, sad to say, many many specific times that I have gossiped and seen nothing wrong with it. I think that I have struggled with this for many years and never really called it what it was. I’ve always justified it in some way and have therefore had a certain lack of peace for a long time. The way God is opening my eyes to the severity of it right now, is giving me a little taste of a peace and freedom that will be mine if I repent of this sin and turn from it. I would love prayer from whoever reads this, because I have a long road of change ahead of me. I know the Lord has conquered even this at the cross though, and He will help me.

    • I’m glad you have found strength here. There are no quick answers and the purification of our lives comes about slowly at times. God can be trusted to bring us along as we lean upon him and obey his word.

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