Done With The Petty Church Gossip



I’m really tired of pastors (including myself) talking trash about other pastors, and Christians about other Christians. I’m tired of pastors saying, “This isn’t gossip if we’re discussing people in ministry.” Even if that were true, we smuggle in all our petty bitterness under the disguise of caring about someone when we really don’t. That’s more reason to be careful, not less. It doesn’t matter if you only gossip with people you “trust” or with just one other person: you are still feeding your inner-troll.

I don’t believe your church and my church exist within their buildings. They don’t end at your back door or my front lawn. They co-exist in the global body of Christ. We are one. So when you talk bad about another pastor or another Christian down the street — any fellow human being — you are undermining the work of God in their lives. Even suggesting that another pastor is “unworthy” of his position (which is already true) will kill a local ministry. All for what? To satisfy our desperate attention-seeking ego for two seconds? To claim we got the secret-sauce of the “right” methodology? You can’t possibly know the extent of damage you’re doing to OUR church, which is also your body. We effectively bite our own fingers and toes. We eat our own. No one is impressed by this, especially not the world. And I’m tired of that sick feeling in my stomach when I leave a room knowing I just spit on Jesus’s face.

If you’ve been brainwashed into thinking your church is the only one doing it right: you’ve fallen for a tribal, cult-like, isolated, nationalistic paradigm which Jesus came to destroy. If you think a pastor is a false teacher, you are not “protecting” people by publicly shaming him. Instead of using your energy to blast the guy, we could be on our knees praying in sweat and tears for God to rend their hearts open and to have mercy on us all. Most likely though, this guy isn’t a false teacher but he simply does ministry differently than you, and you’re butt-hurt for reasons that won’t matter when you stand before God’s face-melting glory at the end of your one short life. If you have to call out a false teacher, point at yourself first.

I know that no matter how much we divide our own church, God still has grace and He will still work in His sovereignty. But it will be in spite of us and not through us. I would much rather God work through me than past me. It’s better. It is how we will not just survive, but thrive.

I have defended crappy terrible pastors for years now. I have also talked my share of trash. I’m done with both. I will say nothing less than to point to Jesus. I beg of you: celebrate people, because God loves them too. Pray for them, because they need it. And pray for yourself, to let go of excuses and let go of your pride. Gossip is gossip, regardless of what else you call it. I plead with you: please join me in stopping the stream of crap that so quickly emerges from our mouths, which have the potential for greater than this.

— J

19 thoughts on “Done With The Petty Church Gossip

  1. This is true. There are many hurt souls because of gossip in the church. Gossiping does not bring any message of restoration;in fact, it worsens the damage and makes it hard for a person or a congregation to move forward. Gossip in all its sense is a condemning voice against a brother or a sister.

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    1. Right on. I remember teaching on this once and said, “Let’s all pretend that so-and-so was rumored to have an itchy butt. Now every time he adjusts his belt or shifts to the side or makes a grunting noise, you will always assume it’s because of his itchy butt, even if you find out it’s not true. Our words can throw strangling filters on other people, and it’s hard to reverse that tide and un-ring the bell.” It was a really silly example, but just relatable enough so that everyone understood: our words have a way of killing momentum and growth. Once the suggestions is made, it’s tough to go back. Better to get all the facts first, and even then, to show grace.

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  2. JS, here’s my someone pointed response…

    i’m really tired of pastors and ministers who bash the church/Christians rather than proclaim the gospel to people who need to hear and become disciples of Jesus.

    I wonder why it’s easier feel ‘relevant’ by knocking the saints than it is to actually confront people who haven’t yet or continue to refuse to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior? that might make for a good article.
    -mike

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  3. It’s sad though because most of the pastors who are gossiping about their own “sheep” will never be called out on it and even if they were to be called out on it – they probably wouldn’t see the fault within themselves because they are too busy pointing fingers at everyone else’s lives to actually tackle the issues that they should be dealing with.

    But yes.. I completely agree with your post.

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    1. Yes. I’ve been really guilty of this too, and there are even times when I genuinely want to help someone so I talk about him or her with a close friend. But on a long enough timeline, it always turns into inappropriate speculation and condemnation. While I still think there is a place to seek advice over someone, it’s easy to tell when it’s not seeking advice but merely just seeking the thrill of spreading the latest hot news, almost like a sick voyeurism. I pray God lightning-uppercuts me if I ever do this again.

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  4. As someone who was literally banned (in writing) from a church by the pastor’s gossip and the elders re-defining gossip so that they could defend their pastor against me (!), and my wife losing her job (in that church) to her “best friend” who was one of those elders, I can verify by experience that what you say here is not only true, it is gutting-wrenching demon work! Until people who name Jesus as Saviour (but not Boss, apparently) realize that the 9th Commandment is not optional (Do not lie about your neighbour) religious Christianity will impede the work of the Spirit.
    Maybe we should start a new club – INGA (I’ll Not Gossip Anymore). While it is something I work to avoid, I’ll be glad to publicly sign on to your challenge. Add me, David, to the list.
    Peace

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    1. I’m really sorry that happened, David. I do believe there are two sides to every story, but this one seems pretty clear: your former church was unfair at best, obnoxious at worst. Your recent writing indicates you’ve been more less or less healed from this, but I still pray that God’s grace invades us to kill the gossip train. Thanks for your honesty, as always.

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      1. Your radical honesty is also to be commended. You are firm, but do not swallow “party-line” just because it is the “religiously correct” thing to do. I am enlivened by that. As for the healing, maybe we never are, but we have moved to deep sadness for them rather than centering on what happened to us – most days…

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  5. I teach two simple definitions by which to identify gossip.

    1. Talking about someone and not to them.
    2. Discussing something with someone who is not part of the problem or solution.

    Run everything that we feel should be said through those two filters. If it comes through clean, we’re probably safe.

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    1. Those are good. My first pastor preached a sermon about that with multiple filters, how each one gets more narrow, and when it’s safe to actually bring up someone you’re concerned over. I know some people who find loopholes for those too, like talking “hypothetically” or in so-called generalities (when we all know who’s being talked about). As always, it’s a heart issue.

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  6. Hi JS,
    I want to be part of NOPEW’s INGA group.
    I wrote a post on “Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing” where I placed gossip in the group with murder and child-abuse.
    thank you for blogging and being there for us.
    robin

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