These people give credence to every rumor, story, or criticism that springs up around them. It does not make a difference if it's true or not because the trust relationship is automatically developed between listener and hearer. The hearer of the gossip automatically trusts that what the person saying is true because they are their friends, or they don't care if it's true because they feel no responsibility for its truthfulness since they did not start it in the first place. But in God's eyes it's all the same if you started it or if you spread it; the sin, the damage, and the result are the same. The result is that someone is hurt or driven away because of slander.
The result of this gossip being spread and not adequately dealt with, especially by the pastor, created an atmosphere of distrust. Once the leadership of the church is causing discontent, not only are they missing the mark that Christ has for us, but they create such an untrusting atmosphere that the true believers cannot confide with counseling matters, nor do they mature adequately. This is a lesson for all of us; we all have skills and issues that we all need to work on with our spiritual walk with the Lord. I do not believe we as Christians will ever reach full perfection, nor does God call us to be totally perfect. But what God does call us is to be is our best. And when we refuse to grow, and we keep making the same mistakes over and over again all that we're doing is hurting Christ, His people, and ourselves.
The Bible gives us clear direction on how we are to keep our mouths in His direction, that is God's direction not ourselves. Proverbs gives us many verses that shows our human weakness and fallen state that seeks out the destruction of each other instead of building each other up as God desires us to do.
"A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered. Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue… without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down."Proverbs 17:27-28; 26:20
The Bible is directing us to restrain our speech and a wise person controls their tongue, what we say and how we say it. The Bible goes on to say that people that spread gossip have malicious intentions as much as the people who start the gossip in the first place. This malice leads to destruction of property and persons, just as bad as a fire would destroy a home or even a church.
Not too long ago the president of United States made a statement that he remembered, as a child, the destruction and hurt that he felt and saw as black churches were being burned in his home state. Whether or not this was a true statement, because many sources off the Internet state that no black churches were burned in this President's state while he was growing up; nevertheless, the destruction caused by a church burning down is not as great as a spread of gossip torpedoes. Because when the churches that burned down, in my observations, the people come together and rebuild it and become stronger as a community. When the church is burned down by gossip running amok, the church is completely destroyed, only the building survives.
The important lesson we must learn is the church is not a building, but the people of God who just use the building to meet in. Too many churches think the building is the most important thing of God, and miss the point of what it is for and of its use.
© Rev. R.J. Krejcir 1998, 2001, Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development www.churchleadership.org