Gossip cannot only ruin relationships, it can wreck a church, so here’s a simple solution on how to stop the gossip in your church.
One of the greatest dangers in churches today is a hidden danger, and that danger is gossip. For example, something as simple as a prayer request might end up becoming a juicy piece of gossip that travels throughout the congregation, and even outside of the church, so we should remember that Jesus is the Head of the Church, and we are the Body of Christ. When one member attacks another, and that includes gossip, then it’s the same thing as persecuting Jesus Christ Himself. Gossip is sin, and to gossip about a brother or sister who is asking for prayer is even worse. In fact, it’s one of the things God hates the most (Prov 6:16-19). If it hurts the Body of Christ, it hurts Christ. On the Damascus Road, Jesus asked Saul, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me” (Acts 9:4). Now wait a second. Saul had been persecuting the Christians and not Jesus, right, so Saul asks, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:5). When Saul was persecuting believers who are the Body of Christ, he was actually persecuting Jesus Himself since He is the Head of the Body. As the Head, He feels the Body’s pain, just like we’d feel pain in our members. Gossip hurts others…and it hurts Jesus. That’s the hidden danger of having a prayer chain. It can quickly turn into a gossip-chain. Maybe that’s why many who request prayer say them as an “unspoken need.” I can’t blame them. Besides, God knows their need and that’s all that matters, so how does gossip hurt the church? The Bible is clear on this.
Here’s a great rule to live by. Before you say anything at all, ask yourself, “Is it true, is it kind, and is it helpful?” If it’s true, but not kind, don’t say it. If it’s helpful but not kind, don’t say it. If it’s not all three, don’t say anything at all. Scripture warns us that “A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends” (Prov 16:28). What will break up a friendship quicker than anything? Gossip! I can’t think of anything that will drive a wedge between Christian brothers or sisters quicker than spreading gossip. The Proverbs say, “Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered” (Prov 11:13). When we reveal secrets about others like from their prayer requests that they want to keep private, we betray their trust. Every prayer request should be treated with trust and confidence. The “trustworthy” person will keep it zipped. The Apostle Paul said that some were “going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not” (1Tim 5:13). Not only do some spread gossip, they go “from house to house” to do it! This may be by means of phone calls, emails, Facebook, text, Instagram, or even Bible studies. Paul’s point is that people were “saying what they should not.”
Want a great way to stop gossip in its tracks? More than that, don’t you want to stop the gossiper and make them think twice before gossiping again? I do. Here’s how:
Gossiper: “Hey, did you hear about Iris? Her daughter’s living with her boyfriend, and they’re not even married.”
Listener: “Really? Hey, there’s Iris over there. Let’s go talk to her and ask her if we can pray for her and her daughter about this. Let’s go…”
If someone shares something with you about another person, and they’re nearby, tell the gossiper, “Why don’t we go right over to that person right now and ask them about it.” Most of the time, the gossiper is not willing to go over and confront the person that they’ve been talking (gossiping) about. They’d be ashamed to, and they should be! If the person they’re gossiping about is not there, you can tell the gossiper that you’ll share this with the person when they see them and tell them, “So and so told me about your problem and….”
You can also ask the gossiper, “Who told you this?” If they name the person, tell them you plan to talk to the person about it and tell them it’s something they heard from another person (the gossiper). If they’re unwilling to say just who said this, still tell them that you’re going to speak to the person being gossiped about and tell them what they (the gossiper said). Most people won’t want you mentioning their name. When a person spreads a rumor or gossip about someone else, they must be confronted, but in love. It’s up to us stop the gossip dead in its tracks. When I offer to have the person come with me to talk with the person being spoken about, this offer has always been refused, so the best way to stop gossip is to confront the gossiper, ask if they’re willing to take this issue up with the person they gossiped about, or to ask who the source was, and then go to that source. Truly the one who “does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless” (James 1:26).
I think the less we say about others, the better, unless it is something that is encouraging or uplifting, because “Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble” (Prov 21:23). Jesus warned us that “on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak” (Matt 12:36). Imagine that! God will hold us accountable for every single word we utter, so He warns us that “Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly I will destroy. Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not endure” (Psalm 101:5). Gossip hurts the Body of Christ. It hurts Christ. It divides the Body, it slanders people’s good name, it produces strife in the church and between people, it separates friends, it destroys relationships, and it is sin before God. May it never be so in the church Jesus Christ built, so “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Eph 4:29).
Gossip hurts everyone, even the one who spreads it, and how would you feel if you knew people were gossiping about you? You’d be angry, right? They might not have all the facts. They might not know all the circumstances. And they might be dead wrong. If gossiping about you makes you mad, imagine how God feels about it? He has every right to be anger about it. Let’s stop the gossip at the source; rebuke the whispering tongue. Stop gossip in its tracks before it can do anymore damage.
Here is some related reading for you: Bible Verses About Gossip: 15 Helpful Quotes 
Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.