5 Tips for Dealing with Gossip in the Church


And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.—Romans 1:28–29

When I see a list of the sins associated with abandoning God, I expect to see things like wickedness and murder. I don’t expect to see gossip and slander. Why? Because those they’re so commonplace—even in our churches.

Because we tend to use information as a commodity when we’re building relationships and alliances, gossip gets woven into the foundation of most human communities. The truth is that it’s a cancer that ultimately eats away at the core of a community’s security until there’s nothing left.

What makes gossip particularly nefarious is our attitude about it. We expect people to gossip, we make jokes from the pulpit about women and gossip (regardless of the fact that loose talk is no respecter of genders), and it’s this casualness that empowers and emboldens this sin.

If you’re ready to wage war on this unity killer, keep reading. I’ve put together 5 tips to help you put gossip in its place.

1. Be a model of love and solidarity

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.Ephesians 4:29

As a pastor, I struggle with gossip. In fact, I don’t think I’ve been in a church where it wasn’t an issue in leadership. Ministry’s tough and sometimes you just want someone to commiserate with.

But every time you gossip with someone, you’re modeling that behavior—and there is no sermon that will undo the bad example you’ve set.

The first step in eradicating gossip lies in showing your church what healthy communication looks like. That means you need to:

  • Share information with only those who can legitimately contribute
  • Immediately shut down gossip when you hear it
  • Protect the victims of gossip

2. Define it

Identifying what is and isn’t gossip can be difficult. When your church has a working definition of gossip, it removes the mystery. By leaving it undefined, you give people an ignorance loophole to exploit.

Here are some definitions to help you get started:

  • Rumor: any unverified information
  • Slander: false or malicious information with the intent to harm
  • Gossip: sensational talk passed on because of it’s “juicy” nature, whether true, rumor, or slander

3. Communicate its significance

It couldn’t be more clear from the verse that opens that God takes the issue of gossip very seriously. In John 17, we see Jesus praying for the church, and his number one concern was that we would be unified. (Jn. 17:22–23)

Pastors need to be champions of unity and stalwart critics of anything that would jeopardize that togetherness. This means we need to preach strongly and often about the evils of gossip.

Here are some Bible passages to use for inspiration:

  • You shall not bear a false report; do not join your hand with a wicked man to be a malicious witness.Exodus 23:1
  • If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.—James 1:26
  • Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it.—James 4:11
  • He who conceals hatred has lying lips,
    And he who spreads slander is a fool.Proverbs 10:18
  • He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets,
    But he who is trustworthy conceals a matter.Proverbs 11:13
  • A perverse man spreads strife,
    And a slanderer separates intimate friends.Proverbs 16:28
  • For lack of wood the fire goes out,
    And where there is no whisperer, contention quiets down.—Proverbs 26:20

4. Make gossip a staffing issue

Your church leadership sets a tone that the rest of the church follows. It really doesn’t matter how great anyone operates in their position if their presence undermines the church’s unity.

You need a staffing policy that elevates the significance of gossip. Not only should they be free from gossip themselves, but they also need to be equipped to shut it down when it rears its ugly head.

5. Cover gossip in your discipleship program

Gossip isn’t one of those things we just stop doing. We are set free from gossip at at the place where information and spiritual empowerment intersect.

Keeping a rein on our tongues is such an integral part of our spiritual maturity that it’s worth creating a curriculum that everyone goes through. These classes can be used in youth groups, small groups, and Sunday school classes.

The important thing is to ensure that you have a systematic plan in place to help your church members understand gossip’s significance and a safe platform to talk through its implications.

We don’t have to accept gossip!

We need to recognize that gossip is contrary to the gospel. It is love and acceptance that creates life-changing community. Whispered shame is a terrible motivator and a destructive habit. If we want to reinforce real unity, we need to work on talking up each other’s strengths and encouraging them when they’re doing well.

Jayson D. Bradley
For the last 20+ years, Jayson's been a pastor, worship leader, and church planter. Now he writes about ministry and Christian engagement. When he isn't hanging out here or writing for Overthink Group, you can find him contributing to JaysonDBradley.com.


  1. Good day, I am from Lagos Nigeria in West Africa. Thank you for the massage and advice of Dealing with Gossip in the Church. I am currently passing through a tough time in my local Church, and I am beginning to feel that hanging around my congregation will not be beneficial to me anymore. This is so dishearten because I believe my spouse and son are part of the problem.
    Sometime last year a female friend I used to know over the year moved in with her husband to my community. I was glad to see them and invited her them to meet in my family and also made them join our local church. Ever since them both family has been close. When my friend (Female) lost newly born children, I was at the hospital to see them and also did all within my person to assist them financial, all this with the knowledge of my spouse.
    Now I am surprised that my wife is confronting the lady the she is my wife and that her husband we all know, is just a cover up and the church is sort of having mixed feelings about this. I have not been called for any kind of findings or question which I will be so glad to talk about with my Pastor. Personally I feel like divorcing my wife for this embarrassment, but I will it will not change anything, because I love my wife.
    I am already 52 years old and work offshore with two weeks in the field and two weeks home. My wife is not a young woman also, she is 49years old and we have a son of 24years – trained Geologist. My son is tinting to his mother as they spend more time at home. I think I am a lone ranger in this matter.

    Kindly advice me please I will be glad to answer any question in the regards for a proper advice. The woman in the middle of this sandal is full of rage, and has not to leave the church, until the matter is settle.

  2. I have been going to the same mega church for years, I am also a member. The pastor frequently preaches the benefits odf joining a “Community Group” in such a large church – afer six years I finally did. During the first “semester” I took flowers to one of the women when she was in hospital after surgery, invited another woman who qas in an abisive relationship to come stay in my home until she could find a permanent place to live, offered another of thw women my ear two days per week as she discloaed the challenging eventa of her life, prayed for each of the women regularly and, as we approached summer offered my home for weekly fellowship to encourage the women in tje group to continue their bible study during the two months we were on break. The women got together and decided I was the most awful person, said “horrible things about me (according to one of the women who participated in the bashing session then felt guilty about it), and plotted (yes plotted) to oust me frombthe group. The head of women’s ministry was of no help when I called to discuss this unusual display of Christian behavior. Apparently my offer of fellowship during our recess was some aort of taboo but noone will tell me what I did wrong and the group leader will mot return ny calls. I honestly do mot know what I did wrong. Can someone help me understand? I am disabled (I bevame disabled 2 years ago) and have lost much and now, the group I joined to help lift me from depression, has caused me great pain; I dod not know what to do with this. I have been praying but I am still baffled.

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