“I’m Allergic to Gossip but Twinned with Prayer”

Posted: December 15th, 2022

Let me tell you a story.

Shortly after the new pastor arrived at the church, he was forced to make a statement to the congregation. Since his arrival, he had been approached a few times by some members who, he felt, were attempting to ingratiate themselves with him. They were attempting to draw him into their confidence by telling him about other members of the church. So, he decided to nip it in the bud with a statement on Sabbath morning.

Without reference to what had been taking place, he told the congregation, “I have a serious allergy and I’m hoping it will be contagious. It is this, I’m allergic to gossip, but twinned with prayer. If you come to me with gossip, be sure that I’ll immediately tell you about my allergy. However, be sure that I’m twinned with prayer, so if you want to pray, please come to me. I always welcome prayer.”

The story ends with the pastor having the congregation regularly repeating, “I’m allergic to gossip but twinned with prayer”.

When we consider, in Romans chapter 1:29 forwards, Paul lists gossip and slander among sinful acts such as depravity, murder, hatred for God, and the invention of evil, we see the wisdom of the pastor.

If the church is so offended by so-called sins of the flesh, shouldn’t it be even more horrified by gossip? When we consider that gossip has the power to destroy friendships and reputations and cause deep-lasting soul-destroying pain, why do we tolerate it as if it is harmless or non-existent?

We speak about the need for us to be far more loving than we are now but do not address the insidious damage gossiping wreaks on a congregation. It causes division, alienates people from attending worship, and greatly weakens our potential to reach new converts.

While we should expect our leaders to treat matters of gossip with the severity it deserves, we should not leave it to them. Gossip will only occur in a congregation when you and I allow it. It only gains a foothold and strengthens when we listen to it and, by doing so, encourages the gossiper to do more damage. It becomes especially destructive when, after hearing it, we then share it with someone else. The power to eradicate it is in your hand and in mine. It’s up to us, not our leaders. We are the gossipers and the listeners.

If we are to create the welcoming, loving, and safe congregations we want, maybe it’s time for us to adopt the sentiments of the pastor’s expression. When others come to share gossip, let’s immediately say, “I’m allergic to gossip but twinned with prayer”.