Central Baptist Church of Southington Connecticut


Don't Believe Everything You Hear

  • Jim Townsley
  • Aug 17, 2008

As the pastor of a church, it is only natural that many people want to keep you informed of news that might seem pertinent to the ministry. There is always the potential to be given information that is incorrect or only partially true. Therefore it is extremely important to verify information before concluding that all information you receive is accurate. Human nature, as it is, will cause people to transfer information without recognizing the importance of privacy in certain matters.When a member comes to you with information that could be damaging to another, it is important that you verify the information quickly before rumors can develop. Usually the best way to verify information is to go right to the source of the accusations. When someone reports information to you, ask them if you can use their name as a source of the comments. Failure to verify information can cause undue church problems and divisions in the church.

An important principle to follow is: If you are not a part of the problem or a part of the solution, you should not be a part of the conversation. If it doesn't really involve you, you should resist the temptation to get involved. Pray for those involved, but do not even listen to a discussion about a problem that has nothing to do with you. On the other hand, if a problem exists and is not biblically and lovingly dealt with, it could fester and explode causing additional harm to the church. Dealing with it sooner than later will spare you untold problems.

Here is how gossip works: A man or a woman comes to the pastor or his wife and says, "Did you hear about sister Johnson? No, I haven't heard about her. Well, she said she didn't like the standards the pastor set in the church. Really? Yes, and she further said she would never follow his leadership." In this scenario it would be easy to believe such a statement, but how do you, as the pastor, know that the statement is true? You don't know if it is true. The only way you can know the truth is to approach sister Johnson and ask her if such a thing was said. Upon asking sister Johnson to explain, you discover that sister Smith who reported to you that sister Johnson made accusations about the pastor when in fact it was sister Smith who made the accusations. After confronting the two together it becomes apparent that sister Smith did in fact report false information. It is important that you understand that a similar scenario will develop scores of times within a church family and the pastor and his wife must learn how to properly deal with such harmful behavior.

You will find that some people are not good at keeping information in confidence and the devil will use them to stir up trouble. It is especially important for the pastor and his entire family to be accurate in reporting information and only to make information public that should be given publicly. Private information should be kept private.

There are other key leaders in the church that must learn to keep information private. The men who count the money from the offerings could cause great harm by sharing information about a person's giving habits. A person who gives a lot of money could become a target from moochers. A person who doesn't give much money could be perceived as hypocritical and fall in disfavor within the church. Either way, people's giving generally should remain anonymous.

In addition, the church secretary will learn of sensitive information that could be damaging if it was widely known. What if a family is having marital struggles and sets up an appointment with the pastor. If it is learned that the Jones' are having marital problems they may become too embarrassed to continue attending the services if their problems are widely known. It is assumed that counseling and appointments by the pastor are done with privacy.

Deacons and their wives are equally accountable to speak truthfully and to keep in confidence private matters. Sensitive information discussed by the pastor and deacons must be kept private. No believer is perfect and their private struggles do not need to be known by the whole church. In fact, deacons should be conscious of others who may not speak accurately in order to quell any and all misinformation. Deacons or their wives should never be a part of gossip, rather they should constantly endeavor to protect the church from gossip. In addition, deacons need not tell their wives every private matter discussed in the deacon's meetings. There are some things that would not be prudent to speak of to their wife or family and that are best left in confidence with the pastor and deacons.

The pastor, the staff, the deacons, and the leaders, along with their wives, should maintain a spirit of encouragement and a positive attitude. This attitude must begin with the pastor and he must exemplify this attitude as well as teach the people of the church to do the same. It is always easy to have a critical spirit and spread gossip, but encouraging words are always purposeful and Spirit-filled.

"It is one thing to utter a certain amount of true sentiment, and quite another to be the living channel of communication between the very heart of God and the souls of God's people." - C. H. Mackintosh