We all encounter gossip of some kind on a daily basis, yet most followers of Christ have received very little training on how to deal with it. Matt Mitchell, author of Resisting Gossip, is actively trying to change that. He recently released the audiobook version for the 6-year print anniversary and is still passionately trying to change the way the church thinks about it and handles it.
Gossip. It has disrupted lives, destroyed relationships, ruined friendships, and wrecked churches. What can we, as Christians, do to avoid gossip? Matt Mitchell, pastor of Lanse Evangelical Free Church in central Pennsylvania, shares some of his insights on this problem from his best-selling book released by CLC Publications, Resisting Gossip, which is now available in audiobook format!
Why should people read (or now listen to!) this book?
To learn how to win the war of the wagging tongue! I wrote it for Christians who wanted to defeat this sin in their personal lives. I don’t spend a lot of time in the book trying to convince folks that gossip is bad–most of us would already agree with that. Instead, I try to help followers of Christ who desire to live a God-pleasing life but feel stuck and stymied by both the attractiveness of gossip and the confusion that surrounds the problem. I set out to (1) clarify what is and what isn’t gossip and (2) give confidence to ordinary Christians that they do have the resources in Christ to withstand this temptation. There is are also a couple of chapters about what to do when you’re the target of gossip and a bonus chapter for church leaders to help cultivate a gossip-resistant culture in your fellowship.
I’m excited that Resisting Gossip is now available in an audio format! It was fun to read it on tape, and I’m looking forward to hearing how the Lord uses it in people’s lives.
What do people “gain” from gossip that encourages them to continue to do it?
Great question! It really gets at the heart of the problem which is the problem of the heart. Our sinful hearts love to gather and spread gossip for a whole host of icky reasons. For some, it’s a feeling of superiority; for others, it’s just plain revenge. I often find myself gossiping because I like to be seen as someone “in the know.” In chapter 3 of Resisting Gossip, I present a rogue’s gallery of five different kinds of gossiping people–the spy, the grumbler, the backstabber, the chameleon, and the busybody–and then suggest at least 5 different things that the Bible indicates those kind of people might gain from indulging in sinful gossip. And that’s really just scratching the surface. The good news is that there are biblical alternatives for all of them that are actually more satisfying. We just have to remind ourselves of the treasures of the gospel.
Do you believe that gossip in churches has decreased? Why or why not?
Because of my book? I’d like to think so, but I don’t have any delusions. Gossip is a global problem that will be with us until the return of Christ. I hope that those people who have read Resisting Gossip are more prone to recognize it when it’s coming at them or when they are tempted to do it themselves. And as they mature in Christ, I hope that they are increasingly able to say, “No.” I also hope that churches that have studied the book together have an increased commitment to unity, honoring one another, and godly speech. But I doubt that it’s getting any easier. Culture has made it worse, especially with the negative effects of social media. Now is not the time to drop our guard but to stay on our toes, vigilant in this war of the wagging tongue.
What we can do daily to eliminate the urge to gossip?
Commune with Christ. Walking with the Lord in faith is the greatest protection we have against any temptation, including this one. As we abide in Jesus, we will bear much fruit (John 15:1-8). That means personal prayer, of course, both at specific times and on “speakerphone” all day long. One key prayer I use is Psalm 141:3, “Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Communion with Christ also means Bible intake–incorporating the truth of Scripture in your mind and heart, storing it up for the Spirit to apply at the needful moments. When my heart is full of good stuff like that, I’m much less prone to turn to the icky candy of sinful gossip. The other daily practice I’d recommend is simply reminding yourself that you are called to live a life of love (Ephesians 5:1-2). Gossip is anti-love, so whatever I can do to turn my focus away from pleasing myself and onto the needs of others will redirect both my ears and my tongue.
Resisting Gossip is now an audiobook available narrated by the author.
If you want to learn more, please check all the different resources that we have available on Resisting Gossip.
About Resisting Gossip
It’s on Facebook, on the television, in the break room, and even in our churches. With gossip being so prevalent in our culture, it can be hard to resist listening to and sharing stories about other people’s business. But what does God say about gossip? And is it possible to follow his instructions? In Resisting Gossip Pastor Matt Mitchell not only outlines the scriptural warnings against gossip, but also demonstrates how the truth of the gospel can deliver believers from this temptation.
About Matt Mitchell
Matt Mitchell is a graduate from Moody Bible Institute and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. In 2012, he received his Doctor of Ministry degree from Westminster Theological Seminary in biblical counseling under the leadership of the faculty of the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF). His doctoral project included writing his first book – Resisting Gossip.
He is active in his association of churches, the EFCA, serving the awesome Allegheny District as the chairman of the Constitutions and Credentials Board, and as the book review coordinator for EFCA Today. His greatest joy in serving Jesus is passionately communicating scriptural truth and seeing lives changed.
Matt Mitchell has been the pastor of Lanse Evangelical Free Church, a 120+year-old church parked along Interstate 80, since he was a rookie pastor in 1998. He is Heather’s hubby, and Daddy to Robin, Andrew, Peter, and Isaac. They live in the woods of Central Pennsylvania with a flock of free range chickens. They do the “homeschool adventure” thing, cut firewood for their outdoor furnace, love to read great books together, and go for long hikes as a family.