My church is studying the Becoming a Contagious Christian material by Bill Hybels and Mark Mittelberg. I’ve been really pumped about this study and the potential it has for our church and people. I’m excited about our members learning to be more contagious, how to have more spiritual conversations naturally, etc. I’m excited about more non-Christians finding Christ and enjoying a relationship with him. I’m excited about these people joining churches (not necessarily ours), getting plugged in and being loved on by other Christians. It’s a whole lot of excitement!
But I have to be honest with you. There’s a part of me that is nervous to ask and bring new people to church. Again, not just my church…any church. It would be one thing if church people were absolutely perfect people that always treated everyone well. But we’re not perfect people. We’re just as messed up as everyone else. We still need God to change our lives too! Daily! And don’t get me wrong, that is all an extremely beautiful thing. That we can come together as messed up, broken, nutty people and learn from each other, serve together, experience Christ together, etc. It’s beautiful!
That all being said, one of the ways that I believe Christians are hurting the church and the influence of the church is by the way we speak to and about one another. And there are three ways I believe we do this.
We like to gossip.
Honestly, we are just as bad or worse than non-Christians about this. And we’re so used to it, that most of the time, it doesn’t phase us at all. We sit there and have no problem listening to friends who are gossiping about someone. We don’t do anything about it. It’s so bad that a lot of the time, we don’t even think it is gossip. It’s just the way we talk! And most of the time we join in! How horrible is that! I would hope that if someone is talking about me, my church friends would step up and stop it! Not let it go on! And I believe that is exactly what Christ would want us to do. For us not to be so complacent and passive when we hear others gossiping. To be bold and show courage to encourage the right kind of behavior and speech about others.
We like to complain.
Someone recently told me that the easiest way to start a conversation at church is to complain about something. How true that is! People can talk all day long about something they’re upset about! And it’s so easy to join in on these kinds of conversations! But this griping and complaining never helps things. It might make us feel better in the short run that we got to vent, but it never solves the problem. It just creates more problems. More people are now upset about things that otherwise would not have been upset because they listened to others’ complaints. It’s like a snowball that keeps rolling faster and faster and getting bigger and bigger until it is out of control and extremely dangerous.
We like to share confidential information.
Sometimes we like to cover this form of gossip up by making it into a prayer request. Sometimes we just really want to share what we know about someone. Sometimes we feel like the person we are telling the information to just really needs to hear it. But here’s the deal, it’s never OK to share confidential information. Ever! If someone has shared something in confidence, it does not need to be shared. Period. Not much more to say about this.
These ways that we speak to and about one another are dangerous for the church! Satan would love to get us all riled up about silly things and divide us any way he can so that we are not as effective. He’s really good at this! Why do we let ourselves get caught up in these petty things when there are so many bigger, better things out there for us to talk about and do?
The church is a wonderful, beautiful thing! Let’s (and I’m definitely including myself in this) be intentional about the ways we speak to and about one another! Let’s be contagious!