Gossip can destroy a church. It is in fact an act of the flesh. Gal 5: leading to divisions and factions.
A gossip betrays a confidence (Prov 11:13) and separates close friends (16:28) and causes quarrels to continue (26:20). Proverbs also denotes that there is a certain pleasure in gossiping (18:8, 26:2). It is a fruit of sinful man (Romans 1:29) and goes along with a whole fruit of other sins like quarreling, jealousy, anger, factions, and slander (2 Cor 12:20). While not limited to women, it seems a special area of temptation for women (1 Tim 5:13).
What is gossip? Gossip in short is talking about a person to another person who is neither part of the problem nor part of the solution. Talking about others in a disapproving or malicious way. Gossip can destroy a church. The planting of evil thoughts is the exact of opposite of biblical peacemaking. Rather than going to the one with whom there is the conflict or accepting shortcomings in another, a person talks about these issues with another person. Thus, by gossiping they become faultfinders and grumblers (Jude 16) rather than building up the body or building up the person.
How is a church to handle gossip?
1. By giving clear definitions. Talking to a person who is not part of the problem or part of the solution.
2. By refusing to participate.
3. By exposing it. That is by stating that, if we hear gossip, then we know we are hearing a problem. If we are hearing a problem then the person speaking needs to go to the person they are talking about. If they refuse, then the third party needs to take this seriously enough to talk to a spiritual authority. That brings us back to our definition. Talking with someone who is not part of the problem or part of the solution. Spiritual authorities are given to be part of the solution. But they cannot be part of the solution if they do not know of the issues.
Certain ones are able to operate in their sin by flying under the radar and invoking an angry response to any revelation of their activities. The sensitive ones will give into the secretive one for fear of gossipping. Thus the secretive one is able to control the situation.
But biblical confidentiality is never absolute confidentiality. In fact there are certain times we are commanded to go and tell a third party of the sin we know about. Modern Christians might be surprised to learn that Jesus commands us to “gossip.”
But that must bring us to a biblical definition of gossip. Sinful gossip is talking to person B about person A’s problem when person B has no authority to deal or training to handle the problem. But it is NOT sinful gossip to talk with a person who has authority to help with a problem. In other words, absolute secrecy is never promised. There are people who have the spiritual authority to help out. And it is wrong to let the person with secret sin control the situation.
Bottom line. If you know of sin and the person will not listen to you, you can go and tell it to a person with authority. That is not gossip. That is obedience.