When problems arise at a congregation, it is not always the problems themselves that do the damage, but how each member deals with the alleged problems. For example, Sister Chatter tells Brother Gossip that she saw Bill, a church deacon, pulled over beside a beer joint helping a young mother change her flat tire. As Brother Gossip hears the story he is so gossipy that all he hears is that a church deacon was seen at the beer joint with a young mother. After the twisted story leaves the venomous lips of Brother Gossip, goes through the demented mind of Sister Busybody, then the story comes out like this. Have you heard that Brother Bill, who has always been a faithful deacon, has now left the church and is seen at the beer joint regularly with one of the young mothers from our congregation? Such exaggerated stories like this should leave us with mixed emotions. They make us want to laugh because they are so far fetched and distorted. Yet, at the same time, they make us want to cry because we all know rumors like this one have done horrendous harm to the church of the Lord. What then should the Christian do when he hears about church problems?
1. Consider the source. Is the person who is telling me this biased toward a certain group or view? Is this person known for being a gossip and spreading rumors? Was this person actually there or did they get the information second-hand?
2. Remember, there are always two sides to a story. Every story, no matter how good, bad or ugly, has two sides. Before believing a rumor that you hear, make sure you get both sides of the story. This is especially important as it relates to religious and biblical matters. Be sure and find out if there are any biblical principles in the story that you have not been told. A lot of times when you explore both sides of the story you see things that some would rather you not know.
3. If you have questions, ask the elders. When problems arise and you hear something someone said, before believing it, talk to the spiritual leaders of the congregation about it. They are the ones who lead and watch out for our souls (Heb. 13:17). And, more times than not, they are at the forefront and know both sides of the story. May all of us remember that more harm can be done after the problems arise than during the problems themselves if we do not deal with them correctly.
Written by Ben Bailey