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I’ve been thinking of writing a response to one of Kurt and Josh’s articles for a LONG time…until I saw this topic: Gossip. In fact, when I told my wife what the topic was, she laughed at me! Why? Because it’s been something I’ve personally struggled with in youth ministry. So this response is me working through my own issues with this topic.

Protect the ministry…not the person.
When a person on your ministry team needs to be “invited off” (removed, fired, let go…you choose the best word) due to a moral failure or lack of leadership support, be honest with your team about WHY you had to let them go. Over the years, I have seen churches try to protect a person who sinned by not telling the whole story of why they were asked to leave and the ensuing gossip was worse than the actual truth.

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Check out the 2013 Small Group Collection from Simply Youth Ministry!
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Don’t dwell on it; just tell the truth and move on. We recently had to ask a person to leave our leadership team because they were constantly belittling other leaders. After giving her several chances to repent, I removed her from our team and openly told my team that I was not going to let ANYONE talk about them that way. Since that decision, the Lord has doubled the number of volunteers who serve our students, because they know we protect our leaders!

Simply listening validates the gossip.
It does not matter if you are a volunteer; part-time or full-time youth leader; or if you have a “Mr.,” “Pastor,” “Reverend,” or “Doctor” in front of your name: If we listen to a concern laced with gossip, we are validating the issue. Of course, some of us try to justify it by saying we want “both sides of the story,” but by simply listening to the gossip as a leader, we make the gossip more credible. Doing this has put me in more hot spots than I want to remember. That’s why we truly need to be a “Gossip-Stopper” at all costs! Watch out for those key phrases Kurt and Josh listed—they can be dangerous!

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Check out the 2013 Small Group Collection from Simply Youth Ministry!
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Of course, if all else fails, take the advice of Jon Acuff, an SYMC speaker, who talks about creating a Please Stop Gossiping Plank, and suggests using it to hit anyone who gossips…that should do the job! 

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