article.2013.01.16Yesterday we talked about gossip and how destructive it can be within the church culture, and devastating to those outside the church walls. So let’s fight back! The best way to stop gossip is right where it starts – with your team and with the people you influence. Here are a few things we’ve learned about how to create unity and continue the uphill battle against gossip.

People who are informed are less likely to gossip.
Oftentimes ignorance can create a breeding ground for gossip. When you keep people in the dark, sometimes their mind plays tricks on them. They read into a situation or conversation, and the lack of communication creates gaps they gladly fill with their own speculation or opinion. If you want to create a unified team, keep people in the loop! When you communicate well, you crush the early growth of gossip.

People who have great history have unity.
If you have a few key volunteers who have been with you since the beginning, you know how sweet it is to be with them, serve alongside them, and do the hard work of ministry together. You literally and figuratively have each other’s backs, and unity is your middle name. On the other hand, when you have high turnover or a collection of young, immature, or inexperienced youth workers serving with you the total opposite can happen. If you want to know the joys of a gossip-free team, work harder than ever to keep them around for a long time.

People who laugh rarely turn on each other.
We’ve noticed again and again in our years of youth ministry trench warfare that when people laugh together, they love each other more. When you are in relationship with your people – great stories, memories and inside jokes – the stronger you are together. When was the last time you spent some time just playing with your team? When was the last time you had an awards ceremony and gave out awards for everyone? Laugh together and unity quickly follows.

How have you seen unity built in your ministry?

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.

Here’s the arc for our series in HSM this month. Pretty excited about this series – we always try to hit on some felt-needs or hot topics

SEPTEMBER 15/16 | I AM… A GOSSIP (week 1)
James 3:1-12; Ephesians 4:29
GOSSIP. Everyone has said something about someone or something that they know they should not have. We’ve all felt the sting of being talked about behind our backs. It is taking a look how we talk to and about each other and how powerful what we say actually is. Looking at how we can turn gossip into encouragement and slander into praise.

SEPTEMBER 22/23 | I AM… A HYPOCRITE (week 2)
Matthew 23
Hypocrites. The dictionary definition of a hypocrite is “a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess, especially a person whose actions belie stated beliefs.” We will be looking at what this looks like in our own lives and what that means according to the teachings of Jesus.

SEPTEMBER 29/30 | I AM… A BULLY (week 3)
Bullying has no place in the life of a follower of Christ. We need to stand up for the forgotten and abused. The series will all be pulled together with a reveal that Jesus is the great I Am.


Weekend Teaching Series:  I Am __________ (series premiere, week 1 of 3)
Sermon in a Sentence: Shut up and be a gossip-stopper.

Service Length: 74 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend we kicked off our big fall series – this is a critical time of year to capture students who are starting off the year right in church and making a real effort to attend. This year we’re doing a series called I Am Blank and filling in the blank every weekend with a typical mistake/problem area/blind-spot of the Christian life. This week the message focused on gossip and it was super interesting to prepare this week being hyper-sensitive to the topic. It seemed like everywhere I went there was gossip! It made for lots of illustrations and reminders of just how much we need to stop gossip and slander it it’s tracks.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: This week we had a fun but simple game – our version of 2 Truths and a Life with students using their cell phones (and to vote on which as the lie. It was a fun game and the prize was a Twinkie Shower from the balcony – lots of fun, even though it probably isn’t wise to sugar everyone up right before you ask them to listen to the talk for 30 minutes. Lots of energy in youth group this week – KILLBALL was after the 6:30 and as always it didn’t disappoint. Although my team, the Deep V’s, came in 2nd which was frustrating.

Music Playlist: Dancing Generation, Here For You, Child of God, How He Loves, Your Love is Strong

Favorite Moment: LOVED hearing Hannah (from our team) share her story of gossip in high school – it was crucial to bring all of the points of the message together. It took a lot of strength to dig through your past and then share a big failure with a bunch of students it is a BIG deal. It was absolutely perfect and I’m so proud of her. Really made the message come to life.

Up next: I Am _____________ (week 2 of 3)

One of the responsibilities of each of us is to protect the unity of the church. At times, youth workers are put in difficult positions where we have the opportunity to listen to gossip, agree with critical spirit and add to the problems that are brewing beneath the surface of any church. Be a part of the solution, here’s what I think are some trench-tested ways to make sure

Fight gossip with praise
If you hear criticism directed at a specific person, immediately turn it around with praise. When someone identifies a weakness, speak directly to one of their strengths.

Point them back to the person it is about
Without hearing too much, you can usually see that a person’s venom is directed toward someone specific. Gently nudge or firmly direct them to the person they should be talking to, not you.

Remove the repeat offender
You will be talked about. A gossip TO you will gossip ABOUT you. People that undermine others will undermine you and unravel what you are trying to build. This is always a last-resort-tough-call-no-one-likes-to-do-it but doing it once will send a huge statement on where you stand and how seriously you take this issue.

How about you – what are some other ways to help protect the unity of the church?


This is the first week of HSM’s small groups all together at church! In recent years we’ve taken a few weeks before we split up into homes and walk students and leaders through the first few nights together. It gives us a chance to be relational with all of our leaders and to pour into and train them while we’re getting their groups off the ground.

So tonight I was walking all of our Life Group students through HSM’s small group commitment and covenant sheet. Earlier today I had a risky idea tied to it that I wasn’t sure would work … but it did! I wanted to illustrate the speed and the reach of gossip – and how it has no place in our small groups because of its destructive power. I sent a text message to a few students and leaders, and asked anyone if they got the message to forward it to a few other people who were in the room as well.

Did people look at their phones during the rest of the message? Occasionally, yes. But it was worth it. At the end of the challenge (which included a strong word to uphold confidentiality and fight the temptation to gossip) I asked how many of them got the message. A huge percentage of the group had already gotten the text! It had spread quietly and like wildfire through the room – I had no idea if the social networks of friends would extend to the whole room, but it sure did.

All it said was: “this is how fast and how far gossip spreads. :)

I hope it was a meaningful moment for everyone and a fresh take on the old game of “telephone” in the past.


I’m super excited for my friend Neely McQueen’s new book, 99 Things Every Girl Should Know, which comes out this week from Group Publishing. You may already read her blog about girl’s ministry at and she will be a guest on tomorrow’s live SYM Podcast undoubtedly talking about her new book. Here’s a little more info on the book and the table of contents:

In her book 99 Things Every Girl Should Know, veteran youth worker Neely McQueen shares a wealth of wisdom on becoming and being a girl who knows that she is valuable, meaningful, and loved. That isn’t the message many girls receive from our culture. We live in a world that says we’re only valuable, meaningful, and loved if we look a certain way, dress a certain way, and behave a certain way. God has a different opinion.

With a little help from her friends, Neely shares thoughts that would have helped her better survive the teenage years. These pages are filled with encouragement, inspiration, and insights that will help the girls in your youth ministry–or other girls in your life–explore their beauty, their worth, and their world.

Table of Contents

  • Being BFFs
  • Shh…It’s a Secret
  • Boys, Boys & More Boys
  • Let’s Talk About Sex–and Pregnancy
  • All in the Family
  • Seasons of Being a Girl
  • The Good News About School
  • Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, What’s the Truth About Beauty?
  • The Clothes We Wear
  • TV, Magazines, and Movies…Oh My!
  • Surviving the Digital World
  • Tweets From Friends
  • Hot Topics
  • The War Between Shopping and Saving
  • Just Plain Random
  • The Best Boyfriend Ever
  • Old-School Ladies
  • Women of the World
  • Why Being a Girl Rules
  • One More Thing…