I am sitting in my hotel room in Louisville after a long day in board meetings with the Kentucky Baptist Convention. It was an exciting day of planning and coordinating as we look at what God has been doing and is doing across our state in the life of Kentucky Baptists. There is a growing desire to see a move of God in Eastern Kentucky with upcoming events such as "Hope for the Mountains." That desire grows from leaders within our Kentucky Baptist Convention who have partnered with those who have a heart for proclaiming the Gospel in that region. In fact, the buzz words that I hear frequently in Baptist life today is "Gospel Conversations." As we have discussion about training our church congregations in sharing the Gospel, it occurred to me the challenge we have before us in our churches. Because of our sinful nature, none of us need to attend a seminar on how to have "Gossip Conversations." Because it is our sinful nature, this is where people will naturally drift. In contrast, we must be intentional and offer training on how to have "Gospel Conversations." Unfortunately, many pastors are overwhelmed with putting out fires from "Gossip Conversations" that they will have less time to devote to training, equipping, and actually having "Gospel Conversations." The thought occurred to me... if we spent half of the effort into sharing the Gospel as we put into sharing gossip, we could win a community to Christ!
One of our KBC leaders shared an illustration that we naturally drift away from evangelism. He explained that if a pastor doesn't make a hospital visit that people will complain. He gave several examples of things that church members would complain about if the pastor does not do them (I could have offered a few more examples). However, no one complains if we don't knock on doors to share the Gospel. While there are a few in our church that would rather have Gossip Conversations over Gospel Conversations, I believe there are many more who are eager to covenant together for the sake of the Gospel and make Jesus the central focus of our conversations. Let's speak words of life, not words of destruction.
What were your conversations like today? Let's have Gospel Conversations NOT Gossip Conversations.
Below is a resource for your personal worship...
Sing or listen to the hymn "Wonderful Words of Life." I am praying wonderful words of life over my church family.
Sing them over again to me, wonderful words of life;
Let me more of their beauty see, wonderful words of life.
Words of life and beauty, teach me faith and duty:
Beautiful words, wonderful words, wonderful words of life.
Beautiful words, wonderful words, wonderful words of life.
Christ, the blessed One, gives to all, wonderful words of life;
Sinner, list to the loving call, wonderful words of life.
All so freely given, wooing us to heaven:
Sweetly echo the Gospel call, wonderful words of life;
Offer pardon and peace to all, wonderful words of life.
Jesus, only Savior, sanctify forever:
CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE SONG.
I recently came home from work to discover that my trash bin at the curb had fallen over, dogs had ripped open the bags, and now trash had scattered over my neighbor's yard. I quickly picked up the can and grabbed a new bag to collect the garbage. It was a frustrating few moments. Even a bit embarrassing. I began to consider something worse than the garbage being scattered over my neighbor's yard, people who spread garbage in our community. I'm not talking about physical garbage, but the garbage of rumor, slander, and gossip. Let's define each of these terms and then address them from a biblical point of view...
Rumor: Unverified information that is circulating.
Slander: False, malicious, or unverified information that causes harm to a person's character or reputation.
Gossip: Unconstrained conversation that often involves rumor, slander, or both.
Romans 1:29 cautions against gossip and lists it among murder! "They are filled with all unrighteousness, evil, greed, and wickedness. They are full of envy, murder, quarrels, deceit, and malice. They are gossips."
How do we handle gossip? It will eventually come to your door. I'm afraid that many people have become garbage dumps. The reason we take our garbage to the dump and not our neighbors yard is because the dump accepts it, our neighbors do not! People who have become "garbage dumps" provide a listening ear to the gossip, but justify their behavior by not allowing it to continue. Yet, time and again, they welcome the garbage. People keep showing up with more garbage and it's accepted. We need Christians who will stop being a garbage dump for gossip. Don't accept it! When you listen to the gossip, even if you don't spread it, you have become a dump.
Some have become a garbage truck. Have you ever been driving behind a garbage truck and most of the trash stays in the truck, but some of it is flying out? Some people not only gather the garbage of others, they have no regard to where it flies. They have unconstrained lips!
How do we avoid being a garbage dump or a garbage truck?
Ephesians 4:29, "Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers."
1. Shut down gossip when you hear it. You don't want to become a garbage dump. The Bible teaches, "For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, contention quiets down" (Prov. 26:20).
2. Protect the victims of gossip. Gossip always wounds people. Unconstrained conversation damages relationships. "He who spreads slander is a fool" (Prov. 10:18).
3. Don't be guilty of spreading the garbage. Gossip actually causes us to lose focus of our mission and creates disunity. The Bible says, "A perverse man spreads strife, and a slanderer separates intimate friends (Prov. 16:28).
Ultimately, GOSSIP is contrary to the GOSPEL. If you want authentic unity in a church, then we need to work harder on spreading the GOSPEL.
Many of us are familiar with Henry W. Longfellow’s words in his poem entitled, “Paul Revere’s Ride.” It was the signal orchestrated by Revere at the brink of the American Revolutionary War. This secret signal’s purpose was to warn the patriots of which route to anticipate the arrival of British troops.
Where could these lanterns be seen by everyone, but yet remain undetected? A common architectural feature of churches is the Lantern Tower. The Old North Church in Boston had just such a feature.
Churches with a lantern tower often have a floor plan that resembles a cross (called "cruciform"). The lantern tower is positioned at the junction where each branch comes together. The lantern tower of First Baptist Church Mount Sterling is separate from the steeple and rests above the church’s lobby (precisely at the intersection of the cross floor plan).
The purpose of the lantern tower is two-fold. First, it allows light into the building. It is a symbolic picture of emphasizing the importance of the cross by “shining light on the cross.” Second, the lantern tower shines light into the community, a symbolic picture of the church’s role in “shining the light of Christ” into a dark world.
Architecture has always been important to me. I appreciate the great symbolism that architects incorporate into their designs. However, I must continually remind myself that the “function” of the church is more important than the “form” of the church. May the symbols be reminders of our purpose. We must never think that the lantern tower can replace our responsibility to illuminate the cross in our own lives. Furthermore, we must never think that the lantern tower can replace our duty to spread the light of the Gospel into our community. If given a choice between maintaining a “lantern tower” or equipping people to be light in our community, may we always choose the authentic over the symbolic.
Dr. Chris Dortch has been in vocational ministry since 1993. His blog is aimed to "equip the saints for the work of ministry."