Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Church Whisperer and "The Everlasting Gossip Stopper"

I've been reading Heaven Help Our Church! by Brian Thorstad.  Brian calls himself the "Church Whisperer" because he serves as a "Redevelopment Interim Pastor" to help churches without pastors to grow in health before they call their next shepherd.

Heaven Help Our Church! is unique in that it is written for ordinary church members whose churches are are going through troubled times. The subtitle is "A Step by Step Survival Guide for Christians in Troubled Churches." I think that's great because most books about conflict are written for vocational leaders but miss the most important folks in the church--the normal people!

In chapter 8, "Take Careful Action," Brian writes about resisting gossip including a top 10 list of excuses that we are tempted use to get away gossiping.

And then he offers what he calls "The Everlasting Gossip-Stopper:"
Here is the “everlasting gossip-stopper.” It’s not magic, it’s just a formula that can help you to gently help your friends to not gossip. Here’s how it works: Your friend begins to gossip. You raise both of your hands to the level of your chest and move them forward slightly while saying, “Whoa,” like you’re trying to stop a horse. Then, while moving your hands back and forth – like you’re erasing a chalk board with two erasers – you say, “Wait a minute.” Then, perhaps while pointing to your gossiping friend (depending on the severity of the situation) you say, “You need to talk to _________ (name of the person being gossiped about) about that.” An option at this juncture is to point in the general vicinity of the individual being gossiped about. This should be done very gently with the young believer in Christ and much more vigorously with the veteran Christian whom you have reason to believe knows better. I’m not kidding about doing this; it really works. I train churches in doing this. Everybody laughs when we practice, but many put it into practice within a few weeks. Remember to smile, but try it. When it becomes well known in a church it can actually become the “normal” way of stopping gossip before it starts.
I really enjoyed Brian's description--including what hand motions to make!  I don't think that this is the only way to resist gossip, but I can see how, especially when done well in love, "The Everlasting Gossip-Stopper" could be really effective.

I recently corresponded with Brian and asked if I could share his E.G.S. technique on this blog, and he said, "Quote away. Tell them to they should each buy several copies, so I can go see my grandsons more often."

I think that might be some good advice.

Thanks, Church-Whisperer!