Gossip Line Number 9
Heh! Gossip line number 9, my personal name for the prayer chain. I know it's important to be up on what is happening in the lives of people, but this is one of the most tiresome things going.
Sometimes I think it must be a culture thing, so deeply rooted that gallons of spiritual "Roundup" cannot begin to exterminate it's insidious grip on the church. If I make an observation that a little discretion would be nice or that there is entirely too much detail in a prayer request there are those who become more determined than ever to continue this poor practice. They simply take it underground, leaving me out of the loop formally, though it eventually gets around. Culprits are not embarrassed when caught and are in fact indignant if told what is being said is gossip. A few years ago one parishoner went so far as to say "pastor doesn't believe prayer is important."
Here is the one that got my juices flowing this time:
"The ____________ Family --- Neighbors of ______&_______. The husband and father of the family has become very violent--a very angry man! Pray for the safety of the wife and children. Pray that he will seek help. Pray for their salvation."
No doubt the family mentioned above will be blessed to know someone cares about them. Not to mention how joyful they will be that their neighbor is sharing in such eloquent detail. So here we go again. We'll discuss the nature of prayer requests for about the 1000th time. Sheesh!
This is why I have my own pet name for the prayer chain. It may not seem like a nice thing to refer to it as "Gossip Line Number 9" but that seems most fitting to me. It is a chain all right, binding people in a never-ending cycle of elation at being in the know, and despair when they are the subject. It makes me feel sick.
The expert line on churches is that they become a reflection of their leader, that they eventually take on something of his/her character. Sorry, I have no problem taking blame when appropriate, but I'm not taking credit for this.
The one who reveals secrets is a constant gossip; avoid someone with a big mouth. Proverbs 20:19