Creating a Unified Team by Kurt Johnston & Josh Griffin
Written for Youth Groups, but it applies!!
Gossip is destructive, 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.
A Response by Paul Spittka
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. 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!