Allowing the behavior of a church where they can talk ABOUT others rather than TO them can destroy that church.
I have never had much problems with saying what I'm thinking or what I believe. I guess it makes sense that I preach and teach, because I am pretty comfortable with words and giving my convictions. It is hard at times, though, to understand how others are not as comfortable with this practice as I am. Alongside my comfort with words and convictions is my comfort level with conflict. While I won't go out and seek conflict, I believe in what Jesus had to say in the beatitudes that peacemaking has to have a component of conflict in order to reach reconciliation. Again, others are not as comfortable with conflict as I am. Conflict and reconciliation aren't top on our priority lists. Power, pride, gossip, slander, avoidance seem to top the chart, whether we like it or not.
Jesus knows people. He knew in his time on Earth and still knows that we struggle to look for similarities rather than differences. He also knows that those who are leaders, especially in Christianity, are going to have difficult times when leading. He knows that suffering will come and opposition,
"I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved." -Matthew 10:16-22
Jesus knows the obstacles that come from following Him. He also knows the human condition. He encourages these followers to keep their mission regardless of the circumstances.
Jesus also knew that conflicts would arise and that we might forget how to treat each other and those conflicts. In Matthew 18 he gives us a lasting principle on how to deal with others when there is conflict.
“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector." -Matthew 18:15-17
While Jesus here is speaking of sin, error, wrong-doing, missing the mark; He is giving a context of how to deal with conflict between two parties. If you should deal with sin this way, why not choose to deal with every assumption, hurt feeling, argument, or slanderous comment the same way.
Here is the reality of church work. People don't like what the minister or pastor says or does, so they tell their friends. Then after discussing it with their friends and getting some encouragement and affirmation they then take their complaint to the "Powers" in leadership. Then the "Powers" in leadership make a choice.
1. In a healthy church they will ask the complainant "What did so and so say when you talked to them about this?"
2. In an unhealthy church they will hear the complainant and call the minister or member in to give them their consequences or put them on the defensive of a complaint made about them.
When leaders choose #1 they force the Matthew 18 principle for people to talk TO one another. When leaders choose #2 they join in conversations ABOUT someone which could become slanderous, biting, and divisive.
When you choose #2 you aren't teaching your church anything new. This is human and something innate in all of us. Choosing to help people talk TO each other will provide health in the body and most likely resolve the conflict and create Godly reconciliation.
Start practicing talking TO people and see if it doesn't restore your life and theirs and everyone else around you.