Trust and the Church

08 Feb
I originally titled this "trust in the church" but it read more like a command than a title. Trust can't be commanded anymore than love can be ordered. Trust is earned. It can be lost and it can be regained. Unfortunately it can be lost much quicker than it is gained. Within the church people tend to trust a little quicker than outside the church, simply because we follow Jesus and we assume that most people within the church are doing the same. But inevitably, something happens within the church, within our relationships and trust is broken. It could be something you told someone in confidence that got repeated to others, or the ministry task you asked them to help with that they simply bailed on or you saw them outside of a Sunday gathering doing or saying things that were deeply hypocritical. Of course there are many other ways trust can be broken. How do we respond when we feel trust has been broken? For many, the default response is to leave the church. It's always easier to simply walk away. But easy is rarely the best decision. In fact, easy is often the enemy of growth, both personal and spiritual.

Some have encountered trust issues not only with people in the church but also with leadership. If surveyed, most church attenders would probably cite sex and money as being the top causes for a lack of trust in church leadership. And no wonder - recent issues within the Catholic church, megachurch pastor failures and televangelist scandals of the last 3 decades prove this out. It is a challenge to trust people in the church and sometimes an even great challenge to trust those in leadership.


Trust is confidence. It’s belief in someone’s reliability.
When you hire a contractor or skilled tradesman you TRUST that they know their business and will accomplish the task for which you've hired them.
When you get your taxes done at H&R Block you TRUST that the CPA knows the tax code and can put together a good return.

When you go to an amusement park you TRUST that the ride operator and the park safety inspectors have done their job and you won't die when the coaster does a barrel roll.

In the church, sex and money, while widely reported, are not usually the reasons for loss of trust in a pastor, leader or friend. It usually comes down to two issues: Speech and Execution
Speech simply means the way we take in and either hold onto or transfer information.
Execution is defined as “the carrying out or putting into effect a plan or course of action.”
Loss of trust over speech is easy to point out. Often we never circle back and confront it. We just chose to stop confiding in a person we know has loose lips. Execution is a little more complex.
For example, someone agrees to serve on a ministry team but they don't follow through. They didn't execute. Or a leader announces a ministry initiative or plan that never actually happens. Lack of execution. While those things aren't glaring, in your face, inconsistencies, they erode trust over time.

How do we deal with a loss of trust? Whether it is speech or execution the first step has to be:

1. Make the person aware. This seems so obvious but it's incredible how many people don't realize they've misspoken, misrepresented themselves or missed a scheduled time to serve. Often, this clears up the misunderstanding within 5 minutes. Next . . .
2. Give them a chance to make it right. This is why timeliness is critical. If it's a speech issue they can readily recall the matter. If it is a ministry issue or a lack of follow through, the sooner we address it the better. There may still be time for them to partially complete the task. This doesn't work if we wait 6 months. Finally . . .
3. Be constructive in helping them earn back trust. Offer ways they can start again, perhaps with smaller responsibility or in a different ministry that better suits them. And as always, love has to guide these interactions.

Trust is essential in the church. Let's guard it well.
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