Building Pastoral Trust

I’m attaching a link at the bottom of the page to an article I read about pastoral trust in America.  It’s not stellar.  You can read the article for yourself, but let me suggest some simple ways to build and keep trust with your congregation and community …

Love the people well.  How simple is that?  When you show genuine care to your church family and to others in the larger community with whom you cross paths, your trust meter goes up.  Caring well begins with taking interest in people and their needs.  Authentic caring builds trust.  If people in your church wonder, “Does my pastor love me?” you will lose trust in a hurry.

Be a servant.  If you do the very things you ask others to do, you will earn their trust.  If putting up tables and chairs is beneath you, if giving a Saturday away to serve a church family or a church initiative is asking to much, if you expect or ask for perks just because you’re the pastor, say goodbye to trust.

Be the same person all the time.  If you are not the same person in a committee meeting, in a church hallway, in a counseling session, at the ballgame, on the golf course or a basketball court, as you are in the pulpit, people will not trust you.  They won’t trust you because they don’t know which person is the real you.  Be the same person in the everywhere else as you are in the pulpit.

Keep confidence.  It probably only takes one divulging of a confidence in a sermon or a conversation to ruin your trust quotient among your congregation.  People’s secrets should be safe with a pastor.  I will go to my grave with the secrets people have trusted me with across four decades of ministry.

Put in an honest day’s work for your pay.  If you whine about how much you have to work, if you insist on your day off never being compromised by some urgent need in the church family, if you show up late to work, go home early, preach other people’s sermons, take two hour lunches, insist on being home every night, if you are more concerned about compensatory time than getting the job done, people will be slow to trust you.  Otherwise, they will ask questions: Does he want the job or not?  Is he all in or not?  Is he getting his job done?

Keep your word.  If you say you’ll be somewhere, be there.  If you agree to serve in a certain way, serve in that way.  If you make an appointment, keep it and be on time.  Failure to do simple things like this destroy trust level in a congregation.

Practice what you preach.  Don’t ask people to tithe if you’re not a tither.  Don’t ask people to share Christ if you’re not sharing Christ.  Don’t ask people to sacrifice personal time if you’re not willing to do it.  Don’t ask people to love their wives and children well if you’re not tending to your own family.  What we do is so loud, people won’t hear what we say—they won’t trust what we say.  Practice what you preach.  Nobody’s perfect here but we should strive to keep preaching and practice in as much sync as possible.

Admit when you’re wrong.  This is a sign of humility, and people are more prone to trust humble people.  Why is that so hard for some pastors to admit they made a mistake?  If you screw up (and you will screw up from time to time), own it, confess it, and move forward.  Most people in the church don’t expect you to be perfect, but they really don’t like it when you pretend to be.  And they won’t trust you either.

There you have it.  What would you add?  Work to build trust with your congregation.  If people don’t trust you, they will doubt your preaching, your word, your counsel, and your commitment.  If you don’t have trust, you don’t have a ministry.

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