Reflections on trust in the church
Trust is an essential element in any organic church ministry. If a church is able to foster a climate of acceptance and love people will feel the freedom to be transparent to a certain degree in the whole group. Most people will only go so deep in a group regardless of how well they know them. The most powerful ministry happens in groups of 2 or 3. This is where trust is offered and earned.
It isn’t too profound to say that the key to earning trust is to be trustworthy. However this is not the absence of relational failings. Mistakes and failings in a relationship are often an opportunity to build trust. Being able to genuinely admit wrong doing can do a lot to bolster a relationship. Being able to forgive does the same.
I think one of the reasons why church people are so rarely different from the rest of world is that we often don’t trust one another. If we don’t trust one another we don’t make a way for others help us to become more like Christ. Often people live under an unhealthy fear of personal judgment so people hide their true selves.
The most common philosophy of ministry assumes we facilitate change in people by challenging their thinking through preaching. This way we can change their worldview and ultimately their character. This might happen in a few rare cases but for the most part it doesn’t work. There are communication issues. There are issues with the hearer that skew the message. When a person is listening in a crowd it is too easy to disregard the truth they hear. Without the relationship the message gets lost.
I don’t question the necessity of proclamation. Proclamation of truth can have a marvelous impact on people. Especially when that truth is spoken one on one in a relationship of trust where both parties know they are loved and accepted.
I wonder if there is a reason why so my programs and church ministries are designed in such a way that people don’t get an opportunity to build trust with each other. Do you ever wonder why so church people are caught in a continuous cycle of meetings where you never get the chance to truly meet someone? I have.
I think that a some church leaders don’t feel adequate to the task of getting in to the nitty gritty of people’s live so they minister at arms length through sermons, bible studies and devotionals. It is much less messy to try to change people’s minds than to tend to their wounded hearts. I don’t think this group would be the majority. I know of a lot of pastors who want to get in to the nitty gritty but are too busy doing everything else to have an opportunity to do that.
Unfortunately the church will not change if we can’t make places where we can earn one another’s trust.