12 Ways to Build Trust with a Congregation

I’ve met many church members who no longer trust church leaders. Often that distrust is unjustified, but sometimes it’s valid. If you want to gain and grow your congregation’s trust, here are some ways to do that: 

  1. Keep your word. This one’s really simple – if you do what you say you’ll do, your folks will trust you. Even one time of not keeping your word will cost you.
  2. Listen well. People know if you’re really listening to them, or if your mind is really someplace else. Focus intently on people who are talking to you, and you’ll gain trust.
  3. Put your phone away. Similar to #2 above, this strategy means you focus on people rather than tasks. People know you’re not fully engaged when you’re always checking your phone.
  4. Be genuinely holy in speech. If your talk with filled with sexual innuendos, or if you tend to speak negatively about others, you’ll lose trust – rightly so, in my opinion.
  5. Don’t talk about yourself. It’s hard to trust someone whose job is to point to God, but who instead points to himself or herself.
  6. Rejoice publicly over victories. I trust God is doing something good in your congregation. If so, be sure to praise Him publicly. If they see God’s hand through your work, they’ll trust you more.
  7. Communicate well. Sometimes we lose trust because people hear something different than what we said or intended to say. Take the time to make sure your hearers understand properly. Trust grows when everybody’s on the same page. 
  8. Set and meet short-term goals. With every completed goal comes an increase in trust. Set some achievable goals (e.g., to train 5 leaders in evangelism), and then meet them. Invite your church to join you in rejoicing over each met goal.
  9. Admit you’re wrong when you are. Sometimes we just mess up. When you do, admit it. Defensiveness will only weaken trust, not grow it.
  10. Honor others. Most church leaders couldn’t do all they do without the help of others. Love those folks. Celebrate them. Praise them. Others will trust you more when they see your heart for them.
  11. Genuinely care for people. They’ll know it when you don’t deeply care for them. Why should they trust someone who feigns concern?
  12. Be willing to say, “I don’t know.” If you don’t know, just say so. You’ll gain trust via your honesty.

What other ways would you add to this list?

2 Comments

  • Bill Pitcher says:

    You’ve really nailed those things. A couple thoughts from here:

    Be careful what you like, share or comment on by way of social media, no matter how it strikes the funny bone, it may cause those misunderstandings you speak of.

    When there is a misunderstanding, no matter who caused it, the pastor needs to offer the olive branch and be the peacemaker.

    I really appreciate these bits of wisdom each morning. I’m an older guy (40 + years in law enforcement); but a newer pastor (about 2 years), it’s very helpful to me. Keep it up, please.

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