9 Specific Reasons People Don’t Trust Pastors

If you read this blog regularly, you know my love for pastors. I am a pastor, and I have great respect for those who lead God’s church. At the same time, my consulting work and my speaking schedule have given me opportunities to speak with people who no longer trust pastors. I’ve previously written about general reasons that folks lose trust in pastors, but I’m adding today some specific reasons I’ve heard more than once. I’m afraid that many people unfairly characterize all pastors based on only one or two examples; nevertheless, here are some of the more specific reasons they’ve lost their trust:

  1. A pastor lied to them. It takes only one pastor to commit this sin before a believer struggles to trust any pastor. One lie leaves deep scars.
  2. They’ve known pastors who lived one way in the pulpit but another way outside it. Hypocrisy usually leads to distrust – and future pastors have to “earn” their credibility before church members trust them. 
  3. Some pastor hurt a family member. The emotional connection with family usually magnifies our anger when somebody we love is hurt. That kind of anger is difficult to get over.
  4. They heard a pastor talk in off-color ways. Sometimes, this problem occurred in the pulpit. More often, though, it was a “behind the scenes” conversation that depleted any trust.
  5. They loved a short-term pastor who said to them, “I’m here for the long haul” even while he was talking with another church. This issue, of course, goes back to #1 above.
  6. Some pastor dealt suspiciously with money. Perhaps nothing was ever proven, but enough concerns were raised that distrust set in. Money has a way of creating leadership turmoil.
  7. They discovered the pastor’s sermons online—and with someone else first delivering them. Pulpit plagiarism is growing, even though it’s easy to get caught. Once again, one bad example makes it tough to hear any pastor without wondering about the source of every sermon.
  8. Some pastoral candidate included false information on a resume. It happens, I’m afraid. A falsely beefed-up resume can lead to doubts not only about the candidate, but about other pastors as well. 
  9. They’ve seen a pastor treat his family poorly. They grieve when they see the pastor critique his spouse or berate his children publicly. His actions only raise questions about his personal walk with God.

I’m not asking for other reasons to be added today. Instead, I’m asking you to take a moment and simply pray for your pastors. 


  • Jim Watson says:

    Revealing something told in confidence is a big reason. No one wants to hear from a third party what they revealed in private only to their pastor.

  • Mark says:

    I want to go back a step. Quite a few people in churches don’t really know the pastor. Sure, they have heard sermons but have never gotten facetime with him/her. Now facetime with anyone higher up (bishop and above) is very rare except for a select few. This is why some churches have pastors for various age groups so that people can talk to one with whom they can possibly relate.

  • Max says:

    Hard to put trust in a stranger who does weekly speeching and otherwise lives very distant from the congregants – the concept of a shepherd is lost in many 21st century contexts

  • Harry B. 'Sunny" Mooney, III says:

    I remember during my seminary days (1987-1991) that a well known SBC preacher gave his permission for others to use his messages as spiritual ammunition from their pulpits. Today, I’ve heard of some who boast in the fact that they plagiarized another’s “Word from God.” Believe it or not, some congregants do not mind if their pastor borrows another person’s sermon or that he doesn’t personally hear from God. No, people should NOT trust a pastor who doesn’t see the need to personally hear from God’s Word and share, Thus saith the LORD!”

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