This is my second post in a series focused on building trust and credibility as a pastor. What are the keys? What steps need to be taken? How do you as a shepherd and leader earn the right to lead those under your care?
Let’s continues to explore several trust-building strategies that can help each of us in this area.
Trust-Builder #2: Over-communicate everything.
While important for everyone in your church, this is particularly crucial for your older congregants who desire to “stay in the loop” with what is going on.
I made this mistake early on as a pastor. I truly thought I was over-communicating with the congregation, when in reality I was not. I quickly learned that many people passionately dislike feeling uninformed. It’s not that most of these folks want to put a stop to whatever you are doing; they just want to know what is happening and why. They want to know the hours you will be available at the church during the week. They want to know about the changes you are preparing to make to the worship order and why you feel it is important to do so. They want to know why you moved that painting that has been in the same place for 50 years.
While it may seem silly, it is often little things like these that will get us into the most trouble and cause our people to lose trust most quickly. Over-communicating everything is crucial.
Shepherding Tip: Proactively Communicate with Key Influencers
When it comes to communication in the church, you must be proactive with key influencers. When you are leading a particular change, or when there is important information that needs to be shared with the congregation, be sure to talk with key influencers first. Make sure these individuals are up to speed and on board so they can have your back and help communicate accurate information with the rest of the congregation when questions arise. Keeping key influencers “in the know” will help protect the unity of the church and prevent unhelpful, divisive, false information from being spread throughout the congregation.
Trust-Builder #3: Be quick to show grace to those who fail and fall short.
People will mess up. We all do. The question is, will your congregation be one that is quick to show grace to those who fail or quick to show condemnation? Over time, you as the pastor will have a major influence in what type of culture is created in your church. What I can tell you is that typically where you see a church marked by great love and deep trust for their pastor, you find in that pastor a leader who has shepherded the flock with Christ-like love and grace, particularly when people fail and fall short. It is important for our people to hear this often: “It’s okay to fail.”
Let me ask you this. Why were so many messed up, broken people drawn to Jesus? It’s not hard to answer. It’s because when sinners came to Jesus, they experienced grace. Undeserved, life-changing grace. Every time. And this grace produced deep trust in the Savior.
In the same way, the Apostle Paul writes in Romans 2:4, that it is the kindness of the Lord that leads sinners to repentance. Grace, not condemnation, leads to transformation. It is no different when it comes to shepherd leadership in the church. It is kindness, love, mercy and grace that leads people to repentance and transformation in Christ. This also is what causes a congregation to love and trust their pastor, showing him the same kind of grace he has demonstrated to them.
This post originally appeared on Mark Hallock’s blog, “Preach Lead Love,” and is adapted from his book, The Priorities of a Shepherd Pastor.
Published November 2, 2020