Why Have So Many Lost Their Trust in the Church?

I cannot begin to tell you how many conversations I have had with people who have lost their trust in the church, usually because of a legitimate hurt. My reaction is always the same - I desperately hurt with them and feel their pain, but I also hurt for the Church. Why? Because the Church is God's Plan A for the redemption of mankind and He doesn't have a Plan B!

The Church was designed by Jesus to introduce people to a loving relationship with His Father. The Church is meant to be a bridge between God and man, but too often I see a bridge burnt, having left unmistakeable scars on the victim who tried to cross it. Why is the very institution designed to introduce people to a loving God often the very reason they reject Him? Why is the Church, a once widely trusted institution, lacking the trust of nearly all of society, including those inside it? I think we may find some answers in the very search of the meaning of trust.

The Truth about being Trustworthy:

  1. Being trustworthy is not the equivalent of being flawless (in character or performance)
. The fact is, the Church will never be perfect because it's full of imperfect people. It often hurts people because it is made up of hurting people. And as the saying goes, Hurt people hurt people. We must come to the understanding that perfection is not the aim of the church - unity is. Jesus prayed "Father, make them one...", He didn't pray, "Father make them right all of the time." In other words, to be trustworthy we must realize it's more important to be one than it is to be right. We must learn to value relationship and family over perfection and religion.
  2. Being trustworthy means being worthy-of-trust!
 What does it mean to be worthy of trust? I believe it means I'll do these 4 things:

    • I’ll commit to doing what I said I would do and when I don’t you’ll be the first to know.
 (this is dependability)

    • I’ll commit to not over promise and under deliver, but if it looks like that’s where things are headed I’ll tell you first.
 (this is honesty)

    • If you confront me about the gaps I’ve created, I’ll tell you the truth.
 (this is character)

    • I’ll commit to standing with you in the bad times as well as the good.
 (this is loyalty)
  3. A trustworthy person addresses the gaps they’ve created. Being trustworthy does not mean I'm perfect and will never make mistakes. Being trustworthy means that when I do make a mistake and hurt you, I will swallow my pride and admit it and seek to make it right.

The only way I can regain my trust in the Church is if I see it operating by the 3 principles of trust worthiness and then I must decide to trust in return.

The Truth about Trust:

  1. Trust is a choice
. We cannot be forced to trust: if we do it we must do it voluntarily.
  2. Trust is a risk.
 The risk we take in trusting is that we thereby let some part of our life go out of our control and into the hands of somebody else because the outcome of that particular issue now depends on the person or the people we have trusted.
  3. Trust has no contingency plans
. If I say that I trust you but then arrange a back up or a fall back plan in case you let me down, what I am communicating is that I really don’t trust you at all.
  4. Trust is fragile
. Forgiveness is the work of a moment but the restoration of trust is something different, it is very, very difficult and it always takes time.

Question: What if the Church could follow the rules of being Trustworthy? Would this help regain your trust? Would you be able to follow the rules of Trust? I want to encourage you to comment or ask questions in the "Leave a Reply" box below.