10 Reasons Church Members Don’t Trust Pastors

10 Reasons Church Members Don't Trust Pastors

I’ve previously written about why pastors don’t trust other pastors. If that lack of trust weren’t tragic enough, the truth is that many laypersons don’t truly trust their own pastor. Based on my years of doing church consultation interviews, here are some reasons your church members may not trust you:

  1. They’ve been burned in the past. It takes only one pastor to wrongly share private information to cause church members to struggle ever trusting pastors again.
  2. They’ve at least heard too many bad stories about pastor betrayal. Listen long enough, and you’ll hear some church member talking about a pastor somewhere who broke a confidence.
  3. They don’t trust pastors in general. Refer to points #1 and #2 above. Even if you and I have never betrayed them, they can’t get beyond what some other pastor did.
  4. They don’t trust our spouse. If church members don’t trust our spouse, they won’t trust us, either. Talkative spouses cost pastors a lot.
  5. They fear being a sermon illustration (even anonymously). Once again, they’ve heard it happen somewhere, and they worry it will happen again. If they never tell a pastor anything private, though, they never run this risk.
  6. They’ve read something negative we put on social media. Maybe it was an off-color comment or curse word. Perhaps it was a veiled exposure of another church member’s issues. Whatever it was, they no longer trust us as spiritual leaders.
  7. They don’t really know us well enough to trust us. We might carry the title of “Pastor,” but they know us as only the Sunday morning preacher they never see again until the next week. They may want to trust us fully, but they’re not yet convinced of our integrity simply because they’ve spent little time with us.
  8. They’ve seen too many pastors fall—often publicly. They’ve learned that nobody—including us—is immune to the possibility of falling. Why, then, should a church member deeply trust leaders who could be off the scene quickly after a fall?
  9. Some grew up in, or around, pastors’ homes. That is to say, they saw too much to ever fully trust a pastor again. It’s tough to overcome our family of origin when that family borders on hypocrisy.
  10. They know that pastors come and go. Why open their heart to leaders who could already be looking for the next green grass?

Pastors, what other reasons would you add? Laypersons, what are we missing?

This article originally appeared here.

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Chuck Lawless
Chuck Lawless currently serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions and Dean of Graduate Studies at Southeastern Seminary. You can connect with Dr. Lawless on Twitter @Clawlessjr and on at facebook.com/CLawless.