Trust is one of those things that underpins just about every relationship that you have – be it with your husband or wife, your pastor, your boss, or even the supermarket you shop at and the garage that services your car.
At a very basic level, trust is the simple fact of knowing that someone will fulfil a promise they have made. But that takes an awful lot of courage because trust involves relying on somebody else, and we all know that people can let us down.
Trust is more than a transaction
When it comes to choosing who to trust, it’s far more than a transactional process. We don’t merely trust people to do what they say they will – we trust people to care. We chose to confide in people not just because we know they won’t betray our confidence, but because we know that what matters to us, matters to them.
Over the past few years our nation’s institutions have been the centre of more scandals than many of us would like to be reminded of – there was the phone tapping scandal, child abuse by priests, institutional racism in the police and endless political promises that have never been fulfilled.
The trust that many had in these bodies of power has been eroded. So we can’t presume that people will trust us just because we are the church. Whether we are looking to build relationships with people in need in our community, civic authorities, local schools or businesses, then we need to be intentional about building trust.
Here at Cinnamon, we are motivated by Jesus to serve people of all faiths and those of none. Our focus is on community transformation – but when working through churches Jesus naturally becomes part of the conversations. We take seriously the words in 1 Peter 3:15, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”
Being up-front about our Christian distinctiveness and identity is important – and we’ve actually found that it’s something that our partners actively celebrate. One of our statutory partners recently commented that, “It’s not just a project when churches engage, they bring a sustainable sense of community.”
So let’s be proud of who we are in Christ, and of the opportunities He gives us to serve our communities.
Strong foundations matter
When it comes to building trust – details matter. As Jesus said “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much,” Luke 16:10.
If what the world sees on the surface doesn’t run throughout every aspect of what we so and how we behave, then we won’t gain the trust of others. In one sense, we all want to be like sticks of rock, with a consistent message running through us.
But those deep levels of trust take time to build. On our Cinnamon Incubator, where we help great church-led projects to develop to a point where they can be replicated, we cover the topics of governance and policy. Whilst those sessions may not get the blood racing, they are nevertheless, vitally important.
If we are to build projects, initiatives and churches that people trust then they need to be built on firm unfaltering foundations. We need to take time to think about how our ethos will seep into everything we do; about how we will ensure that our team emulates that trust; and, of course, how we are going to deal with problems as and when they arise.
Transparency is key
The thing is, we are all human and that makes us fallible. Things will go wrong, we will make poor judgements and at times we will let people down – so we need to be prepared for the failures as well as the success. If we have created projects, churches and even friendships that are transparent, open and accountable, then these issues can be picked up early and addressed.
As we said at the start – trust takes years to build, but it’s something that we as churches, social action projects and individuals need to be intentional about. We can’t presume that we’ll get it right or that it will be easy, but we can take comfort from the knowledge that we have Jesus to guide us.
Paul’s words 2 Corinthians 1:12, offer a great blue print for the way we should all be seeking to build relationships with the various communities we find ourselves in – and it’s firmly rooted in our own trust in God.
“Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrityand godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace.”