A foundational element

Trust is the necessary confidence people have in their leaders and each other that allows them to live, move, and be in such a way that they are willing to put the purpose of the group above of their own. Leaders who demonstrate and instill trust build the capacity that is needed to take risks and endure failures that come with change. As trust grows, so do the opportunities for creative thinking to emerge that will allow the congregation to better understand who it is, what it does, and could do, and what might be need to do in order to change something about itself or its ministry. 

In Practice

Every congregation has enough trust present for it to keep doing what it's doing. However if one hopes to address anything meaningful about the life of a congregation or even try something new; the trust level will have to increase. It's not enough for the pastor to be trusted, trust needs to be present at all levels -- among the leadership, staff, stakeholders, and even the community -- for real change to take place. Most pastors underestimate the importance of building trust and instead settle on their role, rather than their reputation, as the basis for change. This doesn't work because in the change process everyone has to sacrifice something for the good of the whole, and some more than others. To rely on role alone, is to neglect the investment the pastor must make in order to build trust in their ability to lead change.  


Trust is earned. Pastors who want to lead change should always be attentive to the trust level in the congregation and actively assess whether there is enough trust present to do something new. In order to lead change, the pastor will need to demonstrate that they are worthy of the congregation's trust. 

Reflection Questions

  • What is the current level of trust in your congregation?
  • What are the reasons for your assessment?
  • Who/what does the congregation trust the most/least? 
  • What is the history of trust in your congregation?
  • What are some things that have eroded trust?
  • What are some things you can do to increase trust?


Trust & Culture by Jacqueline Oliveira 

Brené Brown on Trust & Leadership