Distrust by Default?

You’ve probably been there. You walk into a store with a bag of items you purchased from a neighboring store. As you walk through the door, the “greeter” asks if they can watch your bag for you while you shop.

You can tell by their look the question is rhetorical. They are really saying,”give me your bag” in the form of a question. That question says several things. Among them:

  • We get ripped off often.
  • We think you might do it to us, too.
  • But, you can trust us to hold your bag without taking anything and trust we’ll get it back to you in a convenient manner.

I’m sure stores don’t want to send those messages. But, they are sent all the same. If I’m coming to a store to spend money, the last thing you want to convey to me is how lowly you think of every person who visits your store by default–including me.

Churches send these messages more than they think. Some structure ministry and preach as though they assume people are stingy, lustful, gossipers or lazy by default. In the back of our minds, we think, as an example, “We must keep the Wednesday night service going. If we don’t, people won’t study their bibles, pray or think of God between the Sundays.”

Have a Wednesday night service if you think it’s a good idea. But don’t do it as a thinly veiled way of asking people to give you their bag at the door of the church building. Healthy ministry can’t thrive on distrust. Healthy ministry has passion for God and vision for His redemptive work in the lives of people as it’s driver.

Besides, if people think you think poorly of them, they won’t be led by you. When people need correction they must still believe you believe genuinely in what they can become before they will listen.

Treating people with de facto respect and assumption of common decency will serve a church far better than the alternative.

Question: What messages do you think churches send unknowingly?

Dr. Tim Spivey is Lead Planter of New Vintage Church in San Diego, California. He is the author of numerous articles and one book, "Jesus: The Powerful Servant." A sought after speaker for events, Tim also serves as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University. Tim serves as a church consultant, and his writings are featured on ChurchLeaders.com, Church Executive magazine, Faith Village, Sermon Central, and Giving Rocket.

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