8 Ways Trust is the Currency of Change

wp-1454508912664.pngMy friend and coach, Dave Howeth who serves a Church Planting Catalyst with NAMB here in Colorado, sent me an e-mail recently reminding me that trust is the currency of change.  He sent that to encourage my associate pastor and myself about the Great Commission direction we seek to take the church.

Here’s what I’ve gleaned in how and why trust is the currency of change–and how it can be lost.

  1. Transparency.  Communicate frequently, clearly, and passionately about the next steps with your key people.  Also, allow feedback in giving permission for them to be transparent with you.  (See Galatians 2:11-21.)
  2. Loyalty.  Trust comes when those around you know you love them and have their back.  This may mean you stick with someone longer than others believe you should, but you do all you can to help them succeed.  (Think of Barnabas with John Mark in Acts 15:33ff.)
  3. Integrity.  Align what you say with what you’ll do and vice versa.  Hypocrisy is a high crime in our culture.  Integrity is still a high virtue, even in the business world. (Look at Proverbs 10:9.)
  4. Care.  Engage people around you and ‘under’ you (in regards to chains of command).  Showing you care about them personally and genuinely will go a long way in developing a culture of trust. (John 13:34-35).
  5. Learn. Admit your mistakes, and actively seek to rectify the situation.  I’ve found that if you own your mistakes and learn from them for the future, you’ll gain even more trust from others.  If you fail to own them and blame them on people, situations, etc., trust wanes.  (“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. — Proverbs 28:13)
  6. Reconcile. Admit when you’ve acted out of line.  Jesus said, “First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.  Come to terms quickly” (Matthew 5:24b-25a).
  7. Self-aware. Trust is an emotional bank account.  When numerous changes need to take place, “mutual trust and good relationships are sometimes the only things to hold on to.” (Source)  Trust serves as an emotional bank account through which you can make deposits or withdrawals. (Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.–Proverbs 28:26)
  8. Appreciation.  When someone is helpful or shows a nice gesture to you, say thank you.  Never let a good deed or word go by without showing appreciation. (See Philippians 1:3-6.)

Seven Qualities of an Inward, Ingrown Church

Yesterday at the church where I pastor, I shared one characteristic of what C. John Miller calls an ‘ingrown church.’ Below are a synopsis of all seven characteristics from his book, Outgrowing the Ingrown Church  by C. John Miller(Zondervan, 1986) pp. 27-40.

1. Tunnel Vision

Members of the ingrown church body are characterized by tunnel vision that limits potential ministries of the church to those that can be accomplished by the visible, human resources at hand. These possibilities are often further limited by recollections of past negative experiences and perceptions of present obstacles. At bottom, this is unbelief based on a secularized ignorance of the Spirit’s power—His ability to supply us with God’s goals for the church and the supernatural means to reach them.

2. Shared Sense of Group Superiority

This visionless church is often characterized by a sense of superiority to “the others.” Many smaller congregations and their leadership have become egocentric because of their fear of extinction. Struggling churches are likely to exaggerate points of superiority they actually possess as means of compensation for their limitations. . . . This assumed positive feature leads to an unconscious elitist attitude. If we are proudly clinging to an ecclesiastical tradition and making it our hope, we may have secured our status in our own eyes yet failed miserably with the Lord.

3. Extreme Sensitivity to Negative Human Opinion

The members of the ingrown church are also likely to feel inferior and shrivel up and die at the first sign of opposition. A world of disapproval from a “pillar” of the church is enough to rattle the ecclesiastical squirrel cage and send everyone running for cover. . . . The sad truth is that one negative critic with a loud voice who speaks from within the inner circle of the ingrown church usurps the role of Christ, wielding the power to make or break programs. . . . An ingrown church has given in for so long to intimidation that its fears have obscured vital contact with the promises of God.

4. Niceness in Tone

The ingrown church has the shared desire to be seen as “nice.” What is often wanted in the local church is unrelieved blandness: a “nice pastor” preaching “nice sermons” about a “nice Jesus” delivered in a “nice tone” of voice. . . . It is likely that those who are walking with Him in close fellowship will not always be nice and predictable. But the introverted church wants to secure the church doors against divine surprises and unannounced entrances by the King.

5. Christian Soap Opera in Style

In the introverted church we find that the members use their tongues a great deal—not to witness or pray or praise or to affirm one another, but to publicly review on another’s flaws, doings, and sins. We all know how easy it is for church members to go home after hearing a sermon and have “roast pastor” for lunch. Why does this happen? . . . . Unbelief and fear characterize the mental outlook in the ingrown church. The members of the church do not see themselves as living, praying, and talking in partnership with Christ and one another through His indwelling Holy Spirit. There is often a failure to cultivate among leaders and people a spirit of forgiveness, mutual forbearance, and love.

6. Confused Leadership Roles

In many churches the members of the congregation do not want officers who are trying to be pacesetters for God’s kingdom. This is especially true of the small church, where fear of change runs high. In the typical self-centered church, there is a hidden determination to eradicate enthusiasm that disturbs the comfortable routine dictated by self-trust, self-exaltation, niceness as a defense mechanism, and the rights of gossip. . . . In this system elders also lack great convictions about God and His gospel and have little active role in the daily lives of church members.

7. A Misdirected Purpose

It is clear from the foregoing that the controlling purpose in the ingrown church has to do with survival—not with growth through conversion of the lost. We can recognize this misdirected purpose by noting what goes into the church budget (and what is left out) and how visitors to the church services are welcomed. No planning is devoted to finding ways to assimilate visitors into the fellowship.

Read through Romans 1, Psalm 95, and Matthew 28:18-20 each day for a week. Ask God to show you how to prevent or to overcome being an inward, ingrown church.

Starting the Year Answering the Hardest Question for an Organization


Over Christmas, my wife and kiddos bought me some presents that I absolutely treasured.  (Notice I said ‘wife and kiddos’—a big step for me, since I only quit believing in Santa at the age of 38.  But, I digress!)  My family knows well not only what I like (anything Cincinnati Bengals, Colorado Rapids, or Arsenal) and what I need.  I know I was a grown-up when I started enjoying getting clothes for Christmas!  The people who know you best, also are the ones who know your heart.

Do we believe that this church belongs to Jesus?  Sometimes, I overhear people saying that ARBC is “my church.”  That statement is good—if you realize how God has called you to invest in others.  But that statement can be bad: “This church belongs to me and what I say, goes!”  Goodness, just typing that statement gave me the chills, for Jesus said, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”

Now we come to the hardest question any organization (church or otherwise) could ask itself:  “Why do we exist?”  That can stop you in your tracks, right?  It’s the type of question that you think you know and take for granted that you have the answer… until you realize that you have trouble articulating it clearly.

We may say, “Well, we exist to win others to Christ!”  If you get down to it, that’s a ‘what’—it’s what we do, but this sentence doesn’t clearly state why.  You may say, “We come to grow in the Word and to love each other.”  This may split some hairs, but that’s actually a how, not a why.  It’s more behavioral.  Helpful, but not quite it!

I’ve struggled for four years—four years—begging God to give me a why that each and every one of our people can rally around.   In our day, when the world is unraveling at the seems, what can help the Christian focus.  Then it happened as a result of a conversation I had about this very subject with Jim Misloski, our State Missions Director (East Side) for our Colorado Baptists.

The why is this: we exist to glorify God (Psalm 115:1).  Now, were you like me, having that V8 moment when you hit yourself square in the forehead?

The what is this:  make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20).  Our ‘Gather to Go’  serves this purpose, gathering as disciples to go and make disciples.

The how:  our grow in the Word, love one another, serve our neighbors, and go to the nations behaviors serve this purpose.

On the plane ride back to Denver from Kentucky, it hit me.  Hard.  Between-the-eyes hard.  A vision is a preferred future.  What’s mine?  What’s God’s?  What should be ours?

Where every heart in Denver believes that Jesus is enough.  That’s it!  The sufficiency of Christ.  We live in a city where the majority say, “Enough of Jesus!”  We (metaphorically) scream back, “No, Jesus is enough!

This speaks to our church as well, where Christ is assumed and peripheral issues come to the forefront.

This speaks to our culture, where Christ is erased from the collective conscience.

This why fuels the what and the how.  The sufficiency of Christ as we preach, sing, go to Sugar City, work in our cubicle, drive down the highway, write that letter, serve that neighbor.  We must want this for our city!  It’s not about us anymore.  God has given us a present on a tree named Jesus.  What He did was enough to secure our salvation, our walk in Him, and our eternal life.  He is enough—He’s more than enough.  You know it…

… don’t you want your city, your state, your nation, your world to know it, too?  God know what we need and what our world needs!

Pastor Matt