Trust is in high demand and short supply globally. Why? It’s hard to gain and easy to lose. With trust, ministries create confidence to participate in God’s work. People give sacrificially and serve voluntarily. Without trust, churches split, ministries shut down, staff quit, and giving dries up.
In Trust: The Firm Foundation for Kingdom Fruitfulness, ECFA President Dan Busby writes, “A Christ-centered ministry that lacks trust is like a teenager running through a fireworks factory with a lit blowtorch. It isn’t whether something is going to blow up—it’s just a matter of when.” Sadly, ministries are blowing up daily for failing to protect trust.
So, how do God’s workers build trust and trustworthy people? Consider three suggestions from one verse in Paul’s second letter to Timothy. “You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others” 2 Timothy 2:2 (NLT).
- Listen to Reliable Instruction – Too many pastors and ministry administrators listen to the wrong advice. They don’t do it on purpose. They just confuse counsel that sounds good with instruction that is good. The faulty schemes sound like this: “Need more money for your ministry? Call us. We deliver proven strategies and greater giving.”
Don’t fall prey to such approaches! Only God controls results. Once people think your efforts seem worldly, your trust is tarnished. Instead, locate and listen to advisors who speak truth. Find counsel that reminds you of your job. You get to rally God’s people to pray and invite them to participate with what they have while you trust God to supply.
- Teach Reputable People – Recently ECFA launched an international entity, Global Trust Partners (GTP), with the mission of guarding trust in Christ-centered churches and ministries. I have been appointed to serve as president. As we build the GTP board and global team, we are looking first and foremost for reputable, trustworthy people.
What will we do with these trustworthy saints scattered in the 12 Lausanne regions of the world? Our aim is to disciple them to grasp God’s design for faithful administration and governance. Their ability to guard trust will be linked to our faithfulness in imparting truth to them. There is no fast track to forming trustworthy people. It takes time and effort.
- Use a Replicable Model – For building trust in organizations, the replicable model is known as peer accountability. It takes shape when churches and ministries agree to hold each other accountable to follow standards of responsible stewardship. Today, peer accountability groups like ECFA, exist in ten countries: USA, Canada, Philippines, Kenya, South Korea, Australia, Guatemala, Switzerland, India, and Egypt.
But, how do God’s workers build trustworthy people? Biblically speaking, we do this by making disciples. In modern terms, we aim at training trainers from the start. Adopting a “train the trainer” approach follows God’s design for accountability and multiplication. At present, GTP is developing a replicable training model to multiply disciples of faithful administration. Does your organization use a model that aims at multiplying faithful people?
Conclusion: Guarding trust in Christ-centered churches and organizations, starts with listening to instruction that is biblical and reliable. But, don’t let the instruction stop with you! Plant it deeply in the hearts of reputable people. To enhance trust in the ministry where you serve, apply to join the peer accountability group in your country. To multiply trustworthy people, apply replicable models aimed at training trustworthy trainers.
This work is not optional. It’s not secondary to evangelistic efforts, serving the poor, or feeding the hungry. It’s central. Without it, the ministry you serve is one crisis away from losing trust. No wonder Paul concluded his first letter to Timothy with this command: “Guard what God has entrusted to you” (1 Timothy 6:20a). It still applies today!