I heard something today that caught my attention and interest, so I had to research the statement. Basically, the statement went something like this: “Americans trust clergy less than they trust used car salesmen.”
I researched a number of different articles, asking the question “does America trust pastors?” I found that, while the politicians are the least trusted, and nurses the most, religious institutions and clergy are somewhere in the middle; depending on which poll is used. I’m not clear on whether the church ranks higher than the car salesman, but I am certain of this one thing: the trust level between the “Church” and the people the church is attempting to reach is far too low. 48% seems to be the average level of trust America has for the church.
Picture this: skimming through the Yellow Pages one day, looking for a church in your area to visit, you run across an advertisement which reads, “Honest John’s Church of the Redeemed.” The ad goes on to say, “the place where miracles flow, joy prevails, and lives are changed.” Would you visit that church next Sunday?
Maybe, maybe not.
What if the ad was true, “most of the time”?
We probably all know of churches which use the cute little saying, “a church that’s alive, is worth the drive.”
Does the church “always” seem alive to every person who attends? Does the pastor “always” ring the proverbial bell, EVERY Sunday? Is the congregation “always” friendly, helpful, and engaging?
And what does the slogan say about the other churches in the area? You know, the ones we’ll share eternity in Heaven with?
Doesn’t it seem to scream, “don’t go to any church but Honest John’s! It is THE happening church! It’s the place where all your water will be turned into wine. Trust us, and come on in!”
If you’ve been in and around churches for a long time, like I have, you’ll know things don’t really happen that way. Sure, God’s a miracle working God, but not everyday IS a miracle day. Why? Because people are people.
And people have a hard time trusting other people who always act like they have all the answers, yet struggle with life as much or more than the people who read their ads.
I believe the trust level would climb if the church would lower themselves, honestly and humbly, to a realistic, approachable level where relationships could be developed.
Instead of competing with other churches, how about finding ways to work with the other churches?
Lower standards? No! Change doctrine? Not necessarily. Build relationships, which allows trust to grow? Yes!
Who knows…maybe, just maybe, the Church will once again be the City (singular) on a Hill.
And if Honest John’s Church IS REALLY honest, it won’t have to spend a nickel on advertising. People will find out, because that’s what Americans are looking for.