Clergy have historically ranked near the top among professions that rely upon trust.
In 1985, 67% of people said they trusted the honesty and ethics of the clergy.
Today, only 47% of people trust the clergy.
This means we cannot assume families will trust us.
In today's culture, trust for those in ministry must be earned.
So how do you earn their trust? Let's look at some of the biggies.
Build trust by keeping your word. Talk your word...but more importantly...walk your word. When you make a promise, keep it. When you tell them you will take care of something, follow through.
Build trust by keeping their children safe. Safety and security is a humongous deal with parents. And you can't blame them. We live in a society of violence, terrorism and abuse.
I can't emphasize this enough. Parents are only going to attend a church that keeps their children safe. Be proactive in telling them the safety measures you have in place.
Build trust by being age-appropriate. If you tell a story or show a video clip, make sure it's age appropriate. I learned this the hard way. We did a teaching series called "Road Trip."
In one scene, we had some people come out of the woods toward the camera. They were supposed to be people who had made bad decisions and were suffering because of it. Each one was wearing a filthy, white shirt. They staggered out of the woods and were trying to warn people not to follow their path.
The pre-teens loved it. But some of the little 1st graders freaked out and started crying. I had several parents approach me and ask me why I showed their child that clip. I had to make apologizes and ended up only showing the "scary" clip in the following services to the pre-teens.
Which is another important thing to remember. When you make a mistake, be quick to apologize and rectify the situation. This will help you keep parents' trust even though you made a mistake.
Build trust by maintaining good ratios. A room with 35 preschoolers and 2 volunteers is not going to earn the trust of parents. They know with that ratio their children will be not receive personal attention and will be part of "crowd control."
Good ratios are extremely important. It helps kids be known, loved, cared for, invested in and missed when absent.
Here are the ratios I recommend.
Infants - 1 to 2 (ideally 1-1)
Crawlers - 1 to 3
Toddlers - 1 to 4
2-year-olds - 1 to 4
3-year-olds - 1 to 8
4-year-olds - 1 to 8
5-year-olds to 5th grade - 1 to 10 (ideally 1 to 8)
Build trust by partnering with parents. Parenting is not an easy task. In fact, it's one of life's biggest challenges. Parents are looking for a ministry that can come alongside them and partner with them. Do this well and you will gain their trust.
Here are some key times you can partner with parents and earn their trust. This strategy lets parents know you will be there for them from the cradle to middle school. You can get more info. by clicking below.
Parent and Child Dedication
Entering a relationship with Jesus
Transition to middle school
Do these milestones well and over time, you will build a huge amount of trust with parents.
As we close out this article, I am thinking about a key passage of Scripture. It is full of ways you can earn people's trust. Read it slowly. Meditate on it. Look for key words that speak to you.
"Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here's what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It's the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn't wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn't wisdom. Twisting the trust to make yourselves sound wise isn't wisdom. It's the furthest thing from wisdom - it's animal cunning, devilish conniving. Whenever you're trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others' throats.
Real wisdom, God's wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor."