Last week, I visited with one of the most respected Christian leaders in America. His new book contains a message for every ministry organization. What is this message that centers on one word? What is this one invaluable, irreplaceable truth no ministry can afford to squander, lest it jeopardize their integrity, effectiveness and ministry impact for the cause of Jesus Christ?
The word is “trust.” And the leader—who’s showing the Christian world how truth-based trust can transform any ministry organization for good—is Dan Busby, president of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA). By applying its Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship, ECFA’s 2,000 members are continually enhancing trust in Christ-centered ministries and churches.
Because trust is essential to the work of BCWI to foster flourishing organizational cultures, I immediately resonated with Busby’s new book, Trust: The Firm Foundation of Kingdom Fruitfulness. Our conversation was just underway when Busby cut to the chase. . . .
“Whether in the nonprofit world, the business world or the church—people everywhere, both within and outside the greater Christian community, are asking, ‘Can an organization and its leaders, who profess their faith in God through Jesus Christ, be trusted?’” Busby was just warming up.
“Trust has the power of a huge, rolling wave that can crest and cascade into an ocean of goodwill for the church, for every ministry faithful to honoring and serving Jesus Christ. The question is how do we become trusted ministries that, as Walt Russell reminds us, “can bless the world’s people groups and God the Father and graciously prolong the return of Messiah Jesus so that all can be brought into the harvest?”
Ministries that seek to be trustworthy in God’s eyes—and in each other’s—are simultaneously simple and profound.
“In every Christ-centered ministry,” says Busby, “Jesus Christ should always be center stage—never in the wings and never off the stage. It’s when Christ is on center stage that we, as ministry organizations, enjoy the strongest opportunity to advance the truths of our faith.”
The alternative, says Busby, is not pretty and can be tragic. Mistrust in the workplace inevitably creates:
- Dissension that pits ministry factions against themselves
- Disengagement that causes staff members to pull away from one another, resist healthy, productive collaboration, and then retreat into defensive-minded, territorial silos
- Detachment (aka turnover) that results when the very high-performance people the ministry needs to flourish, sense a culture of mistrust and decide to leave
- Dishonesty by employees who’ve given up all trust and hope and resort to fraud—at the cost of their own integrity and that of the ministry
What can proactive ministries do to head off these four potential tragedies?
Busby’s watchwords: “Trust (of the lack of it) always flows down from the top where it’s modeled and imparted (or not) by the board and senior leadership. Does your leadership demonstrate trust in their everyday lives and everyday work?”
The good result, or outcome, of this question underscores the passion of John Wesley, who said, “Our responsibility, as Christians, is to give the world the right impression of God.” A God who can be trusted by all who keep Christ on center stage—at home, in church, and at work.