14 Can’t-Fail Principles to Earn the Trust of a New Community
Three years ago, we moved to Allendale to be a part of the community and to work with kids. And we really had no idea what we were doing. We were running towards the unknown, full of zeal without knowledge (or at least, a minimal amount of know-how).
As we look back, we are amazed about how much we were accepted and trusted. If they only knew how little we knew!
Thanks to the grace of our Lord, the power of His Spirit, and the counsel of many friends (from Allendale and from other places), we were able to earn the trust of many people in this community. If you would have asked us in 2011 how we were planning to do this, the best we could have done was shrug our shoulders and guess.
But now that we are looking to transition to a new community this summer, this is especially important to us. These ideas are a reminder for us.
So, as we reflect on our season in Allendale, I can tell you 14 things that we did to help us earn the trust of people in Allendale. If you find (or will one day find) yourself in a new community, take note.
- Come in with a mindset to learn and serve, not to teach and lead.
- Build relationships for the sake of the relationships themselves, not for the sake of accomplishing a task.
- Serve in already existing avenues and programs, instead of launching your own (see #1). I worked at the Boys & Girls Club for a year before venturing off on our own path.
- Be fully a part of the community. Shop in town and run your errands in town as much as possible. Spend most weekends there.
- Continue to build new relationships, and deepen those already formed.
- Keep learning and keep looking for opportunities to serve. You don’t have to take all of those opportunities, but be open to many of them.
- Ask for help, probably some from outside that community and definitely a lot from within. It’s a risk to be vulnerable, but it lets people know that you’re real, and it empowers others to serve. Don’t rob someone of the opportunity to serve. Don’t Try to Have It All Together.
- Keep seeking to build and deepen relationships. Do you see a common theme here? (see #1 and #5)
- After some length of time (probably at least 8 months or a year), start to lead your own programs and initiatives, and develop your own ideas, while you continue to learn. But when you do them, do them with excellence. You don’t have to be perfect, but people need to see that you are competent. No one wants to jump on board a leaky vessel.
- Don’t only do your own thing. Continue to support the initiatives and ideas of others in your community.
- Keep learning.
- Keep asking for help.
- Keep serving others.
- Keep building relationships.
Of course, this list is not exhaustive. I jotted these ideas down a few weeks ago when I had an open 15 minute window. So, I’d love your help:
What would you add to this list? How can we earn the trust of others, especially when we are new to a community?
- Connecting with Your Community — Part 1 (Theology), Part 2 (Principles), and Part 3 (Applications)
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- How to Do Short-Term Missions Well
- 2 Common Mistakes in Missions
- The Most Important Thing in Missions (CBC Talk — Part 3)
- A Show About Nothing
- Attacking Poverty Through Relief, Rehabilitation, and Development
- Culturally Engaged Keywords
- Helpful Resources
- Reason #30 Allendale Is Better Than Where You Live: Love and Acceptance
**image courtesy of pippalou via morguefile