“We Tried That Before and It Didn’t Work.”

As many of us know, this is the traditional bugaboo of many churches and organizations in general. Someone offers a suggestion, an idea about change, and folks jump in with the reasons why it won’t work, because it didn’t work last time.

I am fortunate that “we tried that before and it didn’t work” isn’t a common sentiment at Tiny Church. It’s definitely there from time to time, but I’m excited to have a session and a transformation/discernment team that’s genuinely excited about asking “what if?” questions.

But when “we tried that” comes up, here’s what I say, or what I’d like to say in my better moments:

Actually, we didn’t try it before. We are a different group of people now than we were then. Some folks who were with us are no longer here. Some folks who are here now weren’t then. And even those who were around have done a lot of livin’ in the meantime. They aren’t the same people anymore. So let’s figure out what our five-years-ago selves have to teach us… but let’s also ask our five-years-ago selves to bless us as we seek to be faithful now.

How do you handle “we tried that and it didn’t work”?

2 thoughts on ““We Tried That Before and It Didn’t Work.”

  1. Rachel Heslin

    Go into specifics.

    Last time it was tried, what *exactly* was the group trying to accomplish?

    What *exactly* are we trying to accomplish now?

    What were the circumstances (financial, spiritual, demographic make-up of the congregation, time of year, recent upheavals) surrounding the last attempt at implementation? How have these circumstances changed?

    Were there specific aspects of the previous attempt that were more or less successful than other areas? Would it make sense to modify the current proposal to emphasize those parts of the previous incarnation which were most popular?

    And perhaps the most important question: how can we improve communication (both in planning and implementation) such that those people most affected feel that their concerns are being addressed so we can improve buy-in on as many levels as possible?


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