I occasionally use phrases like these that I definitely shouldn’t. In fact, I can remember using at least one of these in the past week. What phrases do we use in the church that put the brakes on progress?
“We can’t” can come out of our mouths far more quickly than just about anything else. Finances, logistics, and tradition often get this phrase going. “We can’t afford that.” “We can’t set that up.” “We can’t find someone to run that.” The list goes on and on. Now, there are always a million reasons not to do something. Some of them are great reasons! However, this “We can’t” phrase is often used as a knee-jerk reaction to something that we may not like or want to put into place. We have to think through new ideas, coming to an informed decision instead of just dropping the “We can’t” bomb immediately.
“We’ve never” is the ultimate killer. “We’ve never” has sparked more church conflict than any other thing I can think of. “We’ve never done it that way before” is the battle cry of people that place tradition, familiarity, and comfort over innovation, progress, and reaching new people. What we fail to realize is that for every new idea, somebody had never done it that way before. A box on wheels that we drive? We’ve never done it that way before. Use the bathroom inside the house? We’ve never done it that way before. Air conditioning? We’ve never done it that way before. This phrase is a really good way to halt progress. When it comes up, a great response is a simple: “Why?”
“We shouldn’t” can be a great halter of progress, but it’s sometimes a good thing. “We shouldn’t” is the most dangerous of the phrases because it’s true as many times as it is false. Sometimes, we shouldn’t. Really. “Let’s get some actual alligators for the kids’ summer event.” No, really…we shouldn’t. “Let’s just let this conflict slide.” We shouldn’t. Leadership must decide what should and shouldn’t happen with the aid of Scripture and good thinking. There are plenty of things that should absolutely should happen that plenty of people get mad at. “We shouldn’t air our dirty laundry in public.” On the contrary, I’ve done a few videos with people that aired their dirty laundry and the story of how God bleached it…and people were changed. “We shouldn’t do anything that’s not in the hymnal.” Really, we should do new music. Every song in that hymnal was new at some point too. This “We shouldn’t” phrase is a tough one, but used incorrectly, it will bring progress in the church to a screeching halt.