“We’ve Never Done that Before”

Often the first reaction to a new initiative is “we’ve never done that before” or “we’ve never done it that way before.” I’ve heard that response in parishes, in schools and in other organizations. We’ve never done that before. Full stop. End of consideration of a proposal.

Change is always difficult, which makes it easy to dismiss new ideas and initiatives. But, as Einstein once observed, insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

We’ve never done that before or we’ve never done it that way before, are perfectly fine words, so long as they are followed by a comma, not a period. We’ve never done it before, but let’s give it a shot. We’ve never done it that way before, but it seems like something worth considering.

This is especially true in the church when we are facing many of the questions we face today. For example, how to engage our young people. At a Catholic Campus Ministry Meeting earlier this year, Archbishop Chaput observed that “too often in the Church we expect young adults to simply fill the empty slots fo existing structure and ministries, even when some of the programs are obviously dead shells. Old methods of pastoral outreach predetermine the ways in which we employ new disciples. Then we’re surprised that nothing seems to change.”

The same could be said for other questions.

I’m not suggesting change for the sake of change. But we need to reflect on which of our “old ways” are working and which aren’t. And we need to be more open to consider new ideas and initiatives.


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