So I was recently sitting in on some meetings with potential contractors and we started discussing the vision for The Oak House. One of the contractors said “Man, I thought about doing something kinda like this when we built our new building at our church.” I asked him why he didn’t do it and he gave a response which is best summarized by saying he didn’t think the congregants would understand what is happening as they had never done anything like that before. What a shame.
That contractor was in a major metropolitan Atlanta area which needs coworking spaces. His building would have been perfect for something like The Oak House. This gentleman made a fatal mistake by saying “No” for the other people. He has no idea if anyone else would hop on board. He made an assumption and his idea went nowhere. Never say “no” for someone else. Let them say it.
I know where this guy was coming from. He assumed, probably correctly but we will never know, people wouldn’t understand why a church was “running a business”. I find it strange people can understand why a church would have a bake sale to send the seniors to a fun activity or why the youth would do a car wash to raise money for a student’s retreat, but they can’t understand doing a cafe or coworking space to help fund ministries of the church. It is basically a long-term fundraiser.
I find the kind of pushback I receive about The Oak House to be a misunderstanding of intent and not a dislike for the idea. I get it. It is a new idea. People aren’t used to think type of thinking yet. But that’s ok; some aren’t used to women wearing pants instead of dresses, a Bible translation other than the King James Version, or churches which meet in a movie theater. Some aren’t even used to women being able to have input on the way the church operates or any decisions made. It doesn’t mean they are right about their views, it just means they don’t have the same view on it as you do.
It is ok if others don’t like what is happening with The Oak House. They don’t have to. You can’t please everyone. Someone will always be looking for a way to not like what you are doing. Elbert Hubbard said, “To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” Very well said Mr. Hubbard.
*Side note: the preceding quote is often mis-attributed to Aristotle however there is not enough evidence to make that attribution.
When you are on the verge of doing something new and great, expect criticism. If you believe you are right, speak your truth unapologetically. Always be open to the possibility you are wrong and be open to making course corrections, but until you get enough evidence to convince you to the contrary, keep moving forward. Have some folks in your life whom you trust to tell you when you are missing the mark. Lean on their council. But speak your truth.