Are we made for the Sabbath, or is the Sabbath made for us? Likewise, are we here primarily to serve the Church, or does the Church exist to serve and assist us as individuals? Most of us would think the second part of each sentence represents the deeper truth, yet so often it seems we act and think as if we as individuals are made for the Sabbath or the Church rather than them being given and continuing to exist in order to help and bless us. In a classic article, “The Institutional Church and the Individual,” organizational behavior professor and conflict negotiator J. Bonner Ritchie, lays out in a fresh and open way many of the tensions that exist–and will always exist–between organizations and individuals. To greater and lesser degrees, each have different goals and values, and they inevitably conflict with each other. When institutions act, at least some individuals experience hurt or pain. Yet institutions and individuals need each other, need the others’ stability or energy or creativity. The question is how can we mitigate the negative aspects in order to make this a creative tension rather than a painful, energy sucking one? Ritchie makes the claim that it is impossible to make institutions fully safe for individuals, so the task must become how to make individuals safe from organizational abuse or highly negative encroachments upon conscience or our daily lives?
In this episode, J. Bonner Ritchie joins Katie Langston, Bill Hansen, and Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon for a stimulating discussion about these dynamics, illustrating them with stories and experiences and practical advice. The discussion covers both theory and practice, focusing in the second half on things like avoiding the negative consequences of worthiness interviews or the felt pressure accept every Church calling, etc.
We hope you will listen and then join in the conversation below!