1. Exit: We can leave it, either physically, or by mentally and emotionally disengaging,
2. Voice: We can voice our discontent through protest or dialogue, or
3. Loyalty: We may stick with what we have. This might be because our freedom of exit and/or voice is limited (e.g. in an authoritarian state). However, we may stick with it because we feel that the world would be a worse place without the organization, even if it is broken, and that weakening it would be worse that the current situation.
For example, Britain is facing an upcoming general election. I am not particularly happy with the Labour Party’s recent performance in government. However, I am afraid that if I vote for someone else (exit) or express too much dissatisfaction (voice) I could contribute to a Conservative Party win — a worse outcome for me. So I will probably begrudgingly vote for Labour and tell others to as well (loyalty).
Of course, these options are not mutually exclusive. One can express voice by exiting, or while one is exiting. Or one can express voice while remaining loyal.
It has struck me recently that this is an interesting analytical framework with which think about how different people react to their dissatisfaction with the Community of Christ. Some people leave the church altogether (exit). At times, I have tried to do this, by emotionally disengaging. But I have actually found that it is pretty hard to leave. I am so embedded in Community of Christ culture and social networks that I wouldn’t be able to leave if I wanted to. Some people stay with the church because they feel that they can do more good in it than out of it (loyalty). Personally, I have moved toward the option of voice — expressing how I feel about and think of the church in forums like this one, in hopes that I can be a small part in its positive transformation (e.g. this article or this one).
I thought this would be a good way to frame a discussion here about how readers have decided to deal with their dissatisfaction with the church. Please share your thoughts, feelings and stories in the comments section below….
(For another article applying economic theory to the church, click here).