Organizational Death: A Ritual’s End

This week I have been consumed with reading about “Organizational Death”.  This is not always what we perceive when first hearing the word.  Often times it is just the closing of a factory or a part of a division.  It also can be as minute and the ending of a process to make way for a new one.  Bell and Taylor discuss in their article about organizational death and how often it is associated with the linear grief model (2011).  However, since this model has developed a more fluid progressive model does that mean organizational death can adopt this new model?  Grief is a personal and community event.  There are often rituals associated with the death of a person, animal or thing.  Employees, members, groups need to be able to perform and act out these rituals and not separate themselves from the cause of grief but learn to work with it in its new form so individuals can grow and establish a new set of ritual and routines to ensure they move on from the “death”.

Are civic organizations who fail to attract millennials stuck in a grief cycle?  Are they having trouble conforming or developing new ritual that is meaningful for everyone?  Is the Church going through this?  Is in a desperate attempt to attract younger members forcing the membership to adapt to new processes and rituals they are not ready to accept?  Maybe with the change of the social culture the organizations had to experience a death of tradition and ritual.  If they did experience this death maybe that is the reason pushing for change is not successful?  If individuals who must accept and adjust to the new process are forced to end traditions and rituals that worked for their generation, ensuring that everyone has completed the grieving process can be difficult in large masses because by not being completed the changes will never be accepted or successful.

As a society, death has been viewed very dualistically.  This is often why the elderly return to Church is for assurance and providing a structure of understanding of what is to come.  Since the 1970s however, the Church has seen a decrease in membership and a rise in spiritually in America (Bass, 2012).  This rise is due to the personal relationship individuals are making with God and Christ.  They find a stronger personal relationship outside the walls of a Church than they do performing ritual.  What about ritual do individuals in this generation not feel?  Watching ritual being performed is a beautiful experience.  Attend an evening song service.  Individuals without knowing it begin rocking back and forth in unison as they sing or chat the ritual.  There is a peace and calm that comes with the sudden performance of ritual.  That calm intimate feeling can be experienced through the performance of ritual.  Millennials and society have changed from a social society to an individualistic society which makes group participation limited in ritual services.

I call for a challenge.  If you have not stepped inside a house of worship.  I challenge you to do so.  Not necessarily to attend or believe but to observe.  To come in touch with a unison with others and with the deity of your choice.  Ritual is what unites us as a society.  It is how we pass down our knowledge and instruction of how to be human beings to our little ones.  Ritual is a dying art and deserves to be maintained for future generations to come.  Next week I will be discussing on how you teach rituals to new individuals.  Instructors are divided and split on the issue.  It was not until reading Teaching Ritual by Catherine Bell did I begin to think about how I teach ritual. Until next time.

If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.
2 Corinthians 5:17-18

Thanks be to God.


Bass, D. B. (2012). Christianity after religion: The end of church and the birth of a new spiritual awakening. HarperOne.

Bell, E., & Taylor, S. (2011). Beyond letting go and moving on: New perspectives on organizational death, loss and grief. Scandinavian journal of management, 27(1), 1-10.


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