A polarity is a pair of interdependent yet seemingly oppositional truths. When a conflict occurs around a polarity, Oswald and Johnson write, "both sides will be right, and they will need each other to experience the whole truth." While problems can be solved and conflicts can be resolved, polarities are indestructible and must be managed. These are important distinctions for Church leaders to make at every level, congregation, judicatory, denomination, and ecumenical.
Oswald and Johnson devote a chapter to each of the following polarities:
(1) Staying rooted in the faith's heritage while fostering creativity in faith life;
(2) Nurturing mission while maintaining a healthy institution;
(3) Creating a stable congregation but one that is able to embrace change;
(4) Supporting clergy leadership while encouraging lay participation;
(5) Responding to members' needs while simultaneously caring for others;
(6) Manifesting God's unconditional love while challenging people to grow and to serve;
(7) Making it easy to become a member while ensuring that membership has meaning;
(8) Helping members fulfill their callings while ensuring that all tasks of congregational life and ministry are accomplished.The workshop, like the book, showed the positive and negative aspects of each pole, how to recognize when imbalance is occurring between them, and how to address and correct the imbalance.
For those not currently experiencing conflict, polarity management can be a good prevention tool. For those in the midst of conflict around a polarity, it would help people recognize the legitimacy of both sides and create a more cooperative context for the ongoing dialogue and activity around the polarizing issue.
Maybe if followers of Jesus Christ become better at managing the polarities within their communities, they can more effectively address polarities in the culture.