I am so thankful for the learning experiences that God gives us for certain phases of our lives. I truly believe with all my heart that it is out of what we learn when we do not possess answer upfront that causes us to have true growth as Christians. One of the more recent learning experiences I have had has been the concept of “church cliques” and the harm that it brings into the body of Christ.
First off, let us define it. A clique (pronounced like click) is considered a small group of people with shared interests or other features in common who spend time together and do not readily allow others to join them. You may have heard this term also be used as the inner circle, the in-crowd, the cool kids, the popular table, etc. I grew up all through elementary and middle school being considered “different” and was not leading to the conducive outcome of me fitting in. I’m not exactly sure what made me be so different from others…was it how I looked? Was it how I talked? Was it because of my name or my family? Was I too studious? Did I live on the wrong side of town? I now realize looking back that being different was far better than being another one of the in-crowd because at least I was defined for who I was (instead of what people stereotyped me to be based on the group). However, when I dealt with it as a young man it felt like the worst feeling in the world. This feeling was like a hovering cloud over my head that seemingly never left for what seemed like forever.
Looking back around my middle school to high school years I now realize that one of the contributing factors to what led me so easily into drug and alcohol abuse so early was needing a greater acceptance from facing an even greater rejection. Unfortunately where I found acceptance came at a great cost; and before I knew it what was once my enemy had become my greatest ally. I went from running from the cliques to becoming one in hanging around others that brought out the worst in me. As I look back now I realize that I was not only a hypocrite to others but was one to myself as well. The more and more I look back into the things that made me suffer as a young man help me to better address what pushed me into bad choices when I was not in strong control of my actions. Now that I have been saved by Jesus Christ the things that would have once destroyed me no longer have power.
I am so thankful I am free from the influence of sin by substance abuse! Unfortunately there is one thing that has continued to try and haunt me beyond my youth and immaturity: the battle of the cliques. I still see it all around me in families, homes, organizations, workplaces, ministries, and even churches. The sizes and personalities of the groups vary that drive them but they are nonetheless there and stronger than they have ever been. It’s everywhere. In short, church cliques are bad and will destroy your environments if they are not addressed. As I feel led to write this I hope that wherever this applies that you receive it with an open mind.
Here are 10 lessons learned about dealing with and overcoming church cliques:
1) Cliques are quick and easy to form and will help you feel good in the short term. However the long term effects will stunt your growth as an individual and leave you and your church limited to those whom you consider “in”.
2) Cliques are destructive for the growth of members your church. Loving people when they do what you want and then pushing them away when they disagree sends mixed signals to others whom should only receive love.
3) If you look for the support of certain individuals only then you have likely formed a clique without even realizing it.
4) If people deliberately exclude people intentionally then it is a clique. If you believe people do not have a right to contribute because of something that led you to cut them out then a division has formed and a clique is upon you.
5) Cliques drive away people more frequently than any other kind of problem. More issues come about in the imagination of others whom are feeling the pressure from cliques more than actual pressure from any one individual.
6) God did not form cliques. God formed churches with no respect of person and equality for the body. God essentially modeled the church as an anti-clique!
7) If jealousy and emotions drive the motives of an individual to work against others and not for them then whom you are recruiting to accomplish your will is a clique.
8) The best way to eliminate a clique forming in church business is to have transparency in all tasks and invite everyone to participate.
9) A good method of promoting fellowship in your church is to allow a time for people to interact with one another.
10) The ultimate clique-killer is loving everyone as you love yourself and making sure everyone around you feels just as accepted as the people you like the most.
I leave you with three powerful scriptures you can use as teaching points:
16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.
1 Corinthians 1:10
10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
2 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.