10 Ways to Stop Cliques from Ruining Your Church

10 Ways to Stop Cliques from Ruining Your Church

I was never part of the popular group at school, but I also never had a desire to be part of a popular group. I was content with my group of friends and our experiences. As an individual, I’ve always had a need to get to know people – to understand what makes them tick and to know their story. But whether I was part of a group or not, I liked knowing that I belonged, that I fit in, even if I was a loner.

Because the church is a welcoming place for everyone, we often assume that everyone will be hospitable, receptive and open forming one big happy family. Cliques are only called cliques when their sole intent is to exclude others -- and many of the cliques that exist today within the church form along cultural lines.

Moving across the country and going through the process of finding a new church home refined my thoughts on dealing with isolation caused by cliques within a church. If groups naturally form because of similar interests, hopefully, that group is always open for growth or multiplication. But, in the event there are cliques at your church, here are 10 ways to stop cliques from ruining your church from the organization’s, the insider’s and the outsider’s viewpoint.

  • 1. Every One of Us Plays a Part

    1. Every One of Us Plays a Part

    We are all image bearers of God and therefore all serve a valuable role within God’s body. Each person is purposefully included in this kingdom mission and therefore we each have a responsibility to each other. When cliques arise, be proactive and dismantle them before they become problematic. It’s not just about inviting people into the circle, but remembering that we are a body, a structure where all parts are valued, and not a hierarchy of “who’s who”. 

  • 2. Model Community from the Pulpit

    2. Model Community from the Pulpit

    Leadership is the most visible part of the church structure for members and outsiders. The entire church is responsible but it is obvious when leadership falls into the monotony of clique culture because it impacts the entire body. Statements are made from the pulpit that only the inner group would know and no effort is made to explain or clarify. When leaders allow members to put them on a pedestal and create an unnecessary atmosphere of exclusion it hinders the effectiveness of the body as a whole. 

  • 3. Be Friendly to All Not Just to Some

    3. Be Friendly to All Not Just to Some

    Do not grow weary of doing good, for in due season you will reap your harvest. You cannot just check off the life-long commandment of being communal by being friendly to some folks at one point in time. Let’s not be like Saul (1 Samuel 15) where we assume we are “obeying” God but our obedience is obviously tilted to our own standards. Go before God and ask God to lead you as you love your community.

  • 4. Real Cliques Cause Division

    4. Real Cliques Cause Division

    Groups of friends don’t cause division, cliques do. Cliques tend to have some hoop you have to jump through in order to get in; they exist based on conditions. Perhaps you’ll only fit in if you work outside the home. You shouldn’t have to strategize in order to have authentic relationships with people in your church as you are not at church to chase the approval of other people. Genuine relationships can’t occur in that kind of atmosphere. 

  • 5. Reach Out

    5. Reach Out

    If you find yourself entrenched within a group or group mentality is wearing your down, reach out to someone new. It’s really that simple. You can initiate the culture change, all it takes is one person. Remember when you felt lonely at a church even though the atmosphere was friendly? It probably was because no one took the time to really get to know you. If you’re in a clique, reach out to others.

  • 6. You May be Hindering Your Destiny

    6. You May be Hindering Your Destiny

    A lot like Jonah when he refused to go to Nineveh, you have no idea how God is trying to expand the kingdom through you. The person on the outside, maybe the key to a professional breakthrough, maybe the person who should be a mentor to you, or maybe the best friend that you have been searching for. Don’t block your destiny.

  • 7. Change Your Mindset.

    7. Change Your Mindset.

    As the outsider, after church on Sundays what you perceive may not be a reality. Instead of thinking everyone is in a group, try to connect. He who has friends must show himself friendly. (Proverbs 18:24) So take the risk, say hi, mention a tidbit about yourself and then wait for the other person to do the same. Do this every Sunday for a month. I can almost guarantee that after a while you both will be looking for each other after church.

  • 8. Take the Next Step

    8. Take the Next Step

    Invite someone over for dinner or meet for coffee. Join a Bible study not only with the intent to learn but to also share and connect. Fellowship removes cliques and it reminds us that we’re all fellows in a ship doing life together.

  • 9. Don’t Focus on Your Differences

    9. Don’t Focus on Your Differences

    If I attend a church whose members are primarily Chinese, because I am not Chinese I will initially feel left out as their culture is different from mine. But if I’m friendly and connect with one person, I will discover that we eat many of the same foods, as a wife we have similar feelings and as a female we both like to dress nicely. With this mindset, I would have rediscovered a huge truth: we are more similar than we are different.

  • 10. Be Different

    10. Be Different

    If cliques truly do exist where you are determine never to be a part of one. Lovingly confront cliques by introducing different people to different groups. Be different, embrace all and love and accept all like Jesus did. Sometimes it’s out of our pain that we have the greatest impact.

    Nylse is a Christian wife and a mother of four who loves life and inspiring others. She likes to have fun but is very clear on who she is and Whose she is. A prolific thinker, she blogs to encourage others from a Christian perspective at www.lifenotesencouragement.com. She can be found online on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest, and also be reached via email at nylse.esahc@gmail.com.