Almost every Church Health Survey our consulting company does shows that church members believe their congregation has cliques. In fact, I can’t remember ever reading a survey that did not reveal that same finding. If that’s the case, how should we try to avoid cliques in our church?
- Intentionally build multigenerational fellowship. Most cliques develop along generational lines, so connecting the generations can lessen the possibility of cliques. Build small groups that include more than one generation. Join the young people and the seniors in doing projects. Connect young families with grandparent-types in the church.
- Preach about Christian unity in diversity. God uniquely and creatively puts His church together so we need each other and complement each other (1 Cor. 12). Help your church see why the “eye” needs a “foot”—and why God is glorified in the diversity of His body.
- Teach healthy steps toward reconciliation. Some cliques first develop out of conflict; that is, different groups choose opposing sides, and they each see the other as wrong. If we teach believers how to resolve conflict BEFORE they’re caught in the emotion of disagreement, perhaps they’d have fewer reasons to form cliques.
- Include longer-term members as part of your new members class. Invite some faithful members to join that class in order to (a) tell the church’s story and to (b) get to know new members. Build relationships quickly when people join your church, and you’ll help avoid cliques.
- Encourage members to sit in different places each Sunday. I’ve addressed this idea in a different post, so here’s the point: moving around allows you to get outside your comfort zone and meet new people.
- Develop a prayer ministry that connects people in different life stages. Connect young people with older people, and guide them to pray regularly for each other. Encourage married couples to pray for single adults, and vice versa. People have to get to know each other for this process to work well.
- Don’t assume that every friendship group is a clique. All of us have a naturally-developing set of friends, and we gravitate toward them with little intention of becoming a clique. That becomes a problem when we ignore or exclude others, but having friends with whom we’re closer than others is not automatically sinful.
- Emphasize and DO evangelism. This solution to the clique problem is basic: when we regularly reach out to non-believers and prayerfully lead them to Christ and the church, cliques are less likely to develop. Cliques happen when churches turn inward.
What other steps would you add?