Cliques are cancer.
Cliques in church are Stage 4 – remove everything before the cancer spreads but you still die anyway – cancer.
Cliques in church are even worse than Christian labels. However, they do go hand in hand. One compliments the other, which is why I covered Christian labels in my last post that you can find here.
We hear and use the word “clique”; and we think we know what it means but really, we don’t. If we all really knew what a clique was, as Christians, we probably wouldn’t want to be part of them.
Okay, so lets look at the definition of “clique“:
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.
I put that word into the Google© and that is the definition I got. I didn’t have to search hard for a definition that is contrary to the character of Christ. The definition seems innocent at first, right?
“A small group of people.” Okay, yeah I can understand this.
“With Shared interests or other features in common.” Looks good to me!
“Who spend time together.” I like it…
“And do not readily allow others to join them…”
<insert record scratch noise here>
Obviously, the definition of clique, pretty much leaves Jesus out of the picture. But, like everything else in the church, it is somehow okay to do whatever, as long as you are a Christian and do it with other Christians. People are sinners, they are going to naturally sin; and cliques just happen to be part of that nature.
There are tons of cliques that happen within the four walls of our church. Sometimes, people of different ethnicity form cliques. They might do this because they have language barriers. Other times, cliques form because of small groups like: Singles, Marrieds, Ex-Addicts, etc. These sorts of cliques in the church aren’t harmful as they are sometimes necessary in order to accomplish a specific task in a specific ministry.
Then there are what I like to call, the “evil three“, that can be stopped; which pose the most harmful to the church and I will briefly go over those. These three are the ones I constantly see formed in the church; and they are also the cliques that cause division. They can even push someone to leave the church or Christianity entirely.
I know numerous of people who hate church because of these very problems. Every “atheist” I’ve ever known claims to have attended church or is an “ex-Christian”. They always, without fail, blame the church and how they were treated by the church for their disposition.
These guys are the “manly men” in church; the rugged men. Nothing wrong with that, they are Christian men after all. Being part of their clique is like a fraternity. These guys usually will size you up and figure out what guy can rough and tough it and what guy can’t.
They have their own men’s studies (usually “accountability groups”). They don’t include the other guys, just their “accountability partners” that go on fishing trips and whatever other “dude,bro” activity there is out there.
The bad part about this clique, is that it leaves guys divided in the church. Men, most of all, cannot be divided in church. It’s a recipe for disaster and this kind of behavior causes huge factions. As far as calling them “Brokeback Mountain Men“…judge me all you want. I’ve never been on these trips, who knows what goes on.
This clique cannot be stopped – it naturally forms in church. Women can be cruel to men, but to each other, well, ever see the fur balls left after a cat fight? Pretend those fur balls are emotions and kibbles of someone’s heart.
I am 1000000000% sure if I was to talk to any Christian woman, at random, about cliques in church; they would tell me some story about how bad they were treated by cliques of women who claimed to be Christians. These are the worst kinds of cliques because each one is like a “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” club. Here is a nice list of some I’ve seen:
Whenever I’ve encountered people in church (usually couples) who have left their previous, it usually isn’t because they decided to leave their entire ministry at their other church – because it wasn’t hipster enough (which I’ve seen happen too). No, usually it is because they’ve been wronged by someone and it hurts too much to keep going.
This one. This is a bad one. I would say of the “evil three”, this is the worst one. I would even venture to say this is the “atheist converter”. This is the top reason people leave the church. The gung-ho people for Jesus in ministry that run in the polar opposite direction when their clique abandons them.
Look at that picture above. All of those happy faces. Too bad, their club is full. Yeah, that is how it goes. Now, there will be an opening soon when one of them gets caught in some kind of sin (probably sexual) and then that person is shunned. Shunned, rather than pulled out of the mud like the Bible says to do.
The worst part about this clique is that you don’t realize you were even in a clique. You thought it was a ministry. The distressing part is realizing none of these people really cared about you as a human being, only as a “sinless” Christian in their special people club. I have seen this happen over and over again. Not just to me, but to others too. People who I respected and regarded as good Christians who took a big fall. They fell and everyone ran. It’s like one of those stage divers expecting the crowd to catch them; then they don’t.
With this clique, you can forget about James 5:16. Transparency with sin causes ministry clique people to shutter. Many of these are people spend all of their time hiding their sin in order to over expose others.
Wrapping it all up this week, first with Christian labeling and then with cliques in the church; it is safe to say that none of us are without error. All of us have our faults. However, as Christians, we have to be above reproach in everything. More so when it comes to creating conflict or discord among the people we intend on spending an eternity with (Phil. 2:14-15). We need to know it’s not all about us. Christians can’t pick and choose which sister or brother they do and don’t like. It is absolute sin; but even more tragic when it is someone who is in a ministry. Someone who claims to be such a godly person leading youth, or singles, or married couples, or entire churches – then to disregard a person or people and forming a clique. It’s pure evil. It’s the devil doing his best work, lest we forget the scriptures:
“If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”
–1 John 4:20 (ESV)