The Problem With Cliques in ChurchCliques within the church can be a huge detriment to all your ministry efforts, including spiritual growth, discipleship, community, and outreach. People can feel unloved, unnoticed, unimportant, and isolated. A church with a strong culture of cliques and an “us vs. them” mentality will likely lose many members, simply because they never felt like they fit in or could find their place within the work and mission of the church. The Bible is clear that God’s intention for the church is a multi-faceted, diverse body with no regard for discrimination:
“I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.” — 1 Corinthians 1:10Cliques do very little to further the pursuit of individual spiritual gifts or to celebrate the contributions of different perspectives, experiences, and talents. The Bible, however, emphasizes the importance of embracing our differences for the good of the whole:
“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.” — Romans 12:4-6As followers of Christ working together within the church, Jesus calls us to regard all equally with love, not elevate some above others:
“My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism.” — James 2:1So, as a leader, what can you do to break up cliques in your church? Focusing on at least three aspects of operations can help disband cliques that have taken hold among your members and help prevent exclusive cliques from forming in the first place: communication, inclusion, identity.
1) Open the Lines of Communication to Break Up Church Cliques
Sometimes cliques form because there’s simply a lack of communication among the church body. If members don’t know about opportunities to engage and participate, then they are less likely to join, right? Keeping these opportunities a secret almost guarantees that the same folks will remain in their comfortable routines.
If you need a robust tool for communicating to the entire congregation, you should check out a ChMS like Realm. It’s an all-encompassing church management system that makes communication almost effortless. Realm keeps communication lines wide open—among staff, among members, and between staff and members.
The Church Calendar shows members a personalized event list with a mixture of churchwide events and any events that are specific to any groups the member is in.
2) Make Sure Everyone Feels Included and Has a Place to Belong
Who is slipping through the cracks at your church? One effective method for breaking up cliques is to make sure you’re helping everyone to get plugged in.
Realm is a great tool for keeping up with member participation and making sure everyone finds a place to flourish.
Realm’s Attendance Dashboard gives you immediate insight into attendance patterns, with the ability to pivot on date ranges, campuses, ministry areas, demographic attributes, and much more. Notice patterns among certain members or groups? Perhaps it’s time to reach out to check on those members.
Create custom discipleship Pathways to manage any process—especially those to help ensure members are becoming fully integrated into the life and ministry of the church. Whether it’s visitor follow-up, new member education, personalized discipleship, or volunteer training, Realm lets you define and oversee the steps, activities, and outcomes of any process.
Realm can even help you create groups based on certain member characteristics. You’d probably expect to use software to find members with things in common. But what about putting people together who have little in common? With Realm, you can break up those expected affinity groups and create new ones full of people who may otherwise not meet one another.
3) Create a Place to Know and Be Known
A church leader once encouraged me to learn the names of every child in every family in the church. Why? Because “you can’t know their hearts if you don’t know their names.”
Cliques thrive when there’s a lack of interpersonal interaction and a culture of anonymity.
The Church Directory in Realm is an invaluable tool for knowing and being known. Realm lists members with their pictures so users can quickly put names with faces. It’s easy to reach out from the Directory, as contact info is listed alongside family members’ names.
As a leader in the church, you can reference all sorts of info on members and their families with the Profiles tool in Realm. Never be caught off guard when meeting someone in the hall. A quick check on Realm and your memory will be jogged. Best of all, the church community will become more connected and more cohesive.