In today’s world, it’s easy to feel disconnected from others. We often find ourselves wrapped up in our own lives, our own worries and concerns, and forget the importance of community. This is especially true in our churches, where cliques can form and people can feel unwelcome.
Throughout the Bible, we are shown time and time again that being in a clique and ignoring others is not only wrong, but it is also damaging to both ourselves and those around us.
The bible teaches us to be loving to everyone we come across.
Take, for example, the story of the Good Samaritan. In this parable, we see a man who is beaten and left for dead on the side of the road. As he lay there, two religious leaders pass him by without offering any help. It is only when a Samaritan, an outsider in this particular community, comes along that the man is shown compassion and care.
This story teaches us that we should not only be willing to help those in need, but we should also be willing to put aside our differences and prejudices to do so.
Another example can be found in the book of James. Here, we are told that showing favoritism towards certain individuals based on their wealth or status is a sin. Instead, we are called to treat all people with fairness and respect, regardless of their social standing.
And let us not forget the words of Jesus himself, who taught us to love our neighbors as ourselves. This commandment is not limited to those who are like us or who belong to our particular group. Rather, it encompasses all people, regardless of their race, social status or any other factor.
It is therefore clear that we must remember that being in a clique and ignoring others is not only morally wrong, but it goes against the very teachings of the Bible. Let us strive to be inclusive, compassionate, and loving towards all people, just as we have been called to do. But how can we achieve this? How can we make people feel more welcome at church and stop cliques from forming?
How to not be so cliquey?
To stop cliques from forming, it is important to create a culture of inclusivity and kindness from the top down. This means that the leaders of the church should set the example by welcoming everyone and encouraging members to do the same. Church members should be encouraged to step out of their comfort zones and interact with people they don’t know during church activities. This can be achieved through icebreakers or other activities that promote fellowship among members of different ages, backgrounds, and interests.
Organizing events that bring the congregation together is also a great way to promote inclusivity. These events should be designed to cut across age groups and interests, and should be open to everyone. By creating small groups or teams that are assigned randomly or through a matching system, members are forced to interact with people they may not have met otherwise. It is also important to keep a record of who attends events and to follow up with those who may have been left out in the past. By doing so, everyone feels valued and included.
If cliques do form, it is important to address them directly. Leaders should talk to the members involved and make it clear that such behaviour is not acceptable in a church community.
What can we do as individuals to help others feel more welcomed at church?
As individuals there are plenty of things that WE can do on our own to make people feel more welcome and part of the Christian community.
Greet newcomers and introduce them to others. Embrace people from all walks of life, and make a conscious effort to seek out those who may feel left out or marginalized. Be honest and transparent about your life with others and don’t be a closed book. This will help create an atmosphere of openness and trust, and help people feel comfortable sharing their own experiences and beliefs.
Make a point of showing a genuine interest in peoples their lives when you talk to them. Ask questions about their experiences and beliefs, and make an effort to connect with them on a personal level.
Another step is to be a better listener. Instead of waiting for your turn to speak, really listen to what others have to say. Show a genuine interest in their lives and experiences. Avoid judgment and instead show empathy and kindness towards others. This will help create a sense of trust and understanding, and help break down barriers that may exist.
It’s also important to be understanding and forgiving towards others. We all have different opinions and beliefs, and it’s important to respect and accept those differences. If someone says something that you disagree with, try to rebuke them in a kind way to help them better understand the real truth of the Bible. This is a far better strategy than shouting them down, which will only push them further away.
You can also help foster a sense of community by organizing social events and activities for church members, which will help you to keep in contact with people outside of church services….
You should seek to maintain meaningful connections with the people, beyond just brief interactions before and after church services. Taking the time to meet up with other church members mid-week can provide opportunities for deeper conversations and a chance to truly connect. Whether it’s over coffee, lunch or a phone call, regular communication can lead to stronger relationships and a greater sense of community. So, make it a point to keep in contact with people and nurture those relationships. The effort will be well worth it.
Finally, be open to feedback and suggestions for improvement from others in the church community. This will help create a sense of community ownership and involvement, and help ensure that everyone feels valued and included.
By being a better listener, showing empathy and kindness, encouraging inclusivity and diversity, creating a welcoming atmosphere, and being understanding and forgiving, we can help break down barriers and build deeper connections with others.
In conclusion, cliques have no place in a church community. By creating a culture of inclusivity and kindness, organizing events that bring the congregation together, and addressing cliques directly, leaders as well as individual church members can ensure that everyone feels valued and included. May we all be inspired by the examples set forth in the Bible and work towards creating a world that is more accepting and understanding of all.