Birds of a feather flock together: that is a scientific facts. If you’ve ever sat in a deer stand on the edge of a corn field in the late fall, you’ve see formations of geese in their easily recognizable V formation making an annual trek south. Likewise you can see flocks of swallows and the occasional pairing of mourning doves as they dart to and fro through the light hazel sky. Birds do indeed stick close to their own.
This same phenomenon occurs quite often in the local assembly of believers. However, we do no say that people hang out in flocks, we call this phenomenon by a particular word, “clique”. A clique can be described as a small subculture within a culture, that is exclusive in nature.
People naturally form cliques based on a number of criteria: income, social outlets, kids, recreation, or any number of other factors. Basically, we like to hang out with people who have in common our likes and dislikes and those things which are important to us. Sounds like a good thing, right? It can be in some settings, but not the church. Here are 5 reasons why:
1- Because the Gospel calls us the be the same. You mean we are not called to be different? Yes and no. We are called to be different from the world, but not from each other. Paul reminds the church in the book of Philippians that they are to be of the same mind and of one accord (Phil. 2:2). When we form subcultures in the church, we dismiss this important principle. What do we demonstrate to brand new believers about the Gospel when we only associate in a subculture? That being like minded really means just like us.
2-Because we cannot do what we are called to do in the proper context. In Colossians 3:16 Paul reminds the church that one of our greatest ministries is not to the world, but each other. We are to encourage and admonish each other, lifting each other up. However, if we only hang out in our subcultures, that will become a pointless pursuit. We don’t encourage nearly as many people as we should.
3- Because the Gospel isn’t exclusive. Think about that for a moment: who is the Gospel for? Is the Gospel only for one certain part of the culture, or for the entire culture. If the Gospel is for everyone, we ought to be everyone kinds of people. If we only hang out in certain subcultures, we will eventually only feel comfortable evangelizing in our subculture. This makes us crippled missionaries.
4- Because the Imago Dei is proliferated throughout all cultures. There is inherent value in every culture, not just some. We may only feel that some subcultures are truly worthy, but God sees all culture as valuable for the same reason: not because we are anything special, but because God created us, in His image. Those other people in our church bear the equal image of God.
5-Because subcultures do not exist in Heaven. Yes, you heard me correct. In Heaven there will not be any distinct groups. There won’t be the mommy club, the men’s club, the young adults club or senior adult club. There will be complete equity among all people.
So how can we tell if we are in a clique? Ask yourself these questions:
Do I only sit with the same people during the service? If you can say yes, you might be in a clique.
Who do I sit with during social events (meals and other gatherings)? If I only hang out with the same people during those times, I’m probably in a clique.
When going places with the church, do you strategically plan so that you spend the bulk of your time with people you have pre chosen? Do you plan your seating on the bus, you seating in a restaurant or other activities so that things work out in your favor? If so-> clique.
Do you always go to lunch with the same group after church, without attempting to do something with someone new or different? That’s a good sign of a clique.
Do you only carry on communication outside of church services with a small handful of people, have only the same people over for dinner, find that you can name less than 30 people in the church you do things with? Clique.
This week, make it a mission to better represent the Gospel. Look at others, make them part of your life and expand your area of influence. Break free from the clique.