6.01.2005

...and another thing

This was going to be a rant. But I thought better of it. Instead, how 'bout a cyber discussion: What should be the general course of action by the church regarding cliques (within the church)? Are they identifiable by any common characteristics? Should a given church body resist them? If so, how? Does the "In Christ there is no Jew or Greek..." verse have anything to do with cliques? Or is the whole notion of exclusivity simply part of being human (part of our biology, so to speak) and therefore an unavoidable reality, neither addressed by Scripture nor prohibited/discouraged/frowned upon by the church? Any takers?

11 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

e

here are my few thoughts...

i have been accused of being in the "popular crowd". i dread this label. i try to make myself approachable to anyone regardless of background, label etc. the difficulty i have is that to geeks i am popular, to jocks, i am popular, but to hippie types and the anti-republican crowd, i am wally cleaver. this makes me smile and nod looking forward to a day cliques wont matter...

christian cliques to me are contrary to the bible. however, what one person decides as an insider/outside varies based on circumstances. ex., at my church, i think most people would fit a "conservative christian" label based on their fiscal ideas, but "liberal christian" on their social beliefs. you and ray had a great sequence thread on this months ago.

mtg

6/01/2005 11:59 AM  
Blogger brian estabrook said...

The basic problem with cliques is this:

They inherently value one characteristic or trait over another. This trait or characteristic has no intrinsic value that makes it 'better' in a spiritual sense than any other. So, when we start to see 'built-in value' in a certain trait, we're also devaluing those things that others bring to the table.

How is this different from being naturally drawn to a certain group of people?

Well, this is a tougher answer to pin down.

Can you be drawn to certain people and yet not value them over others? I certainly believe this is a 'yes'.

Am I able to flesh out the specifics of this 'yes' response? Not sure.

How does it work practically? Good luck.

I'll think some more about it and get back with you.

6/01/2005 12:53 PM  
Blogger Scott Sloan said...

E, sometimes the size of the church, and how a church is structured can create cliques. If a church has homegroups, people only congregate and build strong, deep friendships within that homegroup. It's difficult for them to branch out beyond their homegroup.

The goal would be to invite people to your homegroup so that no one can be left out, but that usually does not happen.

6/02/2005 6:59 AM  
Blogger Gregg said...

The verse in Galatians that deals with Jews and Greeks is in the context of what is necessary for salvation. The text from Colossians has to do with the characteristics of God's people.

So, what are the characteristics of cliques? Do they refuse to allow or make it difficult for anyone to enter their group? Or are they just people that have a common interest?

I am not sure if the texts addresses this directly, but we do know from scripture that Jesus requires that we give up our lives and in return accept the life of the kingdom, the life of submission to Christ. So, to have interests, to hang out with people who have the same interests, and even to feel more comfortable iwith those people is fine, I think. To exclude people or discourage people from being part of the group is wrong. It is not the way of God's kingdom, which should be a Christian's way, too.

I don't think there should be exclusion or discouragment of people from entering a group. There are exceptions. For example, I wouldn't include a female in a guys cigar and beer night and Paul talks about fellowship and people in sin. But other than situations like that, I don't think it should happen. Feeling more comfortable with one type of person over another is natural but I think it should be something that want to grow in. One of the ways that these barriers are torn down is through service. You can bring two different types of groups together for a common task like handing out food, cleaning up a park, moving people, or doing yardwork for disabled neighbors and very often walls are torn down quickly.

I think as Christians, no matter what our interests are, we should want to move to new levels of openness and compassion for those different from us (see Jeff Cannell).

6/02/2005 1:24 PM  
Blogger Jeff Cannell said...

Perhaps the question could be reworded to ask how we can address the natural human inclination to create a comfort zone of relationship where we no longer feel the need to connect with others outside of that group. THe great commission at its core is about moving past our comfort zones. I think this is an issue for all people, of all age groups, in all church cultures. THe opposite of clique's is welcoming. Welcoming is cultivated like prayer, reflection on scripture, etc- it is cultivated- slowly - intentionally - and with much fear and trembing.

6/04/2005 9:55 AM  
Blogger e said...

I like what Jeff said. And that helps summarize the whole issue: the gospel is about including more than excluding. So followers of the gospel should be about "the Father's business" of including.

Part of the reason we want to include, or want to be included, must be some innate desire to have people around us we can trust, be ourselves with, laugh with, etc. This must be a good thing--to want to be included/to include. But it seems that, like anything else, it can be made "not good." When in our desire to be included ourselves that we stop including others. But even this seems like a bit of a false position: when do Christians intentionally exclude? Rarely, it seems.

And yet people do get excluded in the Church. Frequently.

In my mind this exclusion becomes possible when: (1) people lose the acute felt sense that they need to include others in order to be following the Way of the Kingdom and (2) qualifiers about who's "in" or "out" fall along seemingly superficial lines.

It seems to me we are more likely to exclude people who have little to offer the church in the way of abilities (e.g., those who can't play guitar or sing), who have social standing that appears transitory or makes an individual less likely to commit to a particular church (e.g., single people), and those who question the status quo in a given church.

I like another thing Jeff said: welcoming is cultivated by prayer and meditation.

If I could be so bold, I would suggest that prayer and meditation itself is often instigated by an acute felt need for something. We pray for friendships when we move somewhere new and have no friends, for instance. I wonder what activities can be engaged in at a small group or whole church level that can lead to a sense of felt need for relationships.

6/05/2005 2:34 PM  
Blogger e said...

I would also add that it seems to me that the "in crowd"--those who are rich in relationships and being included in things--especially need to take it upon themselves to include.

To those who have been given much, much will be expected from them. When we quote this passage we usually focus on those who have material wealth. But that seems like too shallow an interpretation. God demands of us even our desire to be included and our talent at making friends.

6/05/2005 2:39 PM  
Blogger Jeff Cannell said...

It might also be helpful to add that an unfortunate symptom of the brokeness of many is an innability or unwillingness to respond to welcoming while still feeling "left out" or "excluded." I cannopt count how often I have been personally rebuffed by people who later have claimed to be excluded. Unhealed wounding can often perpetuate lack of connection.

This topic is extrordinarily timely for me.

John Wimber had many teachings about the tendency of "primary groups" to form in churches. I'll work on dusting those off and see if I can glean some insights.

BTW- you word things so well Erik- I will probably end up plagarizing you.

COntent Copyright 2005 J.A.C.

6/07/2005 11:45 AM  
Blogger e said...

dude.... far be it from me to ever say anything useful. But if i did, it wouldn't be stealing to use it again.

the only sinning going on here is me coveting your vespa.

6/07/2005 7:21 PM  
Blogger Jeff Cannell said...

it is a sexy ride . . .

you can join our scooter clique if you would like.

Jeff

6/09/2005 3:31 PM  
Blogger e said...

can i can i!>?!?!

do you have to have a scooter to join?
do you have to have cool scooter lingo?
do you have to know the password?

6/10/2005 1:12 PM  

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