I have observed cliques in my various ministries whether I ministered to college students, women, youth, small parishes, big parishes, and Dioceses. Cliques inside a church starts innocently as a community striving for holiness. In a matter of time an elite metamorphosis begins to occur. When a body of believers becomes exclusive they begin to segregate themselves from the rest of the community. When this process begins, evangelism is halted. Instead of the church being open, inviting and sharing the good news to all, it becomes exclusive. The Kingdom of God is open to all sinners and saints.
It is important to recognize and do what is necessary to halt the cliques when it comes knocking on our church doors because we have all experienced the following at one time or another in our lives:
We are all a work in progress.
From time to time in our life we have experienced not fitting in and isolation.
Not one person is holier by belonging to an elite community in a church.
If one does not attend a gathering of an elite event this does not make them less holy.
Jesus, Himself experienced exclusiveness as He walked the earth. The New Testament overflows with evidence that the ministry of the Lord Jesus and the entire approach of the New Covenant is Inclusive. Just as the Pharisees sought to exclude, Jesus sought to include. (Matthew 18:12)
Fr. Robert Barron stated in his Lenten devotion, “Jesus is a cosmic warrior who has come to do battle with all of those forces that keep us from being fully alive. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus deals with the effects of death and a death-obsessed culture: violence, hatred, egotism, exclusion, false religion, phony community. But the last enemy, he must face down is death itself.”
Communal is what God bids His people too. Now is the time to bust apart the death obsessed culture and open the walls of the church. A time to make a healthy communal church in which there is a passion to know God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit for all. Being an inclusive church everyone has an opportunity to strive for holiness. Every soul affirmed and welcomed in an inclusive Church. No one is better than another, and no one feels less than another.
It will be quite difficult to keep up a communal goal since we may have to stretch outside our comfort zones. Another difficulty churches face is their various communities in the Church: such as a staff, a men’s group, a women’s group, youth group, a young an adult group, a children’s group, small groups, prayer groups, Bible study groups, etc. The key to maintaining healthy groups is that all groups focus on a central point, with a message of communal mission pointing all to Jesus.
It is not a matter of if, but a matter of when any one of the groups start focusing exclusively. When this happens it will be time to witness to the group and realign the mission of communal and inclusive. Do not wait until the community becomes a clique. Hold on to a proactive leadership approach in your Church through prayer and holding all groups accountable to include others to the communal mission of Jesus Christ.
Jesus gave up His life for all, not just an elite group. In fact, even if you were the only one, He would have died on the cross just for you. With Easter a week away, why not begin your Communal goal in your Church, and open wide the doors for all to experience God’s mercy!