I didn’t plan for my post: Do you see a crowd or do you see “the one”? to become the first in a series of related posts, but it has turned out that way! I thought the “doing” vs “being” post got to the core issue. It seems that our emphasis on small groups and community can sometimes backfire. Things turn inward and a church can become like a group of cliques.
Which brings me around to a post over at Finding Rest entitled: Church Cliques: Sunday Morning’s The Breakfast Club. I hope you’ll take a moment to read it, as the author Karen isn’t lecturing but speaking from the heart. Too many people have not found the church a very hospitable community. Here is an excerpt from her post:
Too often we leave the job of hospitality, of friendliness and inclusiveness, to someone else…Just like high school, we walk into church and sit with our same friends in our same section…We assign people to groups, we divide by difference and common interests…Many times we have “community groups” and we don’t want new people to join because a new person will “mess up the dynamics.” The excuse many of us Christians make (when we are aware of our actions) is that “even Jesus himself had a close, inner circle.” We argue that we can’t be close friends with everyone…Those things are true.
But we are to befriend the outcast too. And if we are honest with ourselves, sometimes we simply don’t want to. It takes energy and effort to befriend new people. It takes risk. And we are about our wants. We want to sit with our clique, the friends that make us feel loved…
Some people are desperate for community. They are searching for friendship, and they have come to the church, the place where we should be the most friendly, where they should be most welcome. They’ve come half-way. They’ve done their part in trying something new, being vulnerable, walking into an unknown. Now it is time for us to do our part and say, “You are welcome in this place.”
Our cliques, be it intentional or unintentional, are a contradictory representation of the inclusiveness, warmth, and sacrificial love of Jesus.
I hope you’ll read Karen’s thoughts in their entirety over on her blog. I noted how Karen said “when we are aware of our actions” and “intentional or unintentional.” Sometimes we just don’t realize we’ve become cliquey or exclusive, and I hope these posts might be a wake up call of sorts. Yet, this isn’t meant to be a guilt trip (and guilt rarely brings lasting change anyways). Lets look to Jesus and be reminded of his sacrificial life and love for others. He is our example, our only hope for change, and seeing people through HIS eyes makes all the difference.