This is the 3rd post in the “How dare you say we are not friendly” theme. A comment after the last post said that “So many just drifted away” from the cliquish churches. And this got me thinking…
This is another reason church leaders (whether pastoral staff or lay leaders) should pay attention when there are complaints of cliquishness. Many will not say anything and just quietly drift away -or- they will use some other excuse as an easy out. The few who take the time to voice concern likely represent a larger group.
I used to judge people who quietly left a situation (whether the church itself or just a small group within the church) without explaining why or without trying to bring change. I am a “fighter” type – you gotta try! But age and experience bring wisdom, or perhaps just the voice of reality. A couple times in the past, our diplomatic attempts to share concern was very defensively received – my first post is reflective of that. Voicing our concerns was a waste of time. We were not heard, and only blamed. The “drift quietly away method” is more understandable to me now.
One quick point….Leaders set the tone or atmosphere of a church. They really do. Are they modeling friendly behavior and shepherding care? If they are, this is likely to influence the church members in the same direction. My personal experience is that the size of a church has little to do with its friendliness and genuine outreach. There are unfriendly small churches and friendly big churches, and vice versa. While it is easier to get lost in the crowd of a big church, I generally find that size has little to do with it.
Something I’ve observed at churches (of whatever size) that have a more friendly and non-cliquey atmosphere is a “visible presence” of leadership. For example, before the service starts pastoral staff and lay leaders are roaming about the sanctuary – shaking hands and greeting people here and there. They are a visible presence.
In close, here are two past posts that you might want to check out…
- Drawing people into the life of the church. This post has practical ideas for how to greet and approach visitors or those on the sidelines of your church…and draw them in to church life.
- The next post on “shepherding” has more practical ideas. Even after someone has begun to assimilate into the church, we don’t want to forget about them. Pastors, lay leaders, and church members all have a part to play in caring for each other. Too many sheep are forgotten about…or they go missing and no one notices.