I personally need to be part of a clique in the church
Here is another pastor’s wife confession that might get me into a little bit of hot water. You guys… I just claimed that I need a clique… in church! I would go as far as to say that it’s important to have cliques in the church, not just for me, but for everyone. I realize that some of you had feelings of anger boil up when you saw that statement; for others that made you cringe. It brings up memories of the stuck up group… people having fun without you… Or the time that you didn’t get the inside joke… or flashbacks of the mean girls in high school. Trust me, I know. I have been there more times then I’d like to admit. I am human, and frequently an insecure one, even if it doesn’t show on my face.
Please hear me out
I have literally assigned someone the job of keeping the fun level down when I leave a party. I did it as a joke, but there is a little bit of truth to that. I don’t want to miss out. The inside joke might come about right after I leave. They might get into some deep conversation and bond in some new way.
What if I am left out?
What if everyone bonds without me?
What if I am left out of the “clique”?
I think if we are honest with ourselves, WE ALL NEED A CLIQUE… that is what is at the heart of this.
I chose to use the word “clique” instead of “close friendships” because that is the word I hear used the most at church. It’s the biggest complaint I hear from women (The church is too cliquey), and it breaks my heart. And, to be really honest, it kinda ticks me off because I don’t think it’s true. Sometimes what is perceived as a “clique” isn’t a clique at all. But, it quickly becomes one when people start gossiping and turning others against those in that so-called “clique.” I think what people really want is close friendships. I know I do! And sometimes what we call a clique is actually just a group of people who have built close friendships.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t maintain close friendships with 400 people
You guys, friendships take time and work. While I would love to know every person in my church deeply, it is not possible. I don’t know about you, but I can’t maintain close friendships with 400 people. I have a husband, children, and a job that requires my time. At this stage of my life, I only have so much to give before I want to curl into the fetal position and cry because I am sucking at every roll to which God called me. I am only one person in the body of Christ.
We need a safe place to be our authentic selves
There are people in our church congregations who belong to small groups together; they live in community with each other; they serve in different ministries together; they support and pray for one another. These are all positive things. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, community provides elements that are critical to our mental health. Having friends we can be our authentic selves with is not just healthy, but necessary to our wellbeing. Humans need people who know who we really are and still love us anyway. The church should be a place that we are allowed to find this.
As a pastor’s wife, I feel like I am not allowed to have friends at church
If I go out with a small group of friends from church, I don’t ever post pictures of it on social media. I am so worried about hurting the feelings of someone who wanted to go but did not get an invite. I don’t want to give the perception that I am part of a “clique.” Believe me, when I say, I’m not trying to tell people to “get over it.” I really do care about those feelings of loneliness and isolation. I have never in my life felt more lonely or isolated than I have as a pastor’s wife. Part of it is because of this very reason. We’re not supposed to have “cliques.”
We need to be careful not to confuse friendships with cliques
One observation that I have made is that a new person can show up to church one Sunday, go to a bible study, join a small group, start serving, and instantly become part of the church family. I am shocked when I find out that they had only been at the church for a couple of months when I see how integrated into the life of the church they are. There are individual personalities that are better at plugging themselves in. They take the initiative, and the church welcomes them with open arms. Somehow they make it into these so-called “cliques in the church.”
What about the introverts? What about the wounded?
There is another group of people who show up at a new church. Maybe they have been hurt by Christians at another church; perhaps they are just struggling to feel like they fit somewhere. Maybe they aren’t wounded at all, but they are shy, and the thought of inviting themselves to something is paralyzing. As happy and outgoing as I seem, there have been times in my life that I have been this person. I have felt so down about myself that I was sure that nobody would want me there. With a public smile still on my face, I felt these feelings. These are the people that we, as a church, need to learn how to love better!
And yes… I realize that there are real jerks in the church, and sometimes the clique label is accurate, and sometimes people are intentionally treating others poorly; I don’t want to discount someone’s experience with that. But in my experience, that is not the majority.
Can we please stop calling every group of friends “cliques” in the church?
Jesus had twelve disciples that he poured into. I’m sure that those twelve men had a special bond as they studied and learned from Jesus Himself. They were there for each other’s failures and hardships. There was a unique community that they had together. Jesus didn’t keep bringing in more and more people to make sure everyone felt included.
What Jesus did do is teach them to love their neighbor… to care for the widows and orphans, to pray over the sick, and give food to the poor. He ate with sinners and loved people so much that he gave His life for theirs… for ours.
I need “my people” who already know me. Is that the same as cliques in church?
I still need those friendships who already know me… The good, the bad, and the ugly. Some people in my church have already seen me at my worst and have loved me through it. Friends who were there when my mom died or walked with Loren and me through hard times in our marriage; those people are already safe. It’s not that I don’t want to include others in my life, but sometimes I need to feel safe enough to break down. I need people who already know me that way and can encourage me. I don’t want to worry that there will be someone new there that doesn’t understand me. That is not a clique in the church; that is just friendship.
I never mean to leave people out. Friends of mine who have been called cliquey are the most loving, giving, and welcoming people I know. Sometimes what you see at church is those people investing in the close friendships that they already have. They don’t intentionally keep new people out; they simply don’t realize that someone wants in. The perception is wrong, but that doesn’t change how someone feels. As a people pleaser, I put this burden on myself often. It is so hard to feel responsible for other people’s happiness. I continually have to remind myself that I can’t take that on. But what can I do? What can we do?
What we really need is authentic friendships
For the record, I don’t think we need exclusive cliques that don’t let anyone in; that is not what I am saying. But I do believe that we need space to create authentic friendships. Those relationships require investment and time, quality time. It takes trust and vulnerability. For me, it often takes years of going through really hard things to get to that place, but I have a couple of friends I could tell were kindred spirits from the moment we met. God brings the people into my life that I need, and He can also do that for you.
Church, let’s do better
Let’s start small. Most churches have Bible studies and small groups that people can plug into… but not everyone will do it independently. Let’s start inviting people into our homes. Let’s turn our perceived cliques into smaller communities within the larger church, serving and loving those around them. Let’s find those who are afraid to join in and invite them to dinner. Let’s ask them into our imperfect homes with our Costco Rotisserie chicken and remind them that they are not alone. But, let us also cherish those few close friends who know us as we are. Let us have one coffee date with our “people” without getting judged. Maybe we will gain a few new “people” in the process.
Related Post———————->>> How To Make a Difference
My heart is a liar!
You guys, I may appear to be great because I seem to have an abundance of friends. The thing is, having friends doesn’t fix the problem. It’s a heart issue; or an emotional issue. Jeremiah 17:9 in the ESV says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” My heart always lies to me. It tells me I’m not loved, it tells me I’m not good enough, and it tells me that people are intentionally leaving me out. Just because I feel something, it doesn’t mean it’s real.
If I am PMSing and friends plan a dinner date without me, I will still go home and cry, wondering why they didn’t invite me. It took me until I reached my 40s to stop when I feel this way and consider my emotional state. If I wait two days, it goes away. I need to remind myself that it’s not about me, and I too, can invite people to dinner. When I do invite one friend and not another, I don’t love my other friends any less. I also need to remember that even when I feel unloved, I am loved by Jesus, who sees me at my worst and still loves me. That is the truth. Friends don’t fix the insecurities in me, Jesus does.
If right now, you feel like you have tried and tried, but you can’t find close friends, know you are not alone. Lysa TurKeurst wrote a fantastic book called Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, And Lonely. It is a #1 New York Times bestseller, and I highly recommend it. So many of us have struggled or now struggle with this feeling of insecurity. I believe it is part of the human condition, but we don’t have to stay there.
If you are at a place where you feel like it is your turn to step out of your comfort zone and invite someone in, here is a post on Inviting people over... you don’t have to have it all together to show hospitality <<<click here to read>>>
Pin it for later