My husband and I were visiting a church while out of town. Upon arrival we noticed very quickly we were not greeted with friendly faces. After making it inside, an elder introduced us and helped us find children's church then walked us into the sanctuary. During the meet and greet, my husband and I were greeted by the person in front of us, we turned to the person behind us, and then we stood for almost five minutes as we watched the entire sanctuary socialize with one another. Not one person approached us. After service we hung out in the coffee area as I filled out a visitor form. Again, no one but the same elder asked if we enjoyed service. Either no one noticed that we were a new family—or no one cared.
We've visited other churches where people have walked across the room to greet, so we know there are some friendly churches out there. However, I've noticed more and more that people in church usually cling to their comfort of friends and surroundings instead of expecting some poor lost soul, who needs Jesus, to walk through the doors.
What's the Prerequisite?
We have no idea why we were ignored when visiting that church. I am sure there were no personal reasons. Cliques are formed either knowingly or unknowingly and tend to ignore those who are looking for a place to call home. Church cliques have a huge impact in society as these exclusive groups weaken the kingdom of God.
Cliques can be formed in many ways, separating those deemed important from the people designated as less important. The Bible, however, teaches us how we are to treat everyone who comes into our churches:
My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others? For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand there, or else sit on the floor,”—well, doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives?” (James 2:1-4).
Our family dealt with cliques twice, and each time it started at the top—with leadership. Leaders set the tone for what is tolerated in church, and if leaders are themselves dictators of cliques then they lack Jesus' unifying power. Are leaders in the church more like Jesus or the Pharisees?