Cliques are a reality for our students in their schools and community. Unfortunately, it is often a reality they face at church too. Cliques are the enemy of healthy community and ultimately the enemy of students hearing God’s best for them. When students don’t feel relationally comfortable, they are less likely to relate to God’s truth. Here are 7 priorities I am constantly working on to avoid cliques in my ministry.
1. Cast vision—It’s important to constantly compare and contrast a vision for healthy community compared to painful reality of cliques. This can be done through intentional messages but also weekly in announcements. It’s imperative to constantly paint a picture of a community where students can feel safe and belong.
2. Know the difference between Comfort and Clique—Some student groups could be described as a clique, when in fact they are simply too comfortable to be aware of others. A clique is defined as, “a small, exclusive group of people” (dictionary.com). It’s important to discern whether students are intentionally exclusive or just missing the point. The way to respond to comfortable students is quite different from clique-y ones.
3. Understand cliques—It’s easy to get frustrated by students who are intentionally clique-y. However, it’s important to remind ourselves that many of them find security in keeping others out. Most cliques, in my experience, are comprised of insecure kids trying to control their environment.