Vol. 1 - No. 3
by Warren E. Berkley
In Webster's New International Dictionary of the English Language, “clique” is defined as “a narrow circle of persons associated by common interests or for the accomplishment of a common purpose; a small and exclusive set or coterie; generally used in a bad sense.” (page 418)
In many local churches there are cliques; small groups of people who associate with one another regularly. It would be unrealistic for me to suggest that we shouldn't have our special friends; people we may be a little closer to than others. But cliques can be very dangerous. Please consider these things:
1. Cliques Often Reflect Poor Values. They are sometimes formed among those who fall into a particular social or economic category. Or they are formed among those persons who consider themselves to be a little more “cultured” or “refined” than the others. In some cases, cliques are made up of certain members who may think that they are just a little better spiritually or more pious than the others. But money, “refinement” and self‑righteous snobbery are all poor values. (See Obadiah 3:3,4; Philippians 2:21; James 2:9 & Revelation 3:19).
2. Cliques May Foster A Sinful Exclusiveness. If, for instance, all the “wealthy” people in a congregation attract each other and evolve into a clique, what kind of attitude do you think they will develop toward those who are not “wealthy?” (See James 2:1‑13).
3. Cliques Are Detrimental To Unity. God has decreed that there be unity in local churches. (1 Corinthians 1:10; Philippians 2:1,2; Ephesians 4:1‑6) But if there is this little group over here and that little bunch over there and this other clique over here, YOU DON'T HAVE UNITY! You may have some sort of peaceful co‑existence, but no real, brotherly, Biblical unity. Consider this: If it's all right to have one little clique in a congregation, then it's all right for all the members to DIVIDE into cliques. And that isn't unity, by anyone's definition.
4. Cliques Limit Influence. If our character is such that we exert a good, positive influence on those with whom we associate, we should endeavor to associate with all our brethren in the local church, not just a few of them. Likewise, there are brethren who may have a good influence to exert on us, but it never happens because we are hid in some little group. The influence Christians in a local church can and should have on one another is hindered by the presence of cliques. (See 1 Corinthians 10:24; Hebrews 3:13 & 10: 24, 25).
So, let me make this suggestion. Go ahead and have your “special” friends; it's only natural to develop closer friendships with some people. But be very careful about the development of cliques. Put forth an effort to get acquainted with all the members; try to associate or socialize with more than just a little select group. And in forming friendships with Christians (and others), forget about such narrow values as money, educational attainment, refinement, social status, etc.
Remember, the members of the local church should “have the same care one for another.” We should not look only to our own things, “but each of you also to the things of others.” Paul said: “In love of the brethren be tenderly affectioned one to another” (1 Corinthians 12:25; Philippians 2:4 & Romans 12:10).