Dealing with cliquish-ness and jealousy in my small church gathering

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Ani Lo Calah

Well-Known Member
Hi Amethyst, I have found myself in similar situations a couple of times with two different churches I had attended in the past. The one church was larger, roughly around 125 ? members. I was going thru a difficult and painful situation in my life and was searching for a church where I could find comfort for my soul and a true church family. Long story made short, I spent about one year going to that church and next to nobody even knew my last name and never made an attempt to get to know me. It was very "cliquey" and family oriented. Nothing for an oler single adult. I tried joining a 6 wk. bible study and the 15 or so people that also attended all sat in their little clique groups and I never felt welcomed. I came to the conclusion that God did not want me in that church. I shook the dust off my sandals so to speak and never returned.

I then started attending a much smaller church in my town, about 30 people. The age ranges were mostly over 75, but there were a few couples closer to my age (50's) and a couple of younger couples. The pastor and his wife were about 10 yrs. older than me and I became pretty good friends with them, to the point where we would do activities together outside of church. One of the younger couples, he was studying to be a pastor and wanted to someday have his own church. He was good friends with the pastor so I got to know this couple as well and we all did game nights together and whatnot, even though I felt more like the odd person out, I never let those feelings overwhelm me to the point were I let it be a problem in my life. Eventually, the pastor and his wife left the church due to a dispute where the older generation didn't want to allow the younger pastor in training do sermons in church once in a while. I was really broken up by the pastor and his wife leaving and moving out of the area. I felt like I had lost some dear friends, and we did communicate back and forth for a while, but eventually the communication stopped. Such as life. People come and people go. You will realize this the older you get. The younger pastor in training and his wife also left the church and started a house church with the other young couple in that church, and I started attending. The house church grew to around 12 or 14 people, and moved to a cafe in our town. Even though everyone was friendly with each other and I had no personal issues with anyone, there was still a clique that had formed with certain people. This church went through a lot of rough patches just trying to form a solid grounding and finding a dedicated place to have services. Over time I stopped attending and went back to my original church I attended since a child. The house church ended up breaking apart a short time later. God didn't want me a part of that either.

You said that "I have tried to hand this over to the Lord many times" but you seem to keep taking it back from Him. To hand something over to the Lord means you need to actually release it to Him. If you are praying about it, then you need to trust Him with His timing and outcome. You seem to be putting a whole lot of energy and focus into your fleshly feelings, and are more concerned about being well liked and part of the group, instead of growing deeper in your personal relationship with Christ, who is your only true Friend. It could very well be that God does not want you a part of that church, so the relationships you crave are not happening there. God always knows what's best for us, even when we can't see it.

I also want you to know that some of my best friendships are with people who are 10-20 years older than me. I have very few friends right now that are my age, most all of them are at least 10 years older than me, so don't discount making friends with older people. They are often more mature in the Lord and are more stable and dependable relationships. I am single and have no children, I was previously married before I chose to walk with Christ but I have been alone more of my adult life than not. This is God's calling for my life and it took me a long time to accept it. Every futile attempt I made on my own to make Christian friends/spouse ended in utter failure. I had to surrender my life completely to God for Him to use me the way He wants. I learned the hard way that wanting people in my life also made me put God on the back burner and He became less important to me than my friends. Now God has blessed me with just a couple of good Christian women friends in my life, they are all married and have busy lives, but I can go to them anytime I need a hug or a laugh and they are there for me. And they are all older than me. God gave me the friends He knew I needed, not the ones I thought I wanted. They came when I wasn't looking for or expecting it.

Since I went back to my original church, I discovered that God has given me a wonderful voice to sing his praises. A voice I never knew I had until I started going to the Praise & Worship service my church had started. I joined the praise team and started singing in church every Sunday with the others. This is where God developed my relationships with the women friends I have now and this is where He continued to develop my singing voice. I now routinely sing solo's in church. Who woulda thunk it? Certainly not me! Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought this is where God would lead me.

Amethyst, let go and let God. He may have a future for you beyond your wildest dreams if you let go of your own desires and will and let Him have His way with you. Work on making Jesus your best Friend.

God bless you sister!
 

Amethyst

Angie ... †
I have plenty of older people in my life that I confide in. I don't have anything against mature ages.
It's younger ones i have very few. Except unbelievers from childhood.
I do need people my age to have as friends.

When I said I have to hand it to the Lord many times it is because new incidents pop up. So yes I do have to give it to Him each time it happens. I guess I am weak that way.
 
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Nemophilist

Well-Known Member
Amethyst, I know exactly what you're speaking of. In fact, I could have written those same words. Two different churches I attended were very "cliquey". Like you said, they weren't mean and I don't think they were trying to be unkind, just really really wrapped up in each other and didn't seem to realize I existed. It was this way at every church service and function. It made me examine myself over and over to see if there was anything off-putting about me, but I couldn't come up with anything. With both churches, I attended for several years before finally deciding I needed to start looking for another one. I am happy to say, I LOVE the church I attend now. There is none of that type of behavior, we all love each other as a family, newcomers are welcomed and included, and the pastor teaches strictly from the Bible. Praying for you!
 

Lynn

Longing for Home
I am happy to say, I LOVE the church I attend now. There is none of that type of behavior, we all love each other as a family, newcomers are welcomed and included, and the pastor teaches strictly from the Bible.
So happy for you! I'm glad you took the step to leave your previous two churches. Even when a church doesn't seem to feel right for us, it's still hard to leave it behind. In my experience, I kept thinking that things would get better. Typically, if a church isn't right for someone at some point in time, most likely it never will be. God sharpens our eagle's Nest when He's calling us elsewhere.
 

Accepted

Well-Known Member
Dear @Amethyst I’ve experienced exactly what you’re describing more than once, as have so many others. It sure does hurt. I can look back over the years now and analyze it to a certain extent. First of all, it shows spiritual immaturity on the part of those who are clique-ish. That doesn’t mean they are awful people; it means they are seeking their own comfort rather than the command of Jesus for the Body of Christ to “love one another.” Of course, the Lord isn’t done “growing them up“ yet, as with all of us.

When I was a young mom, we were part of a large church in California with everything going for it - except love. We just didn’t have the experience or maturity at the time to pinpoint it, but I was always unsettled and confused. The teaching was good, the worship was good, but like the church at Ephesus, they had forsaken their first LOVE: Love for Jesus, and as a result, love for one another. Cliques were rampant. Women’s retreats were horrid; that’s when I felt it the most! We stuck it out for five years, not feeling like we had a good alternative.

Then we moved to WA for my husband’s work, and immediately found a smallish church that was very different - it was actually healthy. And I will say that the Lord worked our painful experience for good, because we now knew not to fall into the same situation. I learned so much at that WA church! There was one woman in particular I began to notice, because she was an elder’s wife (though actually my own age), yet I saw her reach out to everyone and anyone after every church service and church event. She even seemed to go to the “least of these” particularly - the elderly, or someone sitting alone. I was fascinated at the contrast, and began to see why I had felt confused at our former church. These people loved each other, and the pastor and his wife, along with this elder and his wife, were the ones setting that example!

In your specific situation, as long as you are with this church, I would ask the Lord to so fill you with His Spirit that you are able to love and care for them all, and be this example yourself. I wouldn’t try to force close friendship with the two younger women though; that never works. I think the Lord is showing you that there’s a better way than what you’re seeing.

Personally, I’d start praying and looking for a better church, but that’s between you and the Lord. It’s so difficult to find real Jesus-following and growing fellowships in these last days, I know.

Just remember, it’s not a lack in you, or in the fact that you’re single at this point in your life, that is causing this to happen. It’s simply a lack of spiritual maturity going on. Whether the church as a whole is healthy enough for you to continue to be a part of is something in which the Lord will guide you, I’m certain! ❤️
 

Footsteps

Well-Known Member
I don’t like to start with negatives, but in a smaller group there is no place for anything that even gives the appearance of a clique. It’s also an issue if a pastor’s or music leader’s spouse is stand-offish. You are aware of your spiritual journey but you are around people who seem to feel that their journey is complete. They will find out they were wrong, at some point.
Church is meant to include fellowship, even if there is only one other member to whom you are close.
I believe that God will sort out the various components of your situation and give you a sense of peace about the decision you ultimately make.
 

athenasius

Well-Known Member
Dear @Amethyst I’ve experienced exactly what you’re describing more than once, as have so many others. It sure does hurt. I can look back over the years now and analyze it to a certain extent. First of all, it shows spiritual immaturity on the part of those who are clique-ish. That doesn’t mean they are awful people; it means they are seeking their own comfort rather than the command of Jesus for the Body of Christ to “love one another.” Of course, the Lord isn’t done “growing them up“ yet, as with all of us.

When I was a young mom, we were part of a large church in California with everything going for it - except love. We just didn’t have the experience or maturity at the time to pinpoint it, but I was always unsettled and confused. The teaching was good, the worship was good, but like the church at Ephesus, they had forsaken their first LOVE: Love for Jesus, and as a result, love for one another. Cliques were rampant. Women’s retreats were horrid; that’s when I felt it the most! We stuck it out for five years, not feeling like we had a good alternative.

Then we moved to WA for my husband’s work, and immediately found a smallish church that was very different - it was actually healthy. And I will say that the Lord worked our painful experience for good, because we now knew not to fall into the same situation. I learned so much at that WA church! There was one woman in particular I began to notice, because she was an elder’s wife (though actually my own age), yet I saw her reach out to everyone and anyone after every church service and church event. She even seemed to go to the “least of these” particularly - the elderly, or someone sitting alone. I was fascinated at the contrast, and began to see why I had felt confused at our former church. These people loved each other, and the pastor and his wife, along with this elder and his wife, were the ones setting that example!

In your specific situation, as long as you are with this church, I would ask the Lord to so fill you with His Spirit that you are able to love and care for them all, and be this example yourself. I wouldn’t try to force close friendship with the two younger women though; that never works. I think the Lord is showing you that there’s a better way than what you’re seeing.

Personally, I’d start praying and looking for a better church, but that’s between you and the Lord. It’s so difficult to find real Jesus-following and growing fellowships in these last days, I know.

Just remember, it’s not a lack in you, or in the fact that you’re single at this point in your life, that is causing this to happen. It’s simply a lack of spiritual maturity going on. Whether the church as a whole is healthy enough for you to continue to be a part of is something in which the Lord will guide you, I’m certain! ❤️
I couldn't agree more! :scoregood
 

Mr T

Member
Every church I've ever been to had a potentially fatal floor: People. :confused: I understand the frustration (been there, done that... and I was the preacher ;) ). Its perfectly natural to want to fit in, to make friends, to feel loved ,etc. We all want to feel like we belong. The problem is, getting a group of relative strangers together and becoming a 'family', isn't always easy. It isn't 'natural'. When we think about it, even Jesus had to deal with some interesting situations: "A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest". (Luke 22) Jesus response: " ... let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves".

Can you imagine what the nine thought when "Jesus took with him Peter, John, and James, and went up the mountain to pray"? (Lk 9). I can already hear them grumbling about feeling left out. :oops: And what about the first time the other disciples read John's Gospel? " ... the one Jesus loved ..." (Jn 13) :cool:

Building a church is a process of becoming: "you yourselves, as living stones, are built up as a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood and to offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ". (1 Pet 2:5)

It takes wisdom: "But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere." (James 3:17). Notice that the 'fruits of the Spirit': "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Gal 5:22-23), are produced in us (for the benefit of others), when we have "crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." (next verse).

I am not saying this is you, but some people attend church just to "pick the fruit" because they want to be fed. Some, as others have said, simply find it easier to relate on the basis of common interest (home schooling, etc). They are probably not ignoring you intentionally. It's human nature.

Having said all that, we are created as relational beings. It's healthy and normal to seek mutually beneficial relationships with other believers. Perhaps, pray and ask the Lord to bring some new members to the church. Then you can focus your attention on making them feel welcome.
 

Mr T

Member
I think it is a different situation when the church at this point is under 15...

I'm not trying to be smart, but Jesus' initial group of followers was also under 15, and one of them betrayed Him. There is no such thing as the perfect church.

Many of Paul's letters were written to address issues in various churches. If anything, smaller fellowships only serve to highlight the differences in personalities, so it takes more work. It's easier to blend in, and find friends, in a bigger church.
 

Carl

Well-Known Member
After I sobered up I started dealing with my past. One of the things was to go to a church organization that was dealing with a person losing a mate. I had been going to the group of a couple hundred every week all summer. They had a big outing at a park where there were all sorts of games and stuff for get togethers and entertainment. I was there all afternoon and no one spent any time with me. They were all too busy talking to ones they knew better or liked better.

People do what people are comfortable doing. Few seem to explore new horizons. I finally noticed a young lady that was suffering the same treatment. Spent the afternoon with her. Now I can see that was God working in my life since I am shy and a loner mostly.
 
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