Is Your Church or Christian Small Group Cliquish?

Diana Davis
Diana Davis

“We’re a friendly church!” It’s a phrase heard regularly in most churches. Often, the more true statement is, “We’re really friendly with one another.” Is it possible that newcomers to your small group or your church perceive your sweet fellowship as cliquish?

Answer this question: Do you function more as a social club or an army of God? If your small group/Sunday School class is comfortably stagnant, or your church is plateaued or declining in attendance, perhaps it’s time to un-clique.

As the fall semester kicks off, try these simple ideas to un-clique your class:

* Stop and refocus. Teach members to pay attention. When a guest arrives, members immediately change their focus from chatting with one another to warmly welcome the guest.

* Every member’s a greeter. Train members to see every guest through God’s loving eyes, and connect personally. Learn their name. Listen well and introduce guests to others. Learn their name. Sit nearby guests. Have real conversation with them. Learn their name. Tell them about church events and ministries they might enjoy. Invite a guest to join you for lunch. Get to know them and share your own Jesus story. Don’t forget to learn their name.

* Add chairs, and move over. Anticipate guests. Provide plenty of seating so a guest never has to search awkwardly. Members can make guest seating less intimidating when they avoid “saving” seats in worship. Give up your end-of-pew seat rather than forcing newcomers to climb over you. For a Sunday School class, rearrange classroom seating often. Change from rows to a circle, or face a different direction.

* Avoid exclusive phrases. “Most of us are related.” “We’ve all been friends for years.” “We all grew up in this church.” Phrases like these inform guests that they’ll never be accepted. Show love for one another, but never at the expense of excluding others.

* Invite. Challenge class members to invite their unchurched acquaintances weekly. Print business-card-style invitations for members to carry with them. Teach members to be alert for guests in worship services and invite them to their class.

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SOURCE: Baptist Press
Diana Davis


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