Church Cliques

A clique among believers is a carnal counterfeit of the true unity in Christ. It is an alliance of believers in Christ intended to protect, promote and defend selfishness among the members by the power and authority of an immoral collective.

Its characteristics are:

  • Its mutual defense of the members from outside criticism and correction.
  • Its mutual protection of the personal interests of the members.
  • Its mutual promotion of the personal ambitions of the members.
  • Its divergence of authority from those in legitimate positions of authority and leadership to the self appointed leader(s) of the clique.  Its justification among the members of self seeking, self protective sins and exhibitions of adolescent immaturity by the body by the group.
  • Its dependence upon a self appointed leader generally unfit by character for legitimate authority and a place of servanthood ministry in the body of Christ.

The self appointed person may be outwardly charming and apparently compassionate but the covert instigator of the immoral actions of the clique. The leader is often the person with the most to gain from the presence of the clique and something to hide and to protect. The promotion of the clique may be the compensatory advancement of a broken dream, a failed agenda, or a regretted choice which causes continued, underlying regret, self blame and blame shifting, and self-pity.  A positions within the church is seen as an opportunity for self promotion and self protection. This person is thus dysfunctionally and carnally ambitious ( see Diotrephes, III John).

Sometimes the leaders of a clique are men but I’ve noticed that they can also be women who are disappointed in their marriages. Their expectations may have been unrealistic in the first place and eventually disappointed, or they have have entered their marriages by foolish or immoral choices. Rarely is there family stability and the family order of the Bible among the leaders and perpetrators of a clique. In this kind of situation the church may be seen as a steppingstone to personal ambitions, but rarely is there any kind of real love for the pastor or people in the church. There may be actually an underlying resentment and vengefulness toward the church and the pastor, particularly if they had any influence in the choices which led to the disappointing family life.

Cliques and false teaching: The carnality of the clique may actually be a festering ground for false and unbalanced teaching!

Note and compare the characteristics of the false teachers from Jude:

  • v. 4: a licentious and light attitude toward sin.
  • v. 8: self indulgence, rejection of authority and an unhealthy fascination with spiritual warfare
  • v. 10: carnal knowledge of spiritual matters, most often by parroting the godly
  • v. 11: envious opposition to the righteous like Cain, use of spiritual ministry for personal gain like Balaam, and instigation of rebellion against God’s legitimately appointed authorities among his people like Korah.
  • v. 12: unashamedly ambitious for personal interests
  • v.16: critical of others at some times, manipulative at other times, as it fits their needs.
  • v. 19: divisive because of the dominion of the flesh over them

Dealing with a clique

  • Identify the leader of the clique.
  • Identify the hidden interests of the members of the clique.
  • Draw away the vulnerable followers (often those under continued disdain from others of the clique but prevented from leaving or working against the clique for some reason), to constructive activity and actions.
  • Publicly confront false teachings if sponsored by the clique.
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