Posted: 2/12/19 at 11:15am. Post by Tony Brooks.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philippians 2:3-4 NIV)
How do we avoid cliques in Sunday School and small groups?
First, we need to be honest…people gravitate to certain people to build community and to encourage one another in growth in their relationship with Christ. My friend and author, Jim Ailor, would tell you that fact in his book: Life Boats: Friends with Purpose. My lifeboat is a group of guys who text each other often, are there for each other when there is a need, and get together a couple of times a year for an extended peer learning group that includes golf. We all need this deeper focus in our lives. We also need to reach new people—valuing them above ourselves.
For Sunday School and open small groups, we need to consider these ideas to avoid cliques:
- What is your “why” for the class/group? If your “why” is to reach new people for Christ while discipling class members, you need to let every person in the class understand it. They are all missionaries according to the Great Commission! They need to know the why and be sensitive to new people.
- Provide a Connector in every class. Some people call these individuals “greeters.” I like “connectors”. Their role is to meet new people, help them feel welcomed, getting them to fill out a prospect card and to find out their hobbies. After finding out their hobbies, they can introduce them to two to three other people who have similar hobbies! It often takes at least two to three connections to get them more interested in coming back. If one of the members invites them out that week…even better!
- Keep people focused on what God is doing now. Most classes are essentially closed classes after two years because they focus on their religious language and past experiences. Train members to focus on the present and what God is doing now. When you start talking about the past experiences of your church, newcomers feel left out and excluded.
- Set up care groups that include new people. (Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to get the document.) Care Group Leaders function as deacons in a Family Ministry Plan. They will have a few members, prospects, and persons serving in younger age groups to check on, let know about fellowship events for the class/group (have one at least once per quarter), and seek to pray for them daily.
Are you “valuing others above yourselves?” It is time to do so!