In recent years, at a couple of local churches that I have been associated with, I have observed a number of disturbing and questionable situations that I would classify as personal agendas. I have also observed that it is becoming more and more prevalent to see social cliques form inside the church membership. In both cases these are unhealthy and harmful to the church body and most likely will ultimately lead to disunity in the church. In light of this, let’s take a closer look at these two problems.
First of all, what do we mean by a personal agenda? Generally, this kind of situation arises because of a single individual’s desire to receive something they long for. It may be power or recognition or control but rest assured it comes from a heart full of pride. They will attempt to solicit the assistance of others in their endeavor and most of the time it is disguised as something reasonable and acceptable. These individuals have no real concern for the well-being of the church body and will always oppose any attempt to move forward if the ideas or methods are in conflict with theirs. It can come from anyone in the church including the pastor, a deacon, a staff member, a Sunday school teacher or a single church member. I have personally witnessed a group of staff members and deacons undergo a successful campaign to railroad the pastor out of the church. I have seen deacons take over Sunday school class ministries apparently for the recognition. I have witnessed pastors who have not been transparent with the church body and use calculated and targeted sermons to apparently push their personal agenda. I think we can all agree that these are dangerous to the cause of Christ and that there is no place for these things in the Lord’s church.
Now for cliques. What are they? They are formations of a group of people who have similar interests and those interests can be anything common to the group. As teenagers, we all experienced social cliques when we were in school and as adults, to some extent, in the workplace. In the church, they usually form by social standing in the community, by age group, by children’s activities outside the church and sometimes by college football team preference. Some are even formed by those who seem to think they are more spiritually mature than others. Therefore, herein lies the problem. Isolation of those outside the clique and pressure on those in the clique to not associate with those outside. This is totally opposite of what Christ expects from His church. I have heard it said that we all are equal at the foot of the cross but many times we sure don’t act like it. As you can see, social cliques in the church are not healthy to the church body and the ultimate result will be disunity, arrogance and complacency. Again, I think we can all agree that the church is no place for them.
Let’s all resolve to refrain from personal agendas and social cliques in our church and keep our focus on the main thing. Sharing the gospel by word and with our lives and ministering to others in time of need.