I’m not really sure why many youth workers think cliques are such a bad thing. We all have friends that we’re closer to than others, we all have people we naturally gravitate toward and we all get along with certain people better than others. There’s nothing wrong with this — it’s just a natural part of relationships. If the youth group is larger than 5 people, there a good chance that some people will become closer friends than others. There’s no way we can expect an entire youth group of students to all be best friends with each other.
However, cliques do become a problem if the little groups refuse to interact with each other, become hostile toward each other or become so closed that others feel rejected by their presence. Consequences for situations like this can range from an easy little talk to dismissal from youth group altogether.
As a leader, I never try to force my way into a “friendship group.” I let the students build their relationships and work my way in by loving them, caring for them and respecting their space from time to time. In return, they respect me, feel my genuine love for them and then enjoy my presence in the group.
I see no reason to break up the friendship groups. I actually use them to my advantage by keeping them together for small group discussions. The relationships that are already built provide a safer context for discussing more personal aspects of each other’s lives.
Posted on April 1, 2007