How to Make Friends When Your Church is Full of Cliques

🌺  Written by Brittany Ann

 How to Make Friends When Your Church is Full of CliquesA few weeks ago, I received the following reader question:

Do you have any good reads or articles on struggling with women friendships? I have struggled my whole life, and right now am really feeling low, and just want to give up and run away–literally–from my town.

Basically, I live in a small town where everyone knows everyone and everyone seems to already have their “clique” … A lot of these moms I have known for a few years; I have tried to build a relationship with them, but it never seems to go anywhere… I feel like I always reach out and ask for get togethers, etc, but nothing is ever reciprocated or vice versa to me. It’s disheartening to see women invite other women to do things and not me.

In the past year, I have tried to just keep an open heart, speak kindness and have been transparent with my life to these women of faith that I wish to build relationships with. My husband sees me cry and feel disappointed a lot and I don’t want him to feel like he has to make up for my lack of women friendships.

What should I do?


That’s a great question. And honestly, it isn’t the first time I’ve gotten that exact same question. We, as women, are made to live in community with others, and when we feel left out, it hurts!


Before I answer this question, though, there’s something you should know about me: I tend to stay to myself at church and I don’t have a lot of friends.

I literally have zero friends at the church we go to now, I had literally zero friends at the church I used to go to, and I only had a few acquaintances at the church before that. And quite honestly, this doesn’t really bother me.

I’d definitely welcome new friendship, but I won’t be sad if none come along.

Maybe that makes me not the person to answer this question–since I can’t really relate–or maybe that makes me the perfect person to answer this question–since it’s not something that bothers me. I don’t know.

But I’ll put in my two cents, and you can do with it what you will 🙂

*This post contains affiliate links. Please see my full disclosure policy for additional information. 


Uninvited BookBy the way, if you want a good book by someone who HAS been there and who really gets it, you should absolutely check out lo by Lysa Terkeurst. Even though this isn’t something I personally struggle with, I love all of her books and this one was no exception. It’s really good!



First, a few thoughts… then I’ll give some tips. 

(Please take these in love and kindness and know that, even if my tone probably sounds harsh because this is the Internet and you don’t really know me, I really am sending you virtual hugs.)


1. Church isn’t the only place you can make friends


Of course, it’s natural to want to make friends at church, and church friendships can be wonderful! But if there’s no one at church that you really “mesh with” — that’s really okay. There are a million other places you can make friends other than just church. 

Join a book club, a mom’s group or a fitness class. Volunteer for a local non-profit, take a college class or get to know your husband’s friends’ wives. Meet other moms at the park or join a group of Christian women online.

Why limit yourself to JUST church when your new potential best friend may be hanging out somewhere else?


Related: 6 Ways to Find More Close Godly Friends


2. If other people don’t want to be friends, that’s okay too.


Are the other ladies at church gossiping about you behind your back, making fun of you and purposely making a big show of leaving you out… or are they simply not reciprocating your gestures of friendship?

The truth is, there is a huge difference between failing to include people and purposely excluding people.


Think about when you met your husband. Out of allllll of the men in the world, you had to narrow it down and pick just one. The fact that you didn’t marry the 100 other guys you knew doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong or bad or undesirable about them–they just weren’t the one for you.

And it’s the same with friends.

You can only pick so many. So if someone doesn’t pick you, that does NOT mean there is anything wrong or bad or undesirable about you. It also doesn’t mean they are stuck up or rude or horrible people (although they might be). It just means you haven’t met the right friends yet.


Yes, you should be friendly to everyone, and they should be friendly too. But that doesn’t mean you have to be best friends with everyone. There simply isn’t enough time in the day for all that.

Instead of trying to force a relationship that isn’t there, why not find someone who is a better “match?” — Even if that someone doesn’t go to your church (see point #1).


3. If people don’t want to be your friend, why do you want to be theirs?


Maybe it’s just because I’m an introvert who doesn’t need many friends, but this one I just don’t understand.

There are billions of people in the world. Even if you narrow it down to just Christian women, that’s still about a billion.

So why would you spend all of your time worrying about what a small handful of women think when there are sooooo many other people you could be friends with? Who cares what they think? What makes them so special or their opinions matter so much? (Any more than anyone else’s I mean.) 

A good friendship is a match between two people who both enjoy each other’s company–not one person who convinced the other to hang out with her.

If these ladies aren’t a good fit for you–find other ones! (There are tons of us out there!)


Maybe that sounds harsh. It isn’t meant to be. But what you need to realize is this:

Every day you spend trying to force a friendship with someone who doesn’t want one is a day you don’t spend developing an awesome friendship with someone who does. 

Because one thing I can promise you — you aren’t the only one who feels lonely and left out. Not by a long shot. (Otherwise, books like Uninvited wouldn’t exist… but they do.)

Somewhere else out there desperately needs a friend and is feeling all alone. Pursue her–not the girls who already have friends who aren’t looking for more.


Alright, now that I got all that off my chest… Back to the matter at hand.

Of course, even though you realize that you can’t be friends with everyone and that some people are never going to be your friends, that doesn’t change the fact that you still want friends! (As you should!)

So, here are your practical tips:


1. Get Involved


The easiest way to get to know people–by far–is simply to get involved in the events that are already happening. Volunteer with the youth group, teach Sunday School or join the choir. Join a small group (many churches set them up for you), attend a volunteer day if your church has them or help out in the kitchen preparing the meal.

Churches are always looking for more volunteers, and this is a great way to build relationships with other women. Friendships will form far more naturally when you let them build up over time.

And people who volunteer are just plain awesome anyways. 🙂


2. Be Direct


Once you’ve started to develop something of a relationship with other women by getting involved in the group activities they are already participating in, it’s time to take it to the next level by asking them specifically if they would like to hang out with you.

Women are busy these days! Simply saying “Hey, we should get together sometime” or hoping they will invite you is not going to work. You have to be brave enough to ask directly.


Confession time… I was about to write out some examples for how to ask people to hang out… and I totally had to Google it. Like I said–I’m an introvert. lol! 

So instead let me direct you to this great article I found that should help: Examples Of Various Ways To Invite People To Hang Out 🙂


If you’re waiting around for other people to reach out to you — you may be waiting a long time. If you want to hang out–you have to say so! Be brave. You can do it.


3. Don’t Give Up


I still remember a good friend of mine I worked with in college. She wanted to be friends with me, so she casually asked me to hang out.

Well, me being the introvert that I am… I didn’t usually feel like doing anything most of the time, especially not whatever exciting events she was inviting me to.

But she just kept asking and asking (super politely–she wasn’t pressuring at all), eventually we did end up hanging out, and we became good friends. All because she was persistent.


So, even if it doesn’t work the first time, don’t give up. Ask again for something else. And again to still something else. (Politely–don’t be a stalker.) And if one person doesn’t particularly want to hang out, ask someone else. Someone somewhere out there wants to be your best friend–you just have to find them. 


Okay, so there you have it. I don’t know if that helps or not, but hopefully it will.

If you don’t have enough good friends–you are not alone! and the problem probably isn’t you. Try not to stress too much. Just keep bravely reaching out and meeting new people and eventually you will form the awesome friendships you desire.


Oh, and don’t forget to check out Uninvited by Lysa Terkeurst. I really think you’ll like it.


Do you ever feel left out at church? How do you deal with the cliques?



Brittany Ann Equipping Godly Women

About the author

Brittany Ann is an ECPA bestselling author of “Fall in Love with God’s Word” and “Follow God’s Will” and the founder of, a popular Christian-living website dedicated to helping busy Christian moms find practical ways to go "all in" in faith and family. Her work has been featured on CBN, The Christian Post, Crosswalk, and more.

  1. From what I have seen, many women battle to find friends (myself included). Their friends either consist of their husband’s friend’s wives. Or people they interact with through work, school, church – but very few (again only from my own observations) have truly close friends. I would love to have one dear soul to call a friend – someone I can trust and talk to and just be friends with. This is yet to happen for me, but perhaps one day…

    1. I agree. I think it all comes down to being intentional, though. If you need close friends–chances are other women do too! You just have to be persistent enough to find a way into their busy schedules! 🙂

  2. I love what you said about church being where you go to worship and be equipped to go out into the world. It made me think about the struggles I have had with my church in the past. I also attend a Catholic church and a few years ago I was struggling with hearing about all my other “non Catholic” friends having bible studies and all these social groups through their church and I felt like maybe I was missing out. I questioned why my church didn’t provide all these social outlets for me to make lots of close friends in our church.

    Funny enough, when I finally felt like I had a solid group of good friends in my life outside of our church I started to feel more happy within my church. So I would definitely suggest to the writer of the question to try and make friends anywhere in her life, it could happen at church or outside of church.

    Also, I found it easier to just try to focus on making one on one friends…not to try to break into a group of friends. Pick the person you think you would connect with the most and try to ask that one person to do something and just build one friendship at a time.

  3. Thank you so much for this wonderful article, Brittany. I am a faithful Catholic who has been re-inspired at our local church but my attempts at socialising and involvement have been uncomfortable! Boring and superficial! Dealing with cliques! And Bossiness, Superiority and Smugness! I have felt terrifically like an Outsider, which has made me suddenly feel sad and concerned about my Faith. Do Elders not see this cliquiness, or are just too comfortable with the ease it brings them as the “bossy cliques” do the work? They are also often the most respectable of the Parish, but it feels to me this is in a rather predictable, smug and superior way (married, lots of children, well-off). However, since this realisation, and thanks to other Catholics on the net, I have gained more understanding about my reluctance to socialise in this arena. I have also been reminded that socialising is not essential to the Catholic Church. As I read elsewhere “what needs to be remembered is that Catholics in general do not identify their spiritual lives with their social lives the way some protestant denominations do. A high degree of parish socialization is not religion, but a phenomenon that depends on the nature of the personalities in the parish”. I feel a little more peaceful about this subject now … thank you for adding your insights here and helping give the wider perspective here too. Best wishes.

    1. Yeah, it’s all a matter of perspective. It’d be nice if we were all best friends, wouldn’t it? But then we wouldn’t have so much reason to go OUT into the world – and that’s where we really need to be spending a lot of our time too.

    2. Hi Jane,
      I’ve just read your comment and agree.
      Maybe that happens in smaller parishes with predominantly older parishioners, who have lived in the same place all their lives. If you want, you can email me. I’d love to hear your story.

  4. One tip that I think wasn’t mentioned is to befriend newcomers who aren’t already part of a clique. They are in the same boat as you and would probably welcome a friendly face.

  5. I just looked up church cliques today.
    I have gone to my church, Catholic church- my entire life. Mom was life member. Her dad was life. My great grandparents were original members.

    CCD- our religious education, was weekly. This was the same group of kids from 1st grade on. I would talk to others. No one befriended me or learned my name, where as I can rattle off all their names. Those who went to the same high schools stuck together. I was alone.

    I joined a group- loner. The other girls only spoke to their own people.

    I am a choir member and a cantor. I also get involved with our picnic and dinners.
    I am an only child and my parents both died young and recently. No family attends my church. When I am there, I feel invisible.
    Years ago, I told my mom it always seems like the people here have their own families, friends, groups. I reach out on occasion. It is not reciprocated. I have felt disregarded several times. I don’t think those people realize they’ve done that.
    It’s tough because church is basically my social contact. I work and do college from home. Not married, no kids, and I am a young adult.
    In the past few months, I feel more like part of the furniture than a member.
    This is leading me to seek out other churches to see if I fit better. perhaps attending my life-long church was only a habit. When I go to other churches, I am welcomed, people talk to me, even in a store where one guy works- always says hello. But my parishioners- will not acknowledge in stores.
    The search continues…..
    Glad to see I am not imagining these situations.

    1. Well it definitely sounds like you have done more than your fair share! I wouldn’t blame you for looking into other churches. But honestly, I would also encourage you to get involved other places too. Yes, church is a great place to make friends, but it isn’t the only place. You might also consider joining different clubs, groups or volunteer opportunities as well to help you get more connected. Just a suggestion! <3

  6. we were all created for connectedness so it’s not wrong or abnormal to want to feel like we belong, especially at church. that is the one place we SHOULD…but if you are a newcomer, it’s like pulling teeth trying to fit it the already existing groups.


    Sometimes the one place in which we expect to feel accepted, appreciated, like we are a part of, that we long; is the place where we gather with others to worship. This comes easy for most. For me, wow, it’s like sending a man to the moon!

    I really do sincerely try but I still remain feeling like a ‘visitor’ rather than a part of the family of God. I am part of His family, maybe just not a part of the ‘Church Family’.I go to church alone because I am the only Christian in my home. This in itself makes it difficult but I don’t let it stop me. However being there alone on my own can really hurt at times even though I’ve done it this way for twenty years. It’s very sad and though I try hard each time to just block out everything else and focus on God, eventually the pang of ‘aloneness’ comes back to the surface.

    I KNOW that I am a child of God but I long to feel like I belong while here on earth. Don’t think there is anything wrong with that.

    Sometime, just sometimes it’s easier to find a friend in the world than in the Body of Christ. On one of the most recent occasions I felt a knot in my stomach even before getting to church because I knew that it being a special service on that day, everyone would be there with someone. Every year I keep praying and hoping it would change for me but it hasn’t just yet.

    So I got there, I kept praying to the Lord ‘Lord please help me not to feel alone, help to handle this without falling apart on the inside”.

    Well at the end of the service, everyone as usual was huddling and greeting someone.(If you are asking why I don’t be the one to mingle, believe me I try) . I kept my eyes closed thinking God if I opened my eyes, I would burst into tears…Well, I had to eventually leave so had to open my eyes!.. I left with a broken heart. I cried all the way home unable to brings words out of my mouth to the Lord.

    I won’t apologize for how I feel. I am only human and though I agree the root of the problem is within myself and not anyone else, it is a real battle and I just thought that being in church would help in some way to bring healing. There is a difference between being in church and being A PART of church. Tough difference I would say.

    I remember on my very first day of high school, I was so nervous because I didn’t know anyone. But once I got there, I realized hey, everyone here is new! So we were all in the same place! On the other hand, today, joining an existing group of people, being the new one, could be hard at first, but it should eventually become easier…..For me, this hasn’t happened and I still feel like the ‘new’ person, hard to fit in, to connect to belong. Maybe some day??? Maybe when some more years have passed and I have been there for a long time, maybe then I’d become part of the family???? I sure hope so.

    Until then, I am so thankful that God has opened wide His arms and accepted me. He hides me in His embrace because He alone understands my struggle. The good news is that throughout this, God is changing me, helping me, healing me and it is also strengthening my relationship with Him. I would like to believe that someday I would get to that place where I am fully content with God as my everything, but somehow I just don’t think God made us to be alone while on earth.

    I recently found out how many Christians go through this same struggle and oh how sad it is. But I am also relieved to know it isn’t just me.

    Everyone’s got their groups and cliques, and for now God’s got me.

    1. Awww, I’m sorry to hear that. By the way, have you read the book “Uninvited” by Lysa Terkeurst? Your story reminds me of that book. (It’s a good one!)

      1. thank you. I will look into that book..sounds very much like me… I am Uninvited….

        thanks again.

  7. I apologize if this comes off insulting but regarding your #1- you are completely wrong. For one thing most of us who don’t have relationships in church, also struggle with making them outside of church as hard as we try/tried, but we would prefer relationships with those within the Body of Christ. Secondly, church may not be a social club, but it is a family (the family of God) which we are all apart of and family’s are to love each other, accept each other, reach out to each other, spend time with one another etc… so, there should be fellowship within and without of the building walls. We are there to worship yes, however our lives are to be in constant worship, the gathering is meant to lift us up, give us community, help us to not be lonely and to bond us together. That can be evidenced again and again by Paul and Peter’s writings in the Word and that is why it was said ‘do not forsake the assembling together’. We can worship, pray and learn on our own between us and God, community is meant for that and much much more! That is something I’ve longed for years to experience, but have yet to receive.

    1. So, you’re saying that every Christian has a moral obligation to be friends with every person who goes to the same church as them?

      1. Every Christian has a moral obligation to help meet the needs of their fellow man..or woman as the case may be…and if that includes a need for friendship then YES MA’M…they have a moral obligation to befriend. No one said we get to stay in our comfort zone. God befriended us when we were still yet sinners… Jesus befriended everyone he came into contact with. We are to strive to be like him.

      2. I have to disagree. Jesus was friendly to most people (pharisees excluded) – but he didn’t befriend everyone. He had 12 disciples he regularly spent time with, and of those 12, three he was especially close to and one best friend. He was good friends with others including Mary, Martha and Lazarus also.

        BUT he wasn’t best friends with everyone. There are no Bible stories that he invited the 5,000 over to dinner night after night because after he met them they were all best friends from then on. There are no stories that he had parties and ice cream socials with all his best friends every night. He didn’t just hang out at the temple and invite the same people to dinner every Sunday. Instead, we have plenty of stories of him with the 12, and PLENTY of stories where he went off by himself to pray. He was a human – he needed to recharge.

        He was needed by the masses. If he would have just stayed and been best friends with everyone in his temple, he wouldn’t have had time to complete the mission God sent him to complete.

        It sounds like you really have a heart for befriending people — that’s awesome!! The church absolutely needs people like that. Badly. And yes, the church should be more friendly as a whole. But everyone is called differently and if everyone all tried to do the same job, other jobs wouldn’t be done.

        What about famous Christian singers for example? They can’t go to every ice cream social — they’re out on the road, working. Should they not be allowed to record and perform for people who need that encouragement because they have to be at their own home church every week to make sure to sit with people who are lonely?

      3. He made it clear that we ate brethren. He treated his disciples like family. We are born again in Him – new blood, the same blood. If you don’t feel that? We have the same father. They will know you by the way you love eachother; wash eachothers feet; serve eachother. If that’s not happening there is something wrong.

      4. Maybe I was too blunt. I suffer from anxiety at times and don’t want people sitting next to me and all huggy. But I’d like an atmosphere where there is some warmth and recognition of my existence-a friendly hi every once in a while. Not too much to ask I think.

  8. Thank you for a great article that, albeit read a year after it was posted, was very ‘timely’ for what I am going through right now. I am a recent ’empty nester’ former homeschool mom who gave up a very busy professional career to be home and then homeschooled. When the youngest ventured off to college I was completely unprepared. It has been a very rough two years and I am still in that desert and trying to figure out where God wants me. It has also been a very lonely time for the extrovert that I am. The article helped and I have purchased Lisa’s book as well. Blessings to you!!!!!

    1. Awww. I’m glad you got the book though. I really think it will help. (I’m not even someone who struggles with friendship – I’m a definitely introvert – but it is SO good. I still got a ton out of it)

  9. With all due respect to you, and you did make a disclaimer that you don’t particularly want friends at church, but with all due respect to you…you are wrong in your response. At least in part. There, I said it. You are wrong. You said that “church is not a social club”… I get what you mean and agree in part. But, having experienced what this woman is feeling, I respectfully disagree, and here is why. I ask you to consider this from another view point.

    As church members…as brothers and sisters …we are to “fellowship”…that denotes socialization. Perhaps not a “club” but certainly it is a fellowship and therefore social by nature. If that socialization is authentic then it will be more than polite surface pleasantries. We can get that at Walmart or the grocery store. The church SHOULD be more. After all, we are coming together AS ONE BODY in Christ… if we are not to be “social” with one another then how can we be one body. A healthy physical body has all parts functioning in concert one with the other. The lungs provide oxygen, the heart pumps blood …yet these two parts cannot feed the body…it takes the hands, mouth, and digestive system to do that. But they work together. Together. Socialization. Not isolation as is practiced in so many church congregations today. When God called the church a “body”, He provided us a wonderful visual of how members should interact and yes…social club they should be. A Godly social club if you will.

    Also, consider this. If a church sees a woman in need –. Maybe she has no food; Maybe her home has burnt and she is in need of clothes, etc; Maybe she is a widow or sick and needs a ride to the doctor’s office. Usually in a case such as that, the church members will organize a clothing drive, or give a special donation or offer transportation to the appointment. Why? Because we understand that as a church body we are to meet the needs of both the lost and our own members. We reach out. But yet we see a woman who has no friends… lonely for female companionship…and we do NOTHING? No rally to say….hey, Susie could use some friendship… lets a couple of us invite her to lunch and get to know her better and let her get to know us?

    I believe that socialization and yes.. call it a “social club” — is one of our many missions that a church should be doing. Reaching out…right there in God’s house…across the pews … and ministering to the immense loneliness enveloping this nation. We have more communication devices…but far less meaningful communication. Yes.. international ministries are important. Reaching the lost with the good news of the gospel is our number one priority…but so is ministering to our own members as they did in the first century. And what a lovely way to minister… by giving the gift of friendship. I pray church members wake up to this fact soon.

    1. Oh, I totally agree that the church should be friendly and reach out to people as a whole. I just don’t believe that every single person HAS to be best friends with every single person. Friendly? Yes. Warm and welcoming? Yes. But that same passage you mentioned didn’t say that “every member should be a hand because getting food to the mouth is really important.” It definitely IS important, but so are LOTS of things.

      God created us all differently with different talents and abilities. So yes, everyone should be welcoming and friendly and help connect people. But if some random lady comes in and really needs a friend and she drives me batty – I am not obligated personally to sit with her every Sunday to make sure she has a friend. I would be friendly. I would be happy to help organize various social events and functions so she can get to know people and be a part of the community. But not every single person needs 300+ friends. Just as a human being, I only have the capacity for so many. I literally – as a human – cannot possibly befriend every lonely person.

  10. I am just going to explain my own situation in my church.
    I have only been in my church for one year, and I have struggled the whole year.
    Most of the members in the church were at a previous church which closed down so they all know each other well.
    I am disabled so rather than travel home each Sunday I was invited to stay at the church for Sunday lunch and then go home after church in the evening.
    At the beginning all seemed okay, then I found “gossip” started to filter into the conversation’s and the “gossip” was about a family that left the church.
    As I had met this family I felt very hurt about stuff that was said about them and their business was “gossiped” about.
    One of the main people “gossiping” was an Elder in the church.
    I obviously didn’t like this but as I was new to the church I said nothing.
    Some time passed a couple of weeks’ or so, I was at church and I got into a conversation with this Elder and the conversation got onto the subject of my faith.
    When I revealed my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as my savior this Elder replied to me that my faith was not faith but garbage.
    This Elder also went on to say that the majority of the people coming through the church doors are all talk.
    I stopped attending church for seven weeks’ and I wrote a very strongly worded letter to my Pastor.
    My Pastor didn’t reply to my letter.
    I returned to the church simply because the Pastor is a faithful teacher of the word of God.
    When I returned to the church I brought my daughter with me for support.
    I was sitting in the sanctuary of the church minding my own business with my daughter the next thing I knew the Pastors wife was at the right side of me.
    She was bent over leaning on the chair in front of me staring into my face.
    She was seething and hissing words from her mouth to me that I was judging, unforgiving I had a critical spirit and a grievous spirit I asked her to leave twice but she stood on.
    I wrote a letter of complaint to the Pastor but I am told that the Pastor’s wife wears the trousers in their marriage and it is the Pastors wife who calls all the shots.
    The Pastor’s wife falsely accused me of all of these things and I have written her a “rebuke” and she has not come back to me.
    Church is not perfect and church never will be perfect because a perfect church does not exist.
    The Pastor’s wife and I no longer speak her friends who talk behind her back calling her a silly woman they don’t speak to me either. But I don’t want these people as friends so not speaking to me is okay.
    I am not at church for these people I am there expecting a move of God, praying for a move of God and to hear from God his purpose for my life.B

    1. What?? That’s ridiculous. And while it’s good that you’re trying to be there just for God and not for the people, honestly, I can’t imagine God really showing up in a church like that. Is there ANY way you could switch to a different church?

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