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The Christian community as a group - the desire to be part
of it:
about group membership, group dynamics

and group conflicts.

You and the group

 

 

 

Fitting in is not belonging. Belonging means being welcome just the way you are.

We all want to belong.

 

It is a basic human need to be part of a community, to engage in social exchange with others; humans are social, relational creatures, and without a sense of community we wither away, feeling lonely and isolated.

 Groups of any kind provide us with this foundation of community.

Think of work groups, cliques, or sports clubs - they all have something in common: they work toward a specific and clearly defined goal, they share common interests, and they provide a framework within which this need can be met and lived out.

Recognition and esteem, the opportunity to contribute and experience oneself in such groups are also goals of a group.
To meet like-minded people, to make friends, to experience security. A group in which we feel a part makes us grow, brings us closer to our own values and ideals, and offers contact with like-minded people. We feel safe and accepted, supported and welcomed. We are part of a network.

But it is not only the basic need to belong that drives people, but also the need to stand out, to be different, to be individual and unique.

In group processes, this is expressed in such a way that a certain Bonnie & Clyde attitude develops - "we together against the rest of the world": If you are a fan of one team, you cannot be a fan of the other. If you are employed by company xy, of course it is much better" than the company next door poaching members. It's called the cornerstone around which the group identity is defined. And the more extreme the perceptions and the pressure to conform internally, the more extreme the "world outside" is rejected.
What does this mean for you?
You want to belong, to be accepted.


Therefore, you develop solidarity/loyalty to your group because you share the same interests, the same goals, you see yourself as part of this group, but at the same time you also want (and are allowed) to differentiate yourself, to "be and remain yourself". You want to remain self-determined and autonomous, keep your personality.

And that's perfectly healthy.


This is very important to understand when we talk about the dark side of group membership:
In groups, you automatically conform because you want to belong. Psychology calls this group conformity.
You adopt values, behaviors, and even actions that you personally would never hold or perform in that way. An adaptation to the majority opinion: It apparently promises to avoid arguments and discussions. It also promises greater acceptance, fewer problems, and protection from the group.


It also happens in groups that conflicts arise because of different opinions and perceptions, especially when the group is very large. There are conflicts between groups with similar goals and values, and then there are different character traits of individual group members that clash. Also, and we'll come to this, groups often deal with conflict in a deconstructive way, that is, in a way that is not beneficial.

Let's summarize this briefly:

It is perfectly normal and healthy to want to belong.

We humans are not loners. And belonging to a group has many positive aspects: Shared interests, common goals, meeting like-minded people - it gives you identity and the opportunity to live out your need for relationship and loyalty within a safe framework.

 


But your need for self-determination, personal opinion, and unique identity is also normal and healthy.

 


In group processes, however, this is often lost because you agree with the majority opinion in order to belong, even though you may disagree with it. Then group identity and membership become more important than your own personality and heart. And that's difficult, dangerous, and in extreme cases it makes you sick because you live in an eternal inner conflict.

 

The next article will deal specifically with these negative effects and difficult processes.

Sources: In gratitude and respect for the respective projects and enlightenment works:

https://www.deutschlandfunk.de/spiritueller-missbrauch-ich-passte-ins-beuteschema-100.html

https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gruppenzwang#:~:text=Groupcoercion%20%28also%20conformity%C3%A4ts%20-%20or%20grouppressure%2C%20engl.%20under,which%20applies%C3%B6rigkeit%20and%20the%20group%20is%20limited.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oI9Xkp5_YEI

With thanks to Prof. Dr. Samuel Pfeifer for a really good lecture.

"The Wave"- Morton Rhue.

As well as plenty of personal experience and research.

 

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