16 Warning Signals That Shouldn’t Be Ignored in Your Church

The church landscape contains a large number of churches. However, not all churches and ministries are the same. While some are healthy and vibrant, others make you feel like something is not right there. This post will discuss some red flags indicating it’s probably time to switch to another church.

Having An Authoritarian Leader

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While leaders are responsible for specific duties, they should not have unrestrained authority. This kind of leader only seeks blind obedience without being questioned. As highlighted in 1 Corinthians 10:14, idolizing any leader is wrong. If worship leaders focus only on themselves, it’s unhealthy and can lead the congregation to be treated as special.

Expecting Secrecy From Members

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If the church holds many private meetings and secretive discussions, it’s a major red flag. Restricting church finances to only a few and forgiving sins showcase a church’s unhealthy behavior. Healthy leaders openly acknowledge these errors and encourage communication.

Focusing on Rewards Rather Than Connection

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In some churches, your relationship with God is only a give-and-take: If you do certain things and follow specific rules, God will reward you. Sermons often emphasize God’s blessing, suggesting that each act will bring a particular blessing. This approach gives rise to superficial faith, where followers focus more on doing good deeds because of the reward rather than having a pure, unselfish relationship with God. When challenges arise, the same followers struggle or abandon their faith due to the lack of genuine connection with Jesus.

Is All About Money

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Churches need money to operate; that’s a fact. But when money becomes the main thing, there’s a problem. Churches that prioritize money often play on either greed or guilt. They might promise special blessings if you give more, appealing to your greed, or they might make you feel bad for not giving enough, tapping into your guilt. When money becomes the focus, churches get creative in asking for it.

Boasting About Being Only One True

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If a church claims to be the only true church and dismisses other congregations and worship styles as wrong, that’s a warning sign. This attitude, which sees outsiders as adversaries deserving of God’s judgment, shows a misunderstanding of God’s love. Churches should focus on spreading the gospel and glorifying God above everything else. It’s a positive sign when a church supports local churches, commends other pastors, and collaborates with Christians from different denominations for outreach.

Marketing Gimmicks

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Most churches, often inspired by popular culture, use marketing gimmicks to draw people in. They measure their success by the number of people who attend. These churches often don’t focus much on profound teachings like preaching the gospel or mentoring disciples but on entertainment.

Having a Lack of Accountability

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A church must always have a system of accountability in place. Without it, there’s a high risk of problems, regardless of the leaders’ good intentions. From pastors to children’s directors, checks and balances are crucial to prevent wrongdoing and protect everyone involved. Consider this a serious warning sign if your church lacks such a system.

Removing Scriptures from The Bible

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Some churches manipulate their teachings to support their agendas, often discouraging personal Bible study. Some churches even omit challenging verses or ignore large parts of the Bible to avoid offending contemporary cultural sensibilities. Both practices are misleading and can hinder genuine spiritual growth. Choose a Bible translation that helps you understand and study God’s Word effectively.

Not Discussing Finances

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It’s a serious concern when a church is not open and honest about its finances, including how much it pays its pastors and how donations are used. While it’s acceptable for a pastor to have a comfortable lifestyle, focusing on luxury rather than principles indicates significant issues. Churches should not operate like businesses; they should be transparent and led by trustworthy individuals who manage finances wisely.

Pressuring Volunteer Work

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If you appreciate your church and its mission, consider volunteering in a way that utilizes your talents. But remember, volunteering should be voluntary, without any pressure or manipulation. A good church will respect the fact that volunteers freely contribute their time and skills. Be cautious if your church doesn’t respect your feelings or ignores signs of burnout. It’s also crucial for churches to conduct background checks on volunteers working with children or youth to ensure safety. If your church doesn’t do this, encourage them to prioritize the congregation’s safety.

Criticizing for Asking Questions

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It is often a red flag if the pastor is unwelcoming or dismissive of your questions. Churches are places to seek guidance and answers. If you’re questioning your faith and seek help from church leaders, they should be supportive and eager to assist.

Not Conducting Any Prayers

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If a church rarely starts meetings with prayer, hardly discusses reaching out to unbelieving family and friends, and never requests prayer support, it’s essential to be cautious. If this is consistently the case, it’s a reason for you to turn around.

Pressing Rules Against Jesus Teachings

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When the church enforces rules or duties that don’t align with how Jesus lived as described in the gospels, it does not focus on the right things. While there is a sense of right and wrong according to Christ, rules should be based on love and sacrifice. If they aren’t, it’s as if we’re playing God and judging others, which is a harmful and unhappy path.

Allowing No Children in the Congregation

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A church with an average age of forty or older is often seen as a “dying” church because it lacks enough young members to replace the older ones. Churches should aim to be welcoming to children and offer activities and events tailored to help them understand the gospel at their age level.

Following an Exclusive Church Culture

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When a church only accepts certain people, like those baptized in the same denomination or from a particular social class, it restricts the gospel’s influence in the community. Favoritism is also wrong. A church should not resemble an exclusive country club, where entry is limited to specific conditions.

Emphasizing Law Over Grace

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When a church emphasizes rules too much, it becomes legalistic. If all you hear from the pulpit are rules, it’s a sign to be cautious. Churches overly focused on rules can make you feel restricted instead of safe.

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