Criteria of A Unhealthy Church

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me [Jesus]; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:29-30

Below you will find a description of an unhealthy, abusive, or cultic church environment. This is just a guideline. Evaluate your circumstances where you are, if you feel that your local church, assembly, or organization has these criteria or not.

  1. Abusive Leaders base their spiritual authority on their position or office than on their service to the group. Remind others of their position as well. They promote a class system with themselves at the top.
  2. Performance Preoccupation – In an abusive systems, power is postured and authority is legislated. Therefore,  these systems are preoccupied with the performance of their members. Obedience and submission are two important words often used. Controlling the soul of the people by lack of information enabling people to make decisions.
  3. Misplaced Loyalty (“We alone are right”); (“This church only has good word here”), Scare tactics and humiliation. We’re not talking about the loyalty to Jesus Christ, but about the loyalty to a given organization, church, or cult.
  4. Their communication is not straight, then speech becomes especially vague and confusing (when they are defending themselves). Secretive and Paranoid most of the time. They manipulate people by making them feel guilty for not measuring up spiritually. They lay heavy religious loads on people and make no effort to lift those loads. You know you are in an abusive church if loads just keep getting heavier.
  5. They major on minor issues to the neglect of the truly important ones. They are conscientious about religious details, but neglect God’s larger agendas.
  6. Unspoken Rules – People’s lives or controlled from the outside in by rules, spoken and unspoken. Unspoken rules are those that govern unhealthy churches or organizations, but are not said out loud. Because they are not said out loud, you don’t find out that they’re there until you break them.

If your thinking, this is what’s going on were I am? Pray, Pray, Pray! Ask the Lord to guide and direct you into the “land with milk and honey”. Let’s read Numbers 14:8-9:

8 If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey.

9 Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defense is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not.

This is a metaphor for “All Things Good,” and that is were the Lord wants you and I to be. In a place where the spirit of the Lord dwells (2 Corinthians 3:17). We are not yoke to bondage (the letter of laws – rules and regulations of the unhealthy, abusive, and cultic church), manipulation, or another abusive system of service (James 1:25; James 2:12), but one which is perfect freedom (Romans 5:1-21; 1 Peter 2:16).

Remember the quote above, Jesus said, “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Anything the Lord is asking of us is not grievous, hard, and heavy to be borne, but they are easy and delightful. They are lovely in nature, and are cheerfully complied with, and abundance of spiritual pleasure and delight is enjoyed in them by Believer’s in Christ, when they have the presence of the Lord, the assistance of the Holy Spirit, and the great discoveries of God’s love toward us.

Please remember when you are seeking you set place (the place of belonging)!

“In Him [Christ] and through faith in Him, we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” – Ephesians 3:2



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