There is no such thing as a "perfect" church. Honestly, there will never be a perfect church because the people who occupy the church are imperfect. The only thing perfect in church is the message and purity of the Gospel. Though there is no perfect church, there are healthy and unhealthy churches. I have been in church literally my entire life, so I have seen the great, the good, the bad and the downright ugly. After witnessing and having endless discussions about the church culture, I have compiled a list of 5 signs that signal you are a part of an unhealthy church.
1. Leadership Does Not Have A Clear Vision
Proverbs 29:18 states, "Where there i no vision, the people perish." A church whose leadership has not explained or formed a vision that states: "this is who we are, this is where we're going and this is how we're going to get there" is unhealthy in the highest form. How can a church or any organization function or truly exist without vision? Jesus was the ultimate vision-caster. He stated his vision for not only what the church should look like but ultimately, what the role of the church is and its purpose. Unfortunately, I have seen churches that had no mission and absolutely no vision and scripture is 100% correct, the people did perish. If you don't know what the mission and vision is of your church, chances are you are in an unhealthy church. Additionally, if your church has a mission and vision statement but you don't see the mission and vision being executed within the church's set up and organizational structure, programs and/or ministries that are offered, you are probably in an unhealthy church.
2. Leadership Can Never Be Challenged
If you are part of a church where leadership can never be questioned or challenged, run! I have witnessed this and I can tell you this will not end very well. Please remember, church leaders are there to cast vision and to steer the church in the direction to which God is leading. Church leaders are not and should not be dictators. What I mean is this; members should never fear asking a question against a proposed idea or direction from leadership in the church. With that being said, there should also be a level of respect given when challenging church leadership. The key is to be concerned not confrontational. Ultimately, you should be able to ask questions regarding where your church is headed, without feeling fearful of church leadership.
3. You Are Comfortable but Never Convicted
If you are attending a church and you have a) never been convicted or b) never offended in your sin when the Gospel is preached or taught, hightail it out of there! It is very dangerous when a church's preaching and teaching team operates in what I call the "Ren and Stimpy" Theology. What I mean by this is every sermon and lesson that comes from the preaching/teaching team is always "happy happy joy joy," but there are never heart-piercing, convicting messages that will challenge people.
Church shouldn't be designed to just make you feel warm and fuzzy on the inside but church should be there to bring conviction through the Word of God to bring correction in a person's life. Additionally, if your church is not balanced in its teaching, your walk with God becomes stunted; you will not grow.
If you have ever had to go to a hospital to get better, then you know most times in your healing process, there is pain involved. It's the same thing with church, your healing process won't be joyful all the time, there will be and should be times you are broken, convicted and offended in your sin.
4. Congregants Are Content With Being Pew Warmers
I can generally tell if a church's culture is unhealthy if its congregants are content with being pew warmers. What is a pew warmer? A pew warmer is a person who does not get involved in their church; they only attend church on Sundays and they are content in doing so. When a church is healthy, people are excited about lending their gifts to the up-building of their local church and the Body of Christ as a whole.
However, if the only time a church sees a rise in volunteerism is when the pastor lays a huge guilt trip on his or her congregation, something is wrong. When a church's environment is a healthy one, you should never have to inflict guilt upon people in order to get them involved. They will have a heart to serve, not out of guilt but out of desire.
5. Outreach is Never Planned or Preached
A church that never plans or even preaches outreach is unhealthy. When a church feels no need or desire to not only preach helping those outside of the four walls, but never does anything in its surrounding community, it speaks volumes. Outreach was and is the heart of Jesus. Simply having worship on Sundays is not church; it's simply a meeting. The work that is done in the community to show God's love is church. It is one thing to talk church, but it's another thing to actually BE the church. If the church that you attend never preaches or plans outreach in the community, country or world, you are definitely part of an unhealthy church. Real church takes place by rendering service; usually outside the four walls of a building.