My Personal List of Warning Signs of a Bad Church

Churches come in all shapes and sizes, and the Bible grants them a great deal of flexibility.  Even so, after some 30+ years of attending churches good and bad, I've started to notice patterns in the bad ones.  I've started jotting them down, and I'll add to this post as I see more. So, if I'm traveling on the Lord's Day, here are signs that say to me, "Stay away."

(OBLIGATORY NOTE*: These are not definitive evidences of bad churches, as some good churches undoubtedly have one or more of these characteristics.  I'm also not saying that I automatically wouldn't attend a church with one or more of these, my pet peeves put aside. And, before you ask, yes, these are all drawn from real examples of bad churches.)
  1. Churches with one-word names (definite articles and “church” notwithstanding)
    Ex. “Journey”; “The Light”; “Real Church”; “Elevation Church”
  2. Churches with more than five-word names
    Ex. “New Apostolic Church of Pentecostal Miracle Deliverance and Sufficient Grace, Inc.”
  3. Churches that infringe upon corporate names
    Ex. IHOP: “International House of Prayer”
  4. Any church that requires visitors to walk through an attire or wealth detector, or have "special" parking out of view for beater and older-model vehicles.
  5. A church with the letters "A. V." and the numbers "1611" on their sign
  6. A church with a clown on the sign, especially if it's announcing the latest production of a Broadway musical.
  7. Churches a-sparkle with the name-tags adorning the congregation
  8. Churches with Plexiglas pulpits, music-stand pulpits, or no pulpits.
  9. A church decorated with wall art of the pastor, his pulpit time, and his family.
  10. Churches where, during the worship music, strobes and spot lights move to illuminate the audience or auditorium (sanctuary?)…
  11. …or that use fog machines during Sunday worship…
  12. …or that expand a song by seven-minute “experience” through either twenty-nine repetitions of “Send Your fire” or a bass solo.
  13. Basically, two words: Worship band.
  14. Churches where, five to seven minutes max. into his sermon, the pastor fails to say, “Open your Bibles to…”
  15. Churches where, five minutes into her sermon… (‘nuff said)
  16. Churches where the pastor starts with a video.
  17. Churches that have props, sets, color schemes, or something visible to set apart the pastor's current sermon series, especially if said visuals are based off pop-culture.
  18. Any church where the pastor stands up in a tight shirt to show off his tats and gym bod.
  19. ...or wears a t-shirt, a v-neck, a plaid shirt and jeans, some hipster specs, or hair product.
  20. A church where a pastor at some point smiles and commands, "Turn to your neighbor and say _________," or asks, "Can I get an amen?"
  21. Churches whose children's departments have the kids color pictures of their pastors, prophets, or staff members...
  22. ...or that require members to use kiosks and bar code scanners to check children in and out of class
  23. ...or that give communion to kids
  24. ...or that don't, at least, encourage kids to bring their Bibles.
  25. Any church whose youth group won last year's National Harlem Faith-Shake Video Competition...
  26. ...or that even submitted a video
  27. Any church with "temple" in the name.
  28. Any church that has two sermons in one service: the sermon proper and the 20-minute tithing reminder.
  29. Two words: Altar Calls.  Dim the house lights and cue thirty verses of "Just As I Am."
  30. Churches with websites that make reference to the importance of "mentoring" instead of discipleship, "being missional" instead of evangelism, "doing life together" or "building community" instead of fellowship... basically, avoid those churches that avoid biblical terminology.
  31. Churches with staff listed as "life coach," "visionary pastor," "head pastor," "equipping pastor," "drama and visual arts pastor."
  32. Churches with tithing calculators on their websites

*Because folks get offended way too easily these days, and someone will be thinking of the exceptions to these statements.

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