Here I've compiled a list of eight signs that your church is in need of a check. There are certainly more, but this list will give you a very good idea if you've been having doubts about your church lately.
These red flags should alert any Christian that their church may not be exactly what it claims to be on the outside, and it's important as the Body to hold our leaders, teachers, and pastors accountable. If you decide to check your church, or you've noticed that we have and it came back with a negative result, it may be time for you to find a new church.
Need a hand in the checking department? Let us know, and we'll add your church request to our list for review immediately.
Now, onto the list.
8 Signs That It's Time To Check Your Church
1. You feel obligated and/or pressured to give money to the church.
This one is easy to spot, and a giant red flag in case you didn't know. Tithing isn't contextually supported by Scripture, and giving should never be compelled by the church, or anyone. How much, when, or if you decided to give at all is 100% up to you, your heart, and between you and God.
2 Corinthians 9:7 - "Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."
2. You feel pressured or condemned by the church for not living up to their standards in some way.
Here is another issue that veers into legalism in whatever form the church chooses to push it. Some small groups have a main purpose of holding church members "accountable" in case they slip into some practice of "sin." Other churches focus their sermons on pressuring church members to perform works and live a certain lifestyle, rather than preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
If you feel pressured to perform for the church, its members, the pastor, or have been told that you must perform or live up to a certain standard in order to be acceptable to God, you are being burdened under the law, and should find a gracious church that preaches Christ.
Ephesians 2:8-9 - "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast."
3. You can't remember the last time your pastor used the Bible in context.
Many non-denominational Christian churches today have abandoned teaching the Bible through verse by verse studies during the Sunday service in an attempt to keep churchgoers entertained.
It might feel good to hear a sermon that applies directly to your life, and it may be less "boring" to hear a seminar on how to improve your marriage rather than a verse by verse study through the Bible, but if that's the case, you should really just attend a marriage seminar, and leave church for the pastors, who should be preaching the Bible, not whatever the latest social issue in your community might be.
The pastor's job is to preach the Gospel and to feed his congregation the Word of God. If he's not doing that, your church is in desperate need of a good Check.
Acts 20:28 - "Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood."
4. Your church is more focused on the worship service, its music, and the performances involved than on worshiping God Himself.
One of the biggest problems in the Christian church today is how we turn our worship to God, that is supposed to be for God alone, into a big freaking show for displaying everything and everyone's talents, rather than just worshiping God.
Fog machines, professional bands with expensive equipment, and a light show? Please, stop. When we turn our worship into a theatrical show, we are disrespecting God, taking away from worshiping Him by praising our own talents, abilities and skills. Worship is not about us and what we can make it look like.
It's also not about how loudly we sing, how high we raise our hands, or how holy we can make ourselves appear to be by putting on a big outward show, while neglecting the true worship of God in our hearts.
Christ speaks on this in Matthew 6.
Matthew 6:1 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven."
5. Your church has a store, a cafe, or a coffee shop that charges money for its products.
Churches need money to survive. This is just a reality. So it's no surprise when churches work to find ways to bring money in for their own survival. Of course. Why wouldn't they?
The problems come when we look at how churches earn money, how much money they are profiting off the church, what they spend that money on, and whether or not they're being transparent with that money.
Regarding how they make money, it's one thing to write books which educate and feed the flock, or to start a business venture outside the church in order to earn some money if the church isn't making any. It's another thing entirely to preach tithing and guilt your congregation into giving you money in the name of God.
Putting a store or a cafe in the church is almost as disgraceful, in my opinion. Charging the Body money is one way to get money from them without just outright asking for it, but Jesus didn't seem to like it much when this happened at the temple in Matthew 21. Selling goods is antithetical to the nature of what the church is actually supposed to be about. It's not a business, it's a "house of prayer."
Matthew 21:12-13 - "Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’”
6. Your activity in the church has a lot more to do with socializing than preaching the Gospel or studying the Word of God.
To create buzz, stir up popularity and keep people interested in attending church, many churches create events, activities and social groups, rather than focusing too much attention on that boring, lackluster Bible stuff.
While there is certainly nothing wrong with socializing and getting involved in activities and events to promote or nurture relationships within the church, the most important relationship Christians should be focused on is the one between each of us individually and God through Jesus Christ.
A tight-knit, close church of friends and family is a wonderful thing. But our relationship with Jesus Christ is what church is all about. If your church is encouraging you to develop and nurture relationships with people, but not Jesus so much, that's a big problem, and cause for concern.
I once attended a sermon that literally took verses from the book of Revelation, which pertained directly to the church's relationship with Jesus Christ, twisted it out of its context, and made it all about marital relationships. It's an insult to the Word, to the Christian in need of a relationship with Christ, and worst of all, to Christ Himself.
If your church does this nonsense, do yourself a favor and leave them for a church that will keep its eyes on the prize: Jesus Christ.
John 15:5 - "I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing."
7. You see your church logo more frequently than the cross.
This new trend that Christian churches do now where they basically affirm that they are a business and not a church by creating a logo...is just ridiculous, guys.
What happened to the cross? What's wrong with the cross? Doesn't the Bible kind of emphasize it's importance...a LOT? Why are we creating our own symbols, signs, logos and slogans for our church?
I'll tell you why. To sell tickets. To gain customers. To build a brand, and to gain popularity with consumerist Christians.
Another piece of advice: Don't be a consumerist Christian. Any church that creates its own logo for cool sweatshirts and lanyards and bags to sell you in their awesome cafe by the entrance of the church...needs to be CHECKED!
1 Corinthians 1:18 - "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."
8. Your church offers a lot of classes on personal finances, personal relationships, parenting, etc, but little to nothing on studying the Bible.
In addition to promoting a lot of social activity, many churches also have classes and courses you can take. Sometimes for a small fee even. What are these classes for? Well, as a Christian going to a Christian church, I would assume they're various different topics and issues regarding the Word of God, Christianity and its doctrines, etc...
If your church provides classes and courses on your finances (you should give to your church!), relationships with people (that aren't Jesus), or anything else that has nothing to with the Bible or Christianity in general, it sounds like you're attending church at a community college. And it should really be checked.
Does your church show any of these signs and need to be checked? Let us know. Or subscribe to receive your own CMC Guide, and check it yourself.