9 Marks of an Unhealthy Church

8. The preaching has become erratic. This eighth of our signs of an unhealthy church may take on many forms. Maybe the pastor no longer shares the pulpit with other staff members and the occasional outside guest. Maybe the opposite is taking place and the pastor seems to be calling in the reserves more often than not. Maybe the preaching has become more vitriolic, or always hammers away at the same theme, or shows signs of little preparation. Maybe you’ve noticed that the preacher is relying more on video clips or prepackaged sermon outlines, or constantly reuses sermon material from a few years ago. No one wants the preaching to be dull. Some variation is to be expected and welcomed. But take a closer look if the preacher seems doctrinally unstable, irritable or exhausted.

9. There are issues everyone knows about but no one talks about openly. Unhealthy churches often have one major unwritten rule: The person who mentions our problems is the one with the problem. This could be a pastor who can’t preach, an organist who never sticks around for the sermon, an elder who is rumored to be in a compromised relationship, a youth director who doesn’t know how to talk to kids, a staff member who can’t get along with anyone, a leader who leads by fiat and intimidation. To be sure, many matters should be dealt with privately and quietly, but this is no excuse for turning a blind eye to what everyone can plainly see. Naming what everyone knows is often the first step in robbing the problem of its crippling power.

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kevindeyoung@churchleaders.com'
Kevin is the Senior Pastor at University Reformed Church (RCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, right across the street from Michigan State University. He has been the pastor there since 2004.