Home Pastors Articles for Pastors 6 Signs Your Church Is Dysfunctional

6 Signs Your Church Is Dysfunctional

6. Many times, the leader gets a pass for the fruit of his/her leadership because of some overwhelming characteristic: preaching ability, intelligence, ability to woo others or more.

Yet, the fruit remains below—a culture toxic to all who swim downstream. The leader is often seen (from the outside) as a great leader, but those inside know him/her as someone who is, well, more concerned about outside appearance than godly leadership.

To be blunt, I see this last issue more often than you might expect. Perhaps it is because of what I do, working with different denominations and groups. I am encouraged now to be in a more healthy work environment. However, I think there is a significant issue out there—a lot of unhealthy Christian organizations are hurting those who serve within them.

Maybe you are in an unhealthy church or organization. Over the next few weeks, I would like to write something more definitive (and I hope helpful) on the subject as I see it as a great need. If you are willing, share some other characteristics (and let me know if these characteristics I’ve shared are accurate).

In part one, I shared six signs you may be working in an unhealthy Christian organization. Many of you shared your experiences in the comment section as well. Unfortunately, those issues occur more often than any of us would like.

Some interesting things occurred in response to that post. First, more than one person from the same organization contacted me thanking me. My exhortation to them was simple—I’ve been there, hang in there but get out as fast as you can.

That is why, if you do find yourself in an unhealthy Christian organization, I would encourage you to consider that God may want you to leave it. My own standard is this: Will staying here hurt my walk with God or harm my family?

You might be able to handle it, but you have to ask how it will impact your family as well. You may notice that the leader often talks about the priority of family, but generally only gives priority to his or her own family—if even them. You are the only one who is advocating for your family—protect them.

Being at a place that “makes a difference” sounds good, but if you end up with a confused spiritual life or broken family, it is just not worth the price. You do not want to be a “great place” and have a broken life because you have become warped by the culture around you.

That is indeed what happens. You can often see the impact on those close to the leader. An unhealthy Christian organization tends to have two things going on at the top of the organizations:

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Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., is a professor and dean at Wheaton College where he also serves as Executive Director of the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, has earned two master’s degrees and two doctorates, and has written hundreds of articles and a dozen books. He is Regional Director for Lausanne North America, is the editor-in-chief of Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited in, interviewed by, and writes for news outlets such as USAToday and CNN. He is the Founding Editor of The Gospel Project, a curriculum used by more than 1.7 million individuals each week for bible story. His national radio show, Ed Stetzer Live, airs Saturdays on Moody Radio and affiliates. He serves as interim teaching pastor of Calvary Church in New York City and serves as teaching pastor at Highpoint Church.