Things that ruin a Church: People

“People ” ruin a church? People make a church. Yes and yes. A church really has nothing to do with the building, money, resources, history, nor any other thing that people attribute to a great work of God. What makes or breaks a church is the people that make it up.

Good churches are people functioning in the Body of Christ. Ruined churches are businesses designed to look religious. There is a great difference between the two. When a body functions, especially a spiritual body, it rebounds and bends, is flexible according to the needs of the moment. A business has rules that are never broken. The bottom line of a business is profit, so what is the spiritual “bottom line” of your church? If it is glory, power, control, submission of the people, worldly success, etc. then the church is ruined. A body functions and serves, and at some point, grown ups reproduce. Is your church reproducing? Is it training its offspring to be adult and mature? That is the purpose of the church in capsule form.

Good churches are churches that have good leaders steering the group always into the will of God. Its relationships between its leaders, and between its leaders and members, and between the members is healthy, productive, and spiritual.

Tract: Church14 Finding a Good Church

Good People (making Good church happen)

First of all, let me say that no person is good in and of himself. There are no secrets and no magic here. These “church-making” people are very simply Holy-Spirit-filled people who serve God with a sincere heart, and their “good effect” on the church is because they have studied the Bible, understand what God wants from them as Christians, and they are applying their life and energy in fulfilling this. These are the backbones of any good church. God have mercy on the church if you don’t have these people.

Marks of “Good people”

Okay, so what do they look like? First of all, they look like Jesus Christ. He is their pattern. Secondly, they are humble servants that are patient and endlessly energetic to do what is right (practice biblical righteousness). They are generous with their own life serving others, and they are sacrificial and generous with their own resources to do the work of Christ and help their brethren. They are the kind of people that would give you the shirt off their back if you needed it. They are easiy overlooked because they do not desire public recognition, but look to God to recognize their labors in eternity. They are easy to get along with because they are very reasonable people. These people know their Bible very well and are not deceived or led astray by expert persuaders. They take things slowly, and pray and meditate over things, especially the important things. Sometimes other see them as dense or of slow understanding, and of slow to make decisions or commit, but that is because being fast is usually going to end you up in being wrong also. They know this and prevent this from happening personally and in their church by soaking everything in many hours of prayer.

These are Christian workers, in that they don’t like to be served but to serve. You have to fight them at times because they won’t let you do things, because they see every opportunity for service as an opportunity for more rewards in heaven, and they are crazy about accumulating those rewards.

2Tim 2:22 Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart

These kinds of people are those that Paul refers to here. They serve God with a pure and sincere heart. You should seek for churches that have some or if possible a lot of people like this in them.

Love is another element that can make or break a church.

See my tracts
Church09 Our “One Another” Relationship
Salvation21 There is no Salvation without Love
Church15 Congregating because we love

Healthy “Good” Leaders

A good leader should be easy to recognize, but they aren’t because they are on the brink of extinction. A good leader is first of all, just a good Christian that has been called of God for the purpose of leading God’s people into an obedient and closer walk with God. He has fully dedicated his life, paying whatever personal sacrifices God asks of him, in order to obey God. Money is not in the top 10 of his reasons for doing this. Fame, power, or other carnal motives are not in his thinking at all. He is first and foremost a servant of God.

You can recognize him by his personal sacrifice, by the personal fight within himself to lead without abusing or showing excisive force and cruelty. He is patient, but he is pressing people towards God’s will. He makes a big distinction between God’s will and his personal gain. He is always after God’s will, relating his understanding of that will to a specific exposition of Scriptures to back up his understanding of it. Personal gain seems to be lost in his mind for the most part.

The key attribute of good leadership is their total submersion into God’s will. Unhealthy leaders speak of obeying God, but in actuality, they are projecting their own visions and desires trying to make what their people perceive as “God’s will” their desires, plans, and visions. These things seem to always be self-serving. It is “to make our church the most famous, biggest, highest attendence, make our church to be perceived as a leader among our group or all Christianity.” Rather than seeing other people and churches outside of their circle of control and influence benefitted, they must condition any “blessing” or help on people coming under their domination. When a church or leader honors others without a personal gain from that, then you can maybe see a good leader.

Good leaders want to release and empower God’s people to serve God for their own individual spiritual rewards. Instead of everything coming back to the leadership, they want their people to gather up many spiritual blessings for these church members, and they want to help them do it any way they can. Good leadership empowers their followers to serve God better (not serve the organization better). Instead of control, amplification of ministry and increase of quality is what leaders want in their people. Pastors don’t want the whole flock in their lap everytime they sit down. They want their flock to do what they do, to reproduce and produce their own particular fruit, and do it the best that is possible as far as the pastor is concerned in his abilities and in his situation.

Healthy leaders always are good listeners. Instead of dictating always (telling with no feedback nor guidance beforehand), they are open to what they say as far as opinions and helps from others.

Good leaders always see each other as men of God, one influencing the other for the kingdom. Preachers actually get spiritually blessed by hearing sermons from their assistants and other men in the church. Bad church leaders are egotistical in that they never get any blessings from others, or they never admit it except superficially. They usually only feed their own egos, and if they can somehow say something good about somebody else in their church, and that reflect back on them, then they will. But in general, leaders that are always feeding their own egos are ruined churches.

Bad People (ruining things)

The list here is very long, so I will try to survey these people. When a church member must constantly be speaking and “shining his own glory” before others, this is an arrogant and proud person. Hopefully he will not be a leader or the pastor. You can easily recognize him by his “eye trouble”. Everything in his mind is “I this”, and “I that”, and “I have done that”, and “I know better than that”, etc. He also has me and mine trouble because his mindset is never really serving others, but using others (he calls it serving though) for his own glory. His primary train of thought is how to use and manipulate others so that he can get something from them, usually self glory, but at times he takes money, power, sex, or other things. This is a false prophet influencing the church.

He also can study some part of doctrine and then come up with his own twists and turns on it, and then demand that the church honor him by bowing down to his teachings and points of views causing strife. The basic marks of this person is his haughty arrogance, which rarely works with anybody else. Teamwork is a waste of time in his mind, unless by teamwork you mean the whole team bowing and worshipping his brillance.

These bad people that ruin churches are also people who are very selfish, not very serving of others. The ease with which a person actually does humble service for somebody else is at view here. Good people make the church a place of abundant good works. Bad people want others to serve them, but their service of others is always either null (nothing), or it is conditioned by 5,000 things. The conditioning makes it mostly impossible for them to give in and serve.

Mean and critical people ruin a church. Good people have captured their sinfulness before God, and cannot be proud about themselves. But mean and critical people want to “get a leg up” on everybody else by stepping on everybody they can. Their attitude is critical and destructive at every turn they can, as long as nobody calls their hand on it. They never forgive, and only publicly say they forgive when they have to, but secretly remember and seek vengeance. These people are quick to identify errors and faults in others, and never let up on reminding people who have erred, mistakenly done something, or fallen of their fall. That gives them that good feeling that they are better than the rest. Humility is far from them. Even when they are humble, it has to be so that others can recognize their humbleness. Read Galatians 5, and you will see the contrast of first the people who ruin churches, and then the fruit of the Spirit.

I think that I have seen a lot of these kinds of people by their character of being implacable. They are always up to something that they can use to destroy others or get advantage and glory over others. Where a good person humbly serves Christ and the body of Christ without fanfare, the bad people who ruin churches are those who are constantly wanting attention to themselves and their ideas and programs for glorying before men in some way. Before God there is no reason to glory about how much money you have, or what you have accomplished or endured. These people are carnal, earthly-minded people, who seem to never think that God will take them into accounting some day. They don’t think of the things of heaven as their desire and delight, but rather they use these things for their own purposes.

Bad people are often jealous people. They tear down others because they are not the focus when somebody else does something good.

Bad Churches want a Persecution Complex

While it is true that Satan is after us individually and in corporate unity, bad churches use this in an extreme way. They have a persecution complex which goes hand-in-hand with a “we are the only obedient, faithful children of God” syndrome. When this comes across too much, you can assure yourself that you are in a ruined church.

How does the bad church use this? First of all, the persecution is an excuse for extremism and fanaticism. BECAUSE WE ARE PERSECUTED, then we have to take drastic measures, sell your house and give us the money and live in a rented place. Persecution should not change much in how the Christian lives his life. Christians should not hold on so dearly to the things of this earth. But at the same time, they should not give up their income and resources when they have divine obligations in that of supporting their own family and themselves. God wants you to work and make money to pay your bills. There is nothing unscriptural or unspiritual about paying your bills. If you choose to live in a million dollar house, and you have a $20,000/month mortage, then maybe you are out of line. We are not to live in excess luxuries either. That goes for church member as much as church leaders.

Ask yourself, is this pesecution thing an excuse to abandon the order and principles that God has laid down for us? Does my church’s leaders use it as a stick to constantly beat members for some reason? Church crises are often provoked by leaders who look ahead, who don’t use wisdom, and don’t seek first God’s will. These crises are not excused to flail the members for the leaders’ purposes. Find the door and leave if this is happening in your church.

See also

What makes a church healthy or unhealthy?
Contrasting Healthy and Unhealthy Churches

More Posts on Church

Pastor David Cox is a missionary. See my ministry updates here.