One sign of an unhealthy church is when they teach that almost everyone else is wrong and lost except them. It isn’t speaking of those outside Christianity, but those within. This may also be said of some of the churches within their own organization, if they belong to one.
I remember when my former United Pentecostal Church pastor would say we were the only church in the area with ‘the truth.’ Yet in the nearby town, just minutes away, was another church in our same organization. He felt that pastor was lax on standards as all those attending didn’t fall in line (as if all those attending our church did). He also sometimes spoke against our long-time District Superintendent, Wayne Trout, claiming he ‘stole’ people from our church. I was personally warned about this by him. Through the years I have heard far worse stories than the things my former pastor would do.
Besides believing that outside their doors there are few that are saved, some particularly unhealthy churches also tell their members to not go to any functions at certain churches within the same organization. The reason behind their detest for these churches may be they feel the pastor is lax on the standards, or perhaps not in line with the ‘higher’ standards he holds. It might be that they allow the use of some form of media that is taught against, like filming services. Perhaps he doesn’t like the other pastor for some personal reason. The jealousy between some ministers is a shame.
Some of these elite may even go on to a ‘preferred‘ way, a ‘better’ way, that puts distance between them and those they feel are abandoning ‘truth.’ They will uphold ‘the old paths,’ even though those alleged ‘old paths’ are not found in scripture. You can almost hear them sing, “Tradition, tradition! Tradition!”
An unhealthy church has no problem disregarding Galatians 5:13-15 as they bite and devour one another. What was it that the early Christians were known by?
13 For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. 14 For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another. (NLT)