Introduction

There are a number of churches out there.  However, some churches serve God and Jesus better than others.  Some churches serve very poorly and are churches to avoid, or Ichabod churches.

And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband. (1 Samuel 4:21)

Note that on this page, when I refer to churches, that it is individual congregations.

 Here are some characteristics of such churches:

The Church Does Not Teach How to Be Saved
The Church Does Not Teach that Christ Is the Only Way to Heaven
The Church Does Not Teach the Inerrancy of the Original Scriptures
The Church Attacks Christ
The Church Doesn't Teach the Bible
The Church Is Abusive
The Church Is Too Seeker-Sensitive
The Church Is Part of a Pseudo-Christian Cult
The Church Does Not Teach God's Laws
The Church Teaches the Prosperity Gospel

how to be savedThe Church Does Not Teach How to Be Saved

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:19-20)

This is the most important purpose of the church.  If the church does not teach their attendees how to be saved, it is condemning the congregants to hell, just having them enjoy the path there.  Believe it or not, there are churches like this.  This is one church to avoid!

Note that this includes the social gospel:  events such as soup kitchens, night shelters, etc. but never presenting the gospel to people that come to these events.

See also my page on How to Go to Heaven.

The Church Does Not Teach that Christ Is the Only Way to Heaven

Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:5-6)

Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:10-12)

Many churches do teach multiple ways to get to heaven.  This is a heresy and a false teaching.  This is another church to avoid.

See also my sub-page on Christ being the only way.

Bible scrollThe Church Does Not Teach the Inerrancy of the Original Scriptures

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:  And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. (Revelation 22:18-19)

Teaching that the Bible is incorrect in areas opens a can of worms.  After all, if the Bible is in error in places, could it also be in error as far as how to be saved?

See also my pages on the Truth of Scripture.

attacks ChristThe Church Attacks Christ

Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. (Colossians 1:13-20)

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11)

Some churches actually attack Christ!  This is definitely a church to avoid like the plague!!

teach the bibleThe Church Doesn't Teach the Bible

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Timothy 4:2-4)

Churches that fall into this category may teach primarily about things such as politics or civil rights; while sermons may occasionally touch on such things or other current events, if the majority of the preaching is extra-Biblical, it is a church to avoid.

Note that while issues such as politics and civil rights may be important ones, they are better handled by organizations that deal specifically with them.  Churches need to concentrate on making Christian disciples of their attendees.

See also my page on Bible is God's Word.

The Church Is Abusive

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. (Romans 6:14)

Many of these abusive churches are legalistic.  For example, such churches teach "You are not a Christian if you do ..." or "You are not a Christian unless you do ..."

The Church Is Too Seeker-Sensitive

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:19-20)

For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.  For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. (Hebrews 5:12-13)

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Timothy 2:3-4)

Note that this sub-section is not talking about churches that welcome lost people seeking to learn about salvation. It is talking about churches that are so welcoming and sensitive to lost people that the churches water down their teachings and/or sermons. There is a fine line here!

If the Matthew 28:19-20 passage had said to go therefore and make believers of all nations, then a seeker-sensitive church would be ideal.  Some of these churches can become quite large; however, if the church only feeds milk and not meat, as the Hebrews 5:12-13 passage states, the new Christians will not grow.

This is not to say that the men need to wear dark suits with white shirts and red ties and women long dresses; however, the teaching needs to be Biblical.  It is certainly okay for the church to invite those seeking the faith; the church becomes one to avoid when the desire to bring seekers comes at the expense of Christians there.

The Church Is Part of a Pseudo-Christian Cult

Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:5-6)

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

See also my page on How to Go to Heaven.

This is the worst church of all:  such a church will condemn you to eternity in hell.  Basically, for a pseudo-Christian cult, somebody takes Biblical Christianity, empties it of some or all of its Christian content, adds his own teaching, mixes in Christian words and phrases, and markets this as a new revelation from God.  Such churches include Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses, the Unification Church, and others.

gods lawsThe Church Does Not Teach God's Laws

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-19)

For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. (Jude 4)

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. (Romans 6:14-15)

(For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. (Romans 5:13)

This would be antinomianism, where for the most part, the Bible to be used is from the book of Acts forward, as the rest of the Bible talks about those under the Law.  Although we are under grace (Romans 6:14-15), this by no means states that we should throw out the Law.  After all, how do we determine if our action is a sin if we do not know what constitutes a sin?  Therefore, a church that does not teach God's Law is a church to avoid.

See also the other pages on Bible Living.

prosperity gospelThe Church Teaches the Prosperity Gospel

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. (John 15:18-20)

Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:57-60)

Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.) And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people. (Acts 12:1-4)

And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. (Hebrews 11:36-38)

The Prosperity Gospel teaches that, if you have enough faith, you will be healthy and wealthy.  If this were true, then Stephen, James the brother of John (the two martyrs recorded in Scripture), and countless others must have lacked faith!

We could mention today Christians in places such as North Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia.  If these people lacked faith, they would leave Christianity rather than face the level of persecution that they do.

I could go on, but this should be enough to show that the prosperity gospel is a false doctrine.  Therefore, a church that teaches this is another church to avoid.

See also my page on persecution and on the Prosperity Gospel.

The Church Accepts Unrepentant Sin

 And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. (Luke 13:2-5)

Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. (Matthew 18:15-17)

It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person. (1 Corinthians 5:1-13)

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? (Romans 6:1-2)

Note that this is not to say to avoid a church that accepts a sinner.  If a church that accepts sinners were a church to avoid, this would be an extremely short page:  All of them!  Page done! Also, this does not mean that an unrepentant sinner cannot visit the church and worship there.  The church that I am talking about here is a church that accepts an unrepentant sinner as a member or as a leader.

See also my page on licentiousness.

Conclusion

There are churches to avoid, such as those presented above.  If you continue to attend such a church, after knowing that it is a church to avoid, you are part of the problem, not the solution:  you are supporting such a church with your worship, prayers, tithing, etc.

Finding a new church may require some sacrifice, such as taking the time to find a better church, driving farther to attend a better church, etc.  But Christianity is about sacrifices, not the path of least resistance.  Jesus went all the way from heaven to Earth to die for our sins; can you not drive a few extra minutes to attend a church that glorifies God?