21 Signs of a Toxic Church

21 Signs of a Toxic Church | FromHisPresence.com

My friend, are you in proper divine alignment for this new year–and for this coming decade and the rest of your life? If not, it is absolutely urgent for you to examine every aspect of your life and get in proper alignment … especially in the area of making sure you are in a healthy church, not a toxic church.

I agonized over releasing this word today.

I didn’t want to release it; but, as I prayed, I could feel Holy Spirit pushing me strongly to do so. The long and the short of it is this: one of the biggest things that people get delivered from in our live events is church hurt, church wounds, and toxic church experiences.

Freedom from church hurt is absolutely essential if people are going to grow in the Lord, because YOU HAVE TO BE IN CHURCH TO GROW … and who wants to be in church if they’re so hurt from a toxic church experience that they can’t even darken the door of a church without trauma?

Yet, no one in church leadership usually wants to talk about church wounds.

Related: Read my blog series about healing from church wounds for help with the healing process in the aftermath of church wounds.

It seems to be the “politically correct” thing to do to pretend that nobody gets hurt in church. Nobody wants to speak the truth because, in my opinion:

  1. Nobody wants any of their friends in ministry to think they’re talking about one specific church; and
  2. Nobody wants their friends in ministry to get mad at them.

And to be perfectly honest, I don’t want my friends in ministry to be mad at me either. And I don’t want any of my friends who attend or lead various churches to think I’m talking about them. I get the hesitation and the caution, and that’s why I haven’t said some of the things before that I am going to say today.

But you know what else? 

If I am going to be an agent of deliverance and help people know the truth, which makes them free, then I have to be a teller of truth and a writer of truth.

And being a teller of truth is not always easy.

So before you read this, let me first say that:

  1. I’m speaking the truth today because being under a toxic (read: demonic) church covering is one of the most destructive things that people can experience in their Christian walk; and
  2. God’s people need to be free from church wounds, church hurts, demonic spiritual covering, and toxicity of every kind; and
  3. I love you, my readers, enough to tell you the truth so that you CAN be free.

I’m not taking a cheap shot–or any kind of shot at all–at any particular church. As I wrote this list today, I wept before the Lord and cried out to Him in intercession for churches and pastors who are trapped in this web of demonization and demonic activity that I list below.

My heart breaks for the Body of Christ, and for every local church that is not functioning in God’s highest and best for them. I love the local church

But the fact remains that some shepherds are wolves in sheep’s clothing and are leading the Body astray, controlling them, or otherwise crippling them. And we would be embracing a lie if we in the Church did not admit this publicly.

Truth must come before healing.

That is why I believe the Lord asked me to release this list. And I believe I share the Lord’s heart for you on this matter when I say that one of my highest wishes for you as we start the new year is this:

If you’re in a toxic church, GET OUT. And find a new church that is healthy and holy.


Because a toxic church will destroy your life, and you won’t even know it’s being destroyed. Being in a toxic church places you under an evil covering. THIS MEANS YOU ARE SUBMITTING TO DEMONS, and you may think “The demons are their demons, so they don’t impact me,” but if you think that you are wrong.

So here are 21 signs of a toxic church or pastor (and the pronoun “he” could be equally applied to “she”):

  1. The pastor is in charge, not Holy Spirit.
  2. The pastor is “right,” instead of the Word being right.
  3. The clock, the sermon, the announcements, the schedule, and the written worship order get highest preference in the service, regardless of what Holy Spirit is doing or showing that He wants to do.
  4. The pastor practices cronyism. In other words, it’s how much you suck up to the pastor that gets you friendship, high esteem, opportunity, discipleship, endorsement, etc—instead of your godly character and the fruit of your life being what matters.
  5.  Everyone who leaves gets blacklisted.
  6. The pastor “interviews” you for information about other people, making you feel special because he shared confidential information with you. (But what you don’t realize is that he’s doing the same thing about you with other people.)
  7. People are removed from leadership without being told why or what they did wrong.
  8. The pastor uses the pulpit as a whipping post to talk badly to and about people he will not confront in person.
  9. The church uses people up and then throws them away or spits them out. (For example, the church involuntarily “retires” elderly staff who are still competent because it wants to be staffed with a younger crowd. Often this leaves the elderly minister without honor or financial provision).
  10. Chronic financial problems.
  11. Prayer is not emphasized and practiced, both privately and corporately.
  12. The pastor accuses you of doing, saying, and thinking things that you are not doing, saying, or thinking—but which **he** IS doing, saying, or thinking.
  13. The pastor believes there is an age limit on the anointing.
  14. The pastor and staff lie.
  15. People are preached to, but not discipled and raised up to do the work of the ministry.
  16. The pastor openly opposes and even mocks the work of Holy Spirit.
  17. No one is encouraged to build an independent ministry except the pastor and his cronies.
  18. Women are not equipped and empowered to operate in leadership.
  19. The pastor believes that some of the gifts of the Spirit (e.g. prophecy, miracles, diverse tongues) no longer operate today.
  20. Belief that any of the five-fold ministry offices (apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher) are no longer relevant and necessary in the church today.

And the #1 sign of a toxic church, even more important than all of the things listed above, is:

The pastor and leaders do not preach and believe that the Bible is the innerrant, infallible Word of God.

I could go on, but you get the picture.

If you and your family are under a covering such as this, IT IS KILLING YOUR SPIRITUAL LIFE, finances, and family, even if you don’t know it. Please, please, I beg of you in the name of Jesus, remove yourself from submission to demons and leave that church.

As soon as you leave, immediately and verbally renounce your agreement with the covering you have been under—and verbally renounce, reject, and break the covering itself— and bind yourself to Jesus. Command every evil thing to leave you in Jesus’ name and ask Jesus to fill you with His Spirit where those things were.

Then find a holy and healthy church that both preaches and practices the Word of God, and which worships God the Father, God the Son, AND God the Holy Spirit.


If this blog post helped you, please leave a comment below.


  1. ROBIN RUSH says:

    I’ve experienced nearly all of these things in the churches I’ve attended. I’ve been anointed as a Prophet and it is difficult to be comfortable in these type of settings. Scripture says “But you have an anointing from the Holy One [you have been set apart, specially gifted and prepared by the Holy Spirit], and all of you know [the truth because He teaches us, illuminates our minds, and guards us from error]” 1 John 2:20 AMP. I am attending a church now where the Pastor is open to the working of the Holy Spirit.

  2. Really needed this , agin confirmation we needed to leave and leave and leave again,,, are there any good churches left?

    1. There sure are. The Lord will show you where to go. I recommend:
      1) Trying all churches within driving distance until you find one that fits the Word
      2) Moving to another city to be in a good church if you have to
      3) Starting a church if you can’t find a good church
      4) Joining a church that streams online as an absolute last resort until you do one of the first 3 options.
      It’s that important! The Lord will help you; let Him lead you and He will!

    2. Great exposition! I quite agree with you on all of these points. May God continue to increase you in Jesus name

    3. Donna Gordon says:

      Lee, this word is so right on time. I was praying and asking God. What do he want me to do? I checked my email and this is my confirmation….to God be the GLORY!!!!!

  3. My daughter left her faith because of a painful experience and thinks all Christians are fakes. Until now, she has not returned to Christ. It was a time that I myself was going through similar experience but by God’s grace was able to leave with my faith in Him fully in place Please pray for my daughter P that she returns to her First Love. Many thanks for this post Jamie.

    1. Just because she left a church doesn’t mean she has left Christ. I pray she will find the truth. I have been there and after 12 years I have not found a church, but I have found the truth, Christ. Jesus did not come to start a denomination, but a family of followers. Pray that she gets hungry for the truth. by the way many times church abuse is not just from the pulpit.

  4. I totally agree with this list!

  5. You’ve confirmed so many things yet again Jamie .. May God prosper you as you take a stand on THE TRUTH XX

  6. Barbara Hargrove says:

    Dear Woman of God , I cannot explain how my heart burst with blessing and freedom from the delivering that the GOOD LORD revelated to you for us Thank you and May GOD Bless you all the days of your life Amen ,

  7. I couldn’t agree more! Many times I’ve shared these words. Friends have tried to stick it out in their old church because they’ve been there so long and change for most people is hard. They think that them being their can help things change. I’m telling you: Unless you know with absolute certainty that the Lord wants to to stay, then don’t! If you wait, it will be like being in the middle of a field that’s being struck by lightning in a summer storm. Seek shelter when you see the signs and hear the thunder! Don’t wait for the storm to arrive! The longer you stay, the easier it will be for you to become blind to the truth! You will become as one deceived by the enemy. You will become like them; eventually, He will send a delusion. How could that happen?

    Why is it so important to stand against the enemy and to break ties with those who reject the Gospel that Yeshua preached? Why is it so important to be counted among brethren who believe the gifts the Holy Spirit gave Believers are still gifts to seek and become strong in today? Why is it important to separate from those who reject the Gifts and who reject the work of both men and women in the ministry, who reject Titus 2 relationships, and who reject the very works the Holy Spirit leads the Body to do?

    Those who reject His Holy Spirit reject HIM! Those who reject the works of the Holy Spirit reject Him! Those who reject His plan may not realize it, but they are, also, rejecting Him! Those who reject His Chosen reject Him. That’s a dangerous place to be—pride comes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.

    These toxic church people believe only their brand of “seminary school“ offers leadership—not the Holy Spirit—not discipleship! They believe if you don’t attend their seminary, you know nothing about the written Word and have no authority to teach or preach—even if you went to seminary, it wasn’t a “real” seminary school unless their name was on the building—more importantly—you haven’t made a vow to adhere to their doctrine and their principles. They believe your calling or your mission isn’t “real” unless you go with them and through their denomination. They will not “labor” with those who are unwilling to bow to their plans and restrictions. They believe only they hold the key to the narrow gate and only their select few knows what God is speaking. (Anyone else is scoffed at and considered prideful!)

    They believe that the written Bible is the “that which is perfect;” therefore, gifts ceased when it was put into print—except for the gifts they need in order for them to be lifted up, at their convenience.

    Bottom line, anyone that disagrees with their vow to their doctrinal principles (ones that don’t even line up with the Bible) to them is filled with pride—and this should be cleansed from their “church.” In other words, bow to them or you’re nothing! Just see what happens if you try to show them what the Bible actually says! They will always have many words that they were taught in their seminary school or that were driven into their knowledge bank by some man who went to seminary in order to manipulate you back to their doctrinal principles. To be sure, at the very least, you will be “prayed for” aka gossiped about behind your back—they will blame you for causing division or creating strife if you were to persist in speaking the truth. Unless God calls you to pull down altars, it’s much better to just get out of that evil place and seek a place where the The Living Word is leading!

    I’ll add one other aspect of a toxic environment: money, money, money! As with all evil, if necessary, follow the money; If what they are calling a church refuses to disclose finances of what leadership is being paid, flee! Leaders who get paid should always be willing to disclose the amount—it’s called “accountability.”

    We are to be filled with His Holy Spirit, clothed in His righteousness, Worshiping Him, confessing our sins one to another, using the Gifts for the others to know Him and to edify the Body, seeking Him in all ways, and must know without a doubt that we ARE the Church—we don’t “go to church!” We are the CHURCH!

  8. Henrietta says:

    I have personally experienced this and I thank God for leading me to a good church. It grieves my heart to think about the kind of hold, power and control such pastors and churches exert over believers when our LORD GOD Himself doesn’t control us, His children when He is God.
    My family has suffered a lot due to this, please pray for restoration and healing in our relationships from all the harm that was caused by them.

    Thank you Jamie for writing about it, people do need to be warned about it. Many are not aware of the dangers in following churches that may look like other churches on the outside but are not aligned with God or allowing the Holy Spirit to operate inside their church. We need to pray that all the churches in the Body of Christ will follow God in Spirit and in Truth and follow His ways in everything.

  9. Dorrett Moncrieffe says:

    I have experience this, I am in a church for 14 years the Bishop was called by God to establish another church in another city. So he got a Pastor to come in to run this local body. Just to cut a long story short, he did all of the 21 signs, and not only that he started a church within the church. He got there in 2016 and register a church in 2017, while still operating as the Host Pastor. Long story short the Bishop kindly ask him to leave, he did and some of the members went with him. we are back on track, healing and deliverance is taking place

  10. Olubukola Adedoyin says:

    Thank you so much for this post came at just the right time, I was just praying to God for clarity concerning my local church which by the way almost half its members have gone. I told the holy spirit to reveal what was actually going on as I don’t want to enter 2021 into the backward church and today I saw your email and clicked right away. What a word for the mopmemt! God is faithful! THANK YOU FOR OPENING MY EYES!!

  11. Thankyou Jamie …..yes…..I agree and have seen those traits as well…..I questioned it a lot …. bless you for being obedient and helping those who did not even think to question things … we all need to be on watch …..gratitude

  12. Oh wow! This is so interesting because I’m in a place where I haven’t been happy for a few years now, but also don’t want to be out of what God wants for me so never left (although my attendance was low) but I’ve been praying SO much for Gods guidance because I have a family and leaving is not just about me, but I am struggling. I’ve definitely seen some of these traits but not all of them because I do believe my Pastor is a true man of God, but I’ve tried to serve God here (and apart from one area where I can do something) I’ve had my wings clipped, talked down to, not viewed as “spiritual” enough and it’s been so toxic for me. I’m not perfect at all but just really want me and my family to serve God in the best way possible… and to grow too…

  13. Randy Wilson says:

    I have attended church after church after church after church after church over decades. Pastors who are a problem are easy to deal with. Go somewhere else. But what is SO common is toxic church members. Just disagree slightly with spiritual leaders or long time members and you will be thought of as someone who has something wrong with them. You become someone that members tolerate but those same members prefer you move on. Love and forgiveness and simple friendship are absolutely difficult to find in ANY church.

  14. Ruwani Wickramaratna says:

    Hi Jamie

    I live in Sri Lanka…The Born Again Christians are less than 1 Percent of the Population..and now as a result of a False Prophet -A Wanted man in Zambia being brought in…the 2 Big Churches are at War with each other….I am hurting, grieved because I got hurt in the Church badly….It’s only my Online friends I speak to…and they mainly live in the US….pls pray for me and for James…..who has been very damaged in the church Jamie….Please thank you.

    1. Thank you for letting us know we can reach you in your home country 🙂
      We will pray for your situation. I’m sorry you are dealing with that hurt.

  15. Thank you Jamie for this word. I too have been wounded in Dysfunctional Churches! This should not be the case among the Body of Christ, but I am praying that the Lord restore the Church!!!

  16. Great awareness about wolves in sheep clothing. I experienced wickedness with a former pastor in wolve clothing. Twice he described my home & lifestyle into a sermon I mean vividly describing my living room, my wardrobe, how I organized my makeup, to my garage size. Then he sneakily described my than man. My heart sunk because in two sermons two Sundays in a row. I was talked about in front of four hundred church members. I confronted my ex & explained how uncomfortable I was for those two weeks wondering what game was being played. He covered his mouth & said “ your pastor is a friend of mine. I thought nothing of his questions regarding you during our lunch”. I immediately ended the relationship & never stepped foot back into that disgrace church!

  17. Really good vlog, very interesting thanks Jamie

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