Charles Lester wrote a list of cultic tendencies (originally posted Oct. 1991 in Spiritual Counterfeits Project newsletter) which can be viewed in full online at the Battered Sheep website. The entire list can be found here. Below are the items that hit a nerve with me.
It's interesting how some abusive pastors are so keen on their Almighty Image and do everything possible to avoid the appearance of having imperfections. Little do they know that weakness, humility, imperfections only draw people closer to them when they are vulnerable - showing that they, too, are human, and on the journey of love and grace which cover a multitude of sins.
- Is your pastor fully accountable to a board of elders, presbyters, etc.?
- Is loyalty to Jesus and to one's own calling placed before loyalty to pastor and church?
- Does your pastor encourage questions and suggestions? Is he approachable?
- Does your pastor readily admit his errors?
- Is your pastor truly humble?
- Is power shared in your church (rather than preempted by a hierarchy)?
- Does your church see itself as just one organ of the Body of Christ, and not the main one?
- Are church members encouraged and loved even when they leave?
- Are relationships with former members encouraged or allowed?
- Do the pastor and congregation avoid attacking and using as object lessons, former members or those who disagree?
- Are you happy to bring unsaved friends to your church?
- Are people encouraged to hear from God for themselves?
- Is the joy of the Lord present in your church?
- Do you think more about God and Jesus than you do about your pastor and church?
- Does your pastor include himself in any calls for repentance and forgiveness?
- Are you clear that the pastors and elders never exaggerate or lie to make themselves look good?