Toxic Culture

Toxic Culture


Culture is the Key

These points are based on what I have been told by the young people I interviewed, and by successful leaders and pastors. The reason many young people leave mainline churches is the feeling of being poisoned. They can’t wait to get out of toxic churches fast enough and they never want to go back again, even if they later drop out of Pentecostal/Charismatic churches.

Stan Stewart
The culture of a TOXIC trad church typically focuses on:   Contrast this with a culture which encourages youth and builds their interest and involvement.
A club atmosphere with an emphasis on ‘niceness’

  Never offend anyone and peace at any price
  An inward looking circle in which courtesy and politeness highly esteemed
  Pleasant relationships but hardly any sharing at depth
  Same age talk with same age


  An atmosphere of ‘welcome’ 
and ‘honesty’

  Outward reaching with acceptance of difference of opinions and dress
  Friendships which spread across all-ages
  Disagreements and debate are commonplace
  People are encouraged and enabled to share at depth
  Friendships are close, strong and durable


Worship that pleases and suits older people

  Music they like
  Services they are used to
  A select few control/direct the music and worship


  Worship that can be understood and related to by young and old

  Sermons are life related and tell it like it is
  Many people contribute in the leadership
  A variety of music and a variety of musical instruments
  A mixture of trad services and experimental services


No surprises

  Programmes and worship the same from year to year
  Rigid structures and in-built inertia against sudden changes
  Everybody in their place and everyone knows their place
  No challenges to authority
  Everything and everyone keeps to budget


  Willing to risk

  A willingness to try programmes which may not succeed
  Authority can be challenged and leadership is shared
  Flexibility/adaptability and a willingness to cope with chaos
  Budgets seen as guides but not straightjackets


Keeping up appearances

  Buildings matter more than people
  Everything clean and tidy
  Nicely kept gardens and flower arrangements are crucial
  Dignity and order, and if possible, a well robed, educated ministry


  Buildings and facilities are 
there to be used

  Wear and tear expected and accepted
  Untidiness and graffiti, while not welcome, are coped with
  Some exterior signs/symbols welcoming to young people


THIS CHURCH CULTURE IS TOXIC FOR YOUNG PEOPLE.In fact, this culture stifles growth in all ages, including the senior age.   THIS CHURCH CULTURE WILL ENCOURAGE YOUNG LIFE AND YOUNG PEOPLE.This culture will encourage growth in all ages, including in their senior years.