Several years ago, I had some friends over for dinner. Things were going well…until everyone took their first bite of food. I had no idea they were toxic church members. You see, I decided to fire up the grill and cook some burgers. I went through the usually grilling routine. I’d grilled dozens of times before. Slap on the meat. Flip a few times. Voila.
When everyone sunk their teeth into the burgers, blood flowed worse than the time I nearly sliced off my finger. After a few awkward stares, I realized what happened. In a moment of sheer embarrassment, I got up from my chair and grabbed some deli turkey from the fridge.
Random question: Why is the person who makes the mistake always the last one to realize it?
Anyway, no one at the table even considered trying my “straight from the meat section” burgers. Why? Just one bite of uncooked meat is toxic to the body and could result in an appointment with “Mr. John.”
What is true of meat is also true of the church. A few toxic Christians can impact an entire church. So, I want to highlight some toxic Christians in the church today. The following Christians describe me at various points in my Christian journey. Understand something. This post is really about self-reflection. My prayer is that you will identify some of these toxic behaviors in your life and, like myself, make some changes.
Here Are 10 Types of Toxic Church Members
1. The “always cynical” Christian.
Cynicism is toxic. From a general lack of trust towards people to the inability to see good in anything, cynicism has the power to infect every arena of life.
Many Christians, starting with me, master the art of pointing out the bad from a young age. For much of my Christian journey, I thought it was my job to find the errors in everything from sermons to the lives of those around me. I was like a stealth ninja. My only job was to make sure every mistake was pointed out. And after finding the errors, my friends and I would gather for a time of “reflection.”
It was really an exercise of self-glorification.
Here’s the problem with cynicism: as long as it’s your default perspective, you can’t be a catalyst for change. Not for the good, at least. And I say “perspective” because cynicism is all about how you see things. You and I can look at the same person, situation, etc., and see two different things. The only difference is the filter through which we see it.
If you are a Christian, everything you believe in and look forward to is anchored in hope, and the breath that gives life to hope is optimism. God refused to give up on you because of hope. Jesus came to this world because of hope. One day every man and woman who loves God will live eternally with him because of hope.
Now, I understand what you might be thinking. There is a difference between cynicism and critical thinking. Here it is. Cynics look at the worst in every situation, never desiring to make things better. Critical thinkers recognize the evil and ugly, but always choose to focus on something redeeming. They always operate out of hope, and they are always in the trenches trying to make things better.
To put it another way, cynics focus on what something is. Critical thinkers focus on what something could be.
The church is desperate for men and women who will choose to focus on the redeeming qualities of the church. After all, God sees the redeeming qualities in us. Even when we are at our worst.