Signs of a "Punch and Cookie" Church (one or more items seen at your church will meet criteria):
1) Pastor often says, "I wish we had more time to develop this point, but..." (Acts 20:27)
2) Pastor says, "you need to believe more, and think less." (Isaiah 1:18)
3) Pastor rarely explains the original Greek or Hebrew words used in his sermon verses. (Matthew 5:18)
4) Pastor rarely refers to the historical/cultural context of the sermon verses he quotes. (1 Kings 4:29-34)
5) Pastor prefers giving topical sermon series rather than entire book studies. (Acts 20:27)
6) Pastor rarely challenges others to question his teachings by checking the Scriptures for themselves. (I sure have been getting on the Pastors' cases so far). (Acts 17:11)
7) Church emphasizes cozy feelings and relationships, rather than "equipping the saints for the work of the ministry." (Ephesians 4:11-16).
8) Pastor is afraid to disturb status-quo of church traditions. He would rather tickle ears with "feel good" recycled stories and sermons, than to put extra effort into trying to study and go beyond today's "Christian" cultural biases. Their stories and sermons seem to bounce all over the USA more than Christmas fruit cakes that no one keeps for themselves. A "good" sermon has to do more with delivery by an entertaining speaker, rather than the actual content of the sermon (2 Timothy 4:3-5)
9) Church puts high priority on raising attendance, using the guise of ministering and/or witnessing to more people. (2 Samuel 24:1-15).
10) Church views social issues as more important than theological issues. (Matthew 11:5)
11) Few members are hot or cold regarding service of God through development and use of their spiritual gift(s), except when it comes to the least of the gifts, like "tongues," or the new "gift of laughter," which is not mentioned in Scriptures (Revelation 3:14-22)
12) "Punch and cookies" served instead of "meat and potatoes" (or is that supposed to be "bread and wine?"). (1 Corinthians 3:1-15)
13) Sermons rarely provide enough information that would require taking notes. They are actually "sermonettes for Christianettes." (1 Corinthians 3:1-15)
14) Church continues to beg for money to support ministries that are endlessly underfunded. (Luke 6:47-49; Phillipians 4:10-19)
15) Same as last point, except change "underfunded" to "overfunded."
16) Church members more often begin sentences with, "my pastor says" than with "the Bible says" (Acts 17:11).
17) Church's traditions and rules are not allowed to be questioned, since much of it is meant to hide hypocrisy. Hypocrisy occurs when one attempts to follow rules in a minimum and external way, allowing one's own heart to be far away from God due to the rule-following. Some hypocrites may look down upon you for not raising your arms in church, while others look down at you for raising them. Hypocrisy is a way to avoid personal responsibility (similar to the overused and misunderstood word called "co-dependency"). Hypocrisy can hide the gospel from unbelievers (Matthew 23:27-33; Romans 2:29).
18) In last point, substitute "raising your arms in church" with "listening to non-Christian music," "dressing or looking different," "not saying, 'praise the Lord' or other commonly used phrases," "having a beer or a glass of wine," "watching a movie or studying a Bible verse that is rated "PG" or "R," "not following certain or all of the Old Testament Laws," "not observing certain religious days." (Romans 14:1-14; Revelation 22:18-19).
19) Church members disregard the Laws of the New Covenant (love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and others as yourself) in order to satisfy themselves with their liberty in Christ (Matthew 22:36-40; 1 Corinthians 10:28-32; Galatians 5:13-18).
20) The church's automatic response to interesting but controversial or unusual topics regardless of whether or not there is Biblical evidence to support it is, "this is certainly interesting, but not important for our salvation, therefore we should not waste our time studying such things" (Hebrews 6:9; Hebrews 5:1-6:2; Proverbs 25:2).
21) Church regularly segregates familiy members from each other by their age groups for "Sunday School" or other activities, in spite of claiming to be "pro-family" (Psalms 119:100; Proverbs 1:1-8; Proverbs 13:20; Titus 2:2-10; 1st Timothy 4:12 1st Timothy 5:1-2; Mark 3:35; Luke 2:42-52; 1st John 2:12-14). Thus, the young miss out on the wisdom of the old, and the old miss out on the freshness and vigor of the young, among other losses.
22) Church tolerates and even encourages Christians who are constantly telling others "what God told them," without their words being tested or even questioned. If these "prophets" are questioned, those who questioned them are treated as "unspiritual." Also, these "prophets" don't seem to have a problem with being wrong when they are speaking as a "prophet." They think that saying God's name "in vain" only refers to using His name as a cuss word. Lucky for them that we live in the "age of grace." They would have been stoned to death for being wrong just once in Old Testament times. Christ predicted that there would one day be many "Christian" prophets, healers, miracle workers, and even those who cast out demons, who are NOT from Him. These churches could learn a very important lesson from the story, The Emperor's New Clothes, by Hans Christian Anderson, since so many of us are being conned today, just as most of those characters were in this story. (Deuteronomy 18:20; 1 John 4:1; 2 Peter 2:1; Matthew 7:21-23).
23) The Gospel, which is the good news about Jesus' death, burial, and ressurection from the dead, is not correctly preached or taught (1st Corinthians 15:1-8).
24) The preaching of man's fallen state before God, or the bad news, which has to do with each of us deserving eternal punishment for our sins, is not taught. What is the point of hearing the salvation message, if one does not think they need saving? (Romans chapter 3; 5:6-10).
25) Watering down or outright distorting God's Word into something that makes unbelievers more confortable, rather than allowing the Word to convict them of their sin (2 Tim 4:3).
I am sure that more could be added to the list. If you have another sign that is not listed, please feel free to share it by e-mailing me. If your church did not even qualify meeting even one of the above criteria, please e-mail me about it, because that is probably where God will begin to do His mighty works spiritually in the near future. I am certain that the future true Christian prophets, healers, and miracle workers will not need to defend what they will do as being supernatural and from God. What they will say and do will be so real, amazing, AND biblical, that even NON-BELIEVERS will be able to tell that it was from God, just like how unbelievers clearly recognized true miracles and prophets in the past. (John 11:47).
My purpose for writing this article was not to simply give other Christians reasons to leave their present churches or to not attend a church at all. My purpose is to stir up other Christians to try and raise the quality and standards of the churches that they currently attend, or get them to try to find a church that takes God and His Bible more seriously, or maybe even get them to work on starting a grass roots church or Bible study. Let us all get over our addiction to mediocrity, especially when it applies to our faith in God.