Crucial Moment: People Think Your Church is a Cult

Crucial Moment: People Think Your Church is a Cult

Crucial Moment: People Think Your Church is a Cult

Enjoy this excerpt from Steve Backlund’s Crucial Moments about how to respond as a leader in this unique church situation. 


You have family and friends who think you have joined a cult. They send you links to website articles on a daily basis which “expose” the false teachings and practices of your church to try to get you to see the error of your ways. Additionally, they send you videos of people associated with your ministry acting in bizarre ways to further prove their point. These family members and friends say you are being deceived. The initial reactions to this situation can be many and painful, but this crucial moment is an opportunity to grow in so many important parts of your life.


  • You get to nail down what you really believe Scripture says about key areas of doctrine that relate to other people’s questions and concerns.
  • You have the opportunity to decide your own path with God.
  • This is a chance to grow in your love and wisdom toward those who are criticizing what you are doing.


  • Acts 17:11 “[The Bereans] received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.”
  • 1 Corinthians 2:4-5 “And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 “ Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.”


  1. Believe and promote the basic doctrines of Scripture – There are central beliefs in Christianity which cannot be compromised. These include: 1) The authority of the Scripture as the final word on all areas of life (2 Timothy 3:16-17). 2) The deity of Christ – Jesus is God (John 14:6), 3) The path of salvation and eternal life is through faith in Christ alone, not good works (Acts 4:12, Ephesians 2:8-9).
  2. Understand forerunner ministries and leaders are often criticized – A study of church history reveals a pattern where times of spiritual revival were criticized and sometimes persecuted by those who were transformed by a previous revival. Almost every Christian denomination was thought to be heretical at first by those who did not embrace the new things being released. Most of these denominations now are considered orthodox in their beliefs and practices. Read articles or a book about church history in order to stir up faith in your current spiritual movement.
  3. Let your life be the best defense of the church or group you are a part of – In 1 Peter 3:1, wives who have unbelieving husbands are told to live in such a way before that their husbands “may be won by the conduct of their wives.” In other words, live in a way that wins the trust and respect of those you want to influence. As we interact with families and others who may have concerns about what we are a part of, realize the best answer to their questions is a transformed life of love, integrity, and purity. Avoid picking a fight or “proving” something. Your transformed life can often be the message that speaks loudest.


  • God always shows up when friends and family think my church is a cult.
  • The Holy Spirit leads me in my interpretation of the Bible.
  • I make powerful decisions regarding the ministries I connect with in my life.

About Crucial Moments

This book helps us upgrade how we think, act, and most importantly, believe in those crucial moments when:

  • You feel nervous about speaking in public
  • Your house is a mess when people come over
  • A politician whose beliefs oppose yours is elected
  • You gain more weight than you thought
  • You don’t feel like worshipping

…and 47 other opportunities for breakthrough.

About Steve Backlund

Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.