I just read an excellent article on Toxic Churches at a blog called "Seeking Justice and Reconciliation at Mars Hill Church". Mars Hill is a mega-church here in the Seattle area that is controlled by a notoriously abusive and domineering Senior Pastor named Mark Driscoll. I've experienced my share of toxic churches and Mars Hill seems to be the epitomy.
As the article--written by John Setser--explains, a church becomes toxic when it "...abandons its 'spiritual paradigm' in favor of a 'corporate mandate' that measures success in terms of ever-increasing assets. A corporate mandate is appropriate if the goal is measurable success; not so if the goal is to love God and serve people. This is because the aim of a corporate mandate is, above all else, to benefit the organization. Success for these organizations is defined in financial, material, and numeric terms. The feelings, hopes, and needs of people are of little consequence under this mandate. Of prime importance is making sure that the organization survives and thrives."
You can read the full article here.
You can also request a free copy of Setser's book, Broken Hearts, Shattered Trust by clicking here.