Have you ever watched a movie, or spent time with a certain person, and thought "I am now literally dumber for having had that experience?" (See above video clip.)
Can that same principle apply to churches? Is it possible that there is actually such a thing as a church that sends people away worse Christians than when they arrived?
Apparently so. Paul tells the Corinthians in 1 Cor 11:17, "you come together not for the better but for the worse." Such churches are poison. They are toxic.
What characteristics define the "toxic church?" If Hebrews 10 tells us why we should assemble together (to stir up love and good works, and exhort one another) then I suppose the "toxic church" does just the opposite:
1) Instead of stirring up love for God and one another, members of a toxic church stir up strife, envy, and selfishness.
2) Instead of stirring up good works (holiness) in one another, "works of the flesh" spread like a cancer in the toxic church: adultery, fornication, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, drunkenness, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, heresies, etc.
3) Instead of exhorting (challenging) one another, and holding one another accountable, members of a toxic church turn the other way when fellow members are engaged in sin. They think, "What business is it of mine?"
Is there such a thing as a church that sends people away worse Christians than when they arrived? Yep. The toxic church. If you are in such a church, pray for God's direction. If He does not impress on you to stay and help reform it (which He may do), then go find a new church that loves God, loves people, and is faithful to the Word.