We had the misfortune the other day of having to speak to our pastor about some of our concerns in the church. She just wouldn't listen. To everything we brought up, she countered with “I believe that I am led by the Holy Spirit and every decision I take is led by the Holy Spirit.” It was very difficult to get a break through. My question is, “Do people intentionally set out to deceive people or does a spirit of deception control them so that they are totally unaware that what they are doing is unscriptural. Is this how cults are formed?”
No, most pastors do not set to intentionally deceive the church congregation. The vast majority of pastors care for their people – some more than others. But there are some who like Diotrephes care more about themselves than others. Listen to the description of this church leader.
I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say. For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, neither does he himself receive the brethren, and he forbids those who desire to do so, and puts them out of the church. Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God. (NASB) 3 John 9-11
Diotrephes was self-centered and apparently used his position as a pastor to control the people. It is no different today in some churches.
Some pastors and leaders deceive others because they are deceived. Some do this intentionally and others do it unintentionally. 2 Timothy says that in the last days,
. . . evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. (NASB) 2 Timothy 3:13
Things will get worse, including the church. But the more usual pattern is described by Paul.
I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. (NASB) Acts 20:29-30
Notice he says they are seeking a following. Some pastors are more interested in seeking a following than in anything else. They will do what they must in order to accomplish their goal. When this occurs, a cult is starting.
Here is the heart God wants in a pastor.
We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always (b)seek after that which is good for one another and for all people. Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything a)give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (NASB) 1 Thessalonians 5:14-18
We will ask God to give you guidance!