A friend keeps trying to get me to go to her church (at least I guess it's a church, although they don't call themselves one). I can't help but thinking it might be a cult, though, and I don't want to go down that road. How will I know?
You’re wise to be cautious; non-Christian cults and pseudo-Christian groups seem to be flourishing today just as much as they ever have. The Bible warns, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).
How can you tell if a group is a cult? Let me mention two questions you need to ask. First, what do they believe about the Bible? Is it, and it alone, God’s Word? Or have they added to it (e.g., by the writings of their founder)? Second, what do they believe about Christ? Is He alone the divine Son of God, sent from heaven to save us from our sins? Or must we save ourselves by our own good works or religious deeds? The Bible says, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
The real issue for you, however, is this: What does Jesus Christ mean to you? God loves you; He loves you so much that He sent His Son into the world to die for you. Your first step should be to turn to Jesus and by faith open your heart and life to Him.
Then ask God to lead you to a church where you’ll definitely grow spiritually, through hearing God’s Word and having fellowship with other believers. God bless you.