Home > Uncategorized > Too Many Hypocrites in Church? That's No Excuse to Miss Worship!

Too Many Hypocrites in Church? That's No Excuse to Miss Worship!

By Richard Zowie

When you look at church directories throughout the years, the families come and go. Some stay at the church, their kids grow up, get married and sometimes remain at the church to start families of their own. Even in as little as two years’ time you can view the directory and see members that have long since left.This is something I especially grew accustomed to growing up in a small South Texas town, which used to be the location of a Navy base. Military personnel came and went at our church, mostly because their next duty assignment took them elsewhere. We’d also have families that would leave for work, decide to attend another church in town, and so on.

This fluctuation of membership is something I’ve seen at all the churches I’ve attended. One thing I have noticed is that each church has its members who decide to quit attending for one central reason: “There are too many hypocrites in the church,” they argue.

As a person who has at times been out of church, I find this excuse as useful as that ageless “My dog ate my homework” excuse. Or as lame as the “Honey, I can explain!” a person might say when their spouse has caught them in a moment of indiscretion.

Too many hypocrites?

Welcome to the real world. Hypocrites are all too common in this world screwed up by Adam and Eve’s decision in the Garden of Eden to disobey God by eating the forbidden fruit.

What exactly is a hypocrite? The Merriam-Webster has two definitions: 1) a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion; 2) a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings. In the King James Bible, the word hypocrite occurs 11 times-eight times in the Old Testament and three times in the New Testament. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word is chaneph (or חנף). According to Strong’s Concordance, chaneph can mean hypocritical, godless, profane or irreligious. In the New Testament, and this is where things get really interesting, the word hypocrite comes from the Greek word is hypokritēs (or ὑποκριτής ). This fascinating word has three definitions: 1) one who answers, an interpreter; 2) an actor, stage player; 3) a dissembler, pretender, hypocrite. In the three times “hypocrite” is used in the New Testament, Jesus is addressing the Pharisees and how they make big deals out of nothing while ignoring the parts of the Word of God that truly matter. In short, the Pharisees were being hypocrites.

Our English word hypocrite, therefore, comes from the Greek word hypokritēs, commonly used for “actor.” After all, an actor gets on stage or before a camera and pretends to be someone they’re really not. The American actor Robert DeNiro, for example, often plays violent criminals in his movies. In one movie, Cape Fear, DeNiro played a Georgia-born rapist who did lots and lots of talking. However, DeNiro, a native New Yorker, is said to be polite, shy and quiet in real life. Just as DeNiro makes a living pretending to be other people, others in church do it because following God is a daily challenge that they (and I) often fail at.


Yes, there are hypocrites in the church. To be honest, I would say there have been many times where I would be guilty as charged.

But when you think about it, the world is filled with hypocrites.

In the Army, I knew of sergeants who, despite their hair constantly looking like they were about a week past due on a haircut, would nitpick soldiers and tell them they needed to get trimmed. At one job in Texas, I was lectured about not using the company e-mail system to send friendly messages to work colleagues who were friends. A short time later, the supervisor used company e-mail to send me one of those annoying e-mail chain letters.

Then there have been the doctors I’ve had who would assure me a shot wouldn’t hurt-it did.

There was the Internet service company that assured me I would be compensated for an error on their part-I wasn’t. There was the auto parts store that prides itself on service but wouldn’t take back an alternator (our original alternator turned not be the culprit for our engine problems). There were the people I’ve known who would seem so nice to others but yet be complete jerks in private. Again, I’ve been guilty of this also.

And yes, there are hypocrites at church. I can remember being the anti-social person in the service (back when my people skills were really lousy). A female soldier from my company visited my church. Because I didn’t really know her, I didn’t acknowledge it. She told a friend, and my actions-10 years later-still are a source of deep regret.

Also I’ve known musically-talented people at college who, though often called to sing in front of church, seemed to have major issues in their private life. I’ve known Bible majors who are now out of the ministry, and I’ve known of men who’ve split churches. There have also been the Jim Bakkers and Jimmy Swaggarts who preached holiness but yet got into sexual indiscretions. I remember one minister who preached endlessly about how former President Bill Clinton should be removed from office due to his disgraceful actions in the Monica Lewinsky Affair. Well, as it turns out, this minister himself was an adulterer.

Yet, despite all of this, I still visit the doctor and get shots when needed, consult with attorneys, go to the store, use the Internet and so forth.

Yes, there are too many hypocrites at church. But let me ask you this question: Are you really going to let a hypocrite cheat you out of fellowshipping with other Christians and furthering your walk with God?

Life is filled with two-faced people. Get over it and realize that life is unfair. You need to determine that you will serve God to the best of your abilities regardless of the obstacles placed before you. Please, get back into church, serve God with all your heart and trust in Him to help you use your talents for His glory. Maybe, just maybe, some of the “hypocrites” might see from your example and experience a revival in their own lives. Hebrews 10:25 tells us not to forsake gathering together as a church, so that we as Christians can encourage and hold accountable each other in our Christian walks.

Satan’s time is short, and he has two tasks: 1) to take as many people as possible with him to eternal punishment, and 2) to hinder Christians in their walks with Christ. If Satan can accomplish Number 2, then Number 1 usually will fall right into place. My friend, if you are absent from church because you are sick of the hypocrisy, you are unfortunately doing exactly what Satan wants you to do. I encourage you to either get back into that church or, at the very least, ask the Lord’s leading regarding another Bible-believing church in your area.

(This column originally was published in Saworship.com)

  1. March 4, 2009 at 1:46 am

    Gute Arbeit hier! Gute Inhalte.

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