Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. - Psalm 119:105

Church Leadership

The Extermination that Hypocrisy Causes!

By Dr. Richard J. Krejcir
Hypocrisy can become the "Articles of War" within a church and within a community coming against a church!

When the average Joe or Joann off the street is polled on why they do not go to church, it won't be long before the word hypocrisy comes up! Why? Why do non-church people have such a negative response to the church and especially to hypocrisy?

Hypocrisy can become the "Articles of War" within a church and within a community coming against a church!

When the average Joe or Joann off the street is polled on why they do not go to church, it won't be long before the word hypocrisy comes up! Why? Why do non-church people have such a negative response to the church and especially to hypocrisy? The typical apologetic response from Christian leadership is that hypocrisy is a buzzword non-Christians use in covering up their inability to have an authority figure in their life such as God. So, the typical response is to label all Christians as hypocrites, this may be true in some cases; however, the vast majority of people when really listened to have had severe mis-dealings with Christians. I believe the typical apologetic response is a whitewash of not wanting to get to the true under-current of what is going on in our church and our lives. Most Christians just flat out do not want to change their behavior regardless of what anyone thinks or even what Scripture teaches.

I was consulting at a church I will call "First Church," located in the Mid-West a few years ago, and I was dumbfounded at the amount of hypocrisy at this church. You could rename that church First Church of Payton Place! My first experience was to walk into an all-church potluck. I had not yet introduced myself, so I would get more of a visitor's perspective. This helps greatly in understanding the church's social structure, and how they greet people. The people were very friendly on the surface, and I found myself warmly greeted, a good first sign. There was a large table with scores of pots and casserole dishes, and the spread looked as if it came off a magazine cover. I love a good potluck, because I like to sample and try new things. And this was one incredible looking potluck. After consuming mass quantities of delicious food, I walked into the kitchen to go to the bathrooms, {because it was one of those weird designs, where the only way to the bathrooms was through the kitchen} and I was run over by a crying woman, literally. I followed her outside to see what was wrong, and she gave me an earful. She was a new person to the church, visiting for just over a month, and was starting the new member's class, hence the reason for the potluck. So she was excited about joining this church, as a new beginning and a place to belong. She was a single mom, and a new Christian.

She brought a Jell-O salad to the potluck, and noticed it was not out on the table, so she went into the kitchen, just as another lady was dumping it into the garbage disposal! She was confused and dismayed and asked why she had thrown it out. Her response was a stern, "Well, we do not take in simple Jell-O here at First Church. The rest of us work hard providing QUALITY, and you better get used to it!" This inferred that the newcomer was not proper enough, and there was something wrong with her. This single mom, who worked full-time, had one of those stressful days. This was a day of juggling work, picking up her kids, and trying to put something together for the potluck; she did not want to come empty handed. I later found out that the lady who dumped the Jell-O was the church administrator.

This church administrator was one of the most reprehensible human beings I have ever met in my life. This person had complete, totalitarian control of the entire church. The pastor called our consulting firm for help. This pastor, who I will call Pastor Rogers, was dumbfounded as to why people were coming to the church, yet as quickly as they came, they vanished. This church had good preaching and teaching, had a warm friendly atmosphere, and plenty of parking space {yes parking is very important because a visitor will get quickly frustrated and leave, as well as fickle Christians}. This Church should have been a growing church and a testimony to God's will in society. Pastor Rogers had only been on staff for less than a year, after the previous pastor was on staff for two years, and a previous pastor before him was on staff for under two years. As a matter of fact, this church has not had a long-term pastor in it for a generation. The only constant on staff at this church was the administrator; she's been ruling the nest there for over 20 years.

The next morning I went to see Pastor Rogers for our scheduled meeting. I quickly told him about my experiences at the potluck, and what happened to that new member who ran me over, crying in despair. The pastor told me this was a typical response of the new people who attempted to join his church. I then asked him if he had a clue of what was going on. He said had his suspicions but did not know what to do about it. I asked about the church administrator; what kind of a person was she, and how well was she at dealing with the church members and public? Pastor Rogers then amazed me; he seemed to be a very strong willed individual and a man of integrity, and he started to cry. There is nothing wrong with crying, I just did not expect it. He then told me he had numerous conversations with the previous pastors, some came from long distances to go on staff at that church only to be run out by issues from rumors and slander, all coming from one person, the administrator.

I asked the pastor if anyone ever tried to deal with the administrator, using discipline, or by just flat out firing her. He said yes, that's why all those pastors are no longer on staff. This administrator is from the founding family of the church and she has a lot of political power, her family is very wealthy, and she draws no salary for her position. And the "old guard" of the church likes her and cannot see anything wrong. I told Pastor Rogers, you have something very wrong. I asked him what he felt his options were. He told me the only two options he felt he had was to resign or to fight. I asked him if he were to fight what would the chances be, and what would his strategy be? He said that's why I was here, and why he's paying my organization an $8,000 dollar consulting fee. I thought "OH-boy"!

So, I began my usual consultation, with needs analysis surveys, counting the parking spaces and church growth forms and personality profiles for staff, leadership and members to fill out! But I knew this was not the answer, and so did the pastor. We both prayed for a long time and searched the Scriptures. What I came up with was a simple, straightforward Biblical plan; and a page right out of the Presbyterian Book of Order, in the section on discipline. First, the pastor and elders need to come together in prayer and understanding of the problem. Second, the pastor needs to write out a policy of discipline. And then the elders need to be willing to act on it. I then suggested to the pastor that regardless of how much money this woman and her family have contributed to the church, it can never make up for all the loss of people who have been driven out of the church. And if the elders can only see money, then explain to them that the numbers of people who been driven out of the church would have contributed more money than this administrator's family could ever have.

For over 20 years, this church administrator has been causing massive division and hypocrisy in that church. This woman would go around and make false accusations to people she felt did not belong at "her church." It could be something they wore, a feeling she had, none of which ever made any sense. The Jell-O incident was extremely minor compared to the rumors she would stir up in the church, she had several other people hooked on them like a soap opera! She was a woman who had no intention in the past, or seemingly in the future, of growing in God's Word and in discipleship. She feels church is a place of political power and control. She does not see the church as a place to worship, as a place of love, and as a place of care. Although she was excellent in her job as an administrator in the office, her people skills have caused so much division that the reputation of the church was shattered to nothing in its community. Furthermore, the core membership in the church knew what was going on, but failed to act on it. The leadership failed with the willingness and strength to do what was necessary. And what was necessary was to provide discipline and sit this person down, so she would not be able to cause any additional harm.

First Church was a true example, only the names and places were changed. But this story represents what is often going on in the church in America. People flat out do not realize what they are doing to one another, we are not living honestly with one another. We sit in our pews with our nice suits and dresses, with big smiles on our faces, but do we really realize how we are mirroring Christ to the world, or to the person sitting right next to us? Are we doing it as Christ would, or are we mirroring how we feel and desire too, regardless of our mandate from our Lord? Hypocrisy is a destroyer of the church. If Satan was to sit down in a counsel of demons to implant a strategy to tear down the church in America all Satan would need to do was place a few key individuals in each church to spread gossip and rumors.

Satan cannot do any better than that, perhaps this is where it all originates. But in any case, no matter where the slander of hypocrisy comes from, it all comes down to us. As Christians, we have the responsibility to act as the Disciples of Christ. The well-trained sheep dog will go out into the herd and gently nudge the sheep by their rear ankles to where they need to go. The sheep dog causes no harm to the sheep and provides the leadership and strength to place the sheep where it needs to be. If you were to place a pit-bull, who is not trained, out into a sheep field, all it will do is go around and maul the sheep. So what are you doing? Are you mauling sheep or are you shepherding with love and care?

"I felt he was a hypocrite. Dad could talk about peace and love out loud to the world, but he could never show it to the people who supposedly meant the most to him: his wife and son. How can you talk about peace and love and have a family in bits and pieces -- no communication, adultery, divorce? You can't do it, not if you're being true and honest with yourself." Julian Lennon age 35, who was abandoned by his father, Beatle John Lennon, at the age of five.

The people you run into during the course of your life, those you speak to at work, see while shopping or when you go out with friends, or even friends of friends; these are the people you are influencing. Hypocrisy in their experience usually has been something simpler and maybe even sublime. The hypocrisy that most people experience happens in the workplace. For example, when someone acted unkindly towards a co-worker by spreading rumors and being abrupt to their fellow employees; then later to find out that the person is active in a church. Or the non-Christian has just been invited to go to church with someone, when two hours ago they have been stabbed in the back by gossip by the person who spread the gossip in the first place. Another example is when someone finally gets enough courage to attend church for the first time, or possibly to come back after a long time, only to be greeted with sarcasm, or are shunned and ignored. What is your way of influencing?

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices, mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law-justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides you strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self indulgence. Blind Pharisees! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside on also will be clean. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like white washed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead man's bones and everything on unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. And you say, if we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets. So you testify against yourselves that you are descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of the sin of your forefathers! You snakes! You brood of Vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? Matthew 23:23-33

The Pharisees were experts on seeing the hypocrisy in other people, but they failed to see it in themselves. They could look down the corridor of time and see all the errors and mistakes their ancestors made in the past. They now see themselves more accomplished and unable to do the ungodly acts of years past. But the Pharisees could not see the damage and hurt and oppression that they were causing, that they were causing the very same problems they were criticizing their ancestors for. They were actually leading people away from God! The very opposite of their job description, the very opposite of their call from the Lord. This is as dangerous, more dangerous than a brood of Vipers! A snake can kill you physically; a Pharisee can kill you spiritually. And if we say, no way! I would never act like a Pharisee, then woe to us, for we do the very same thing as they have done in the past. When we spread rumors and stir up dissension, while we see ourselves as unable to do the evil of years past; then, all we are doing is deceiving others and ourselves. We have to ask ourselves if our cups are clean on the outside while they are filthy within, are our tombs nicely groomed on the outside, but filled with disgusting rot!? Are we willing to live lives of distinction with integrity and honesty to be glorifiers of His kingdom?

Ó 1998, 2001, Rev. R.J. Krejcir excerpt from the upcoming book 'Pew Sitting' 

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