Time to Leave
Time to Leave
Words of Faith 6-27-18
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2018
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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 Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town.  If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them."
Jesus also made it clear that there is a time to leave a town or place of ministry. It would be plainly seen, "If the people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them." Apparently, there was a time to stay and time to leave. Jesus did not urge the ministry teams to stay when they were not welcomed.
For ministers, pastors, and missionaries of all sorts there is a time to move on. It is related to the welcome of the people. This can be difficult to gauge. Sometimes a pastor is told by one group that he is not welcome and then by another that he is. Split support does not work very well.
At other times, it is very clear that a community is not going to hear the message of the Kingdom from a particular worker. This becomes a matter of much prayer and fasting to be sure, but there is a time for shaking the dust off and moving on. There are times when the most important and powerful and loving thing to do is to leave.
What about Disciples of Christ seeking to minister in His name? When is it time to leave a church or area or group of people? That is part of God's timing, too. "If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them."
Many these days are struggling with the pain of denominations that have abandoned the Bible, endorsed sinful lifestyles, and rejected the most basic of doctrines. When a denomination rejects the very teaching of God and thumbs its nose at believers, this is a sign that the Spirit and power of God are unwelcome. One may be called to remain and seek to reform that denomination. It is a matter for much prayer and fasting. If all efforts to reform the denomination are exhausted, it may be time to leave.
Is there a time for leaving a local church? Clearly there is. But it is not because of the many reasons often given. It is not because a decision on some earthly matter like the color of carpet did not go your way. It is not because someone failed to thank you enough or because you did not get the solo at Christmas. It is not because you had a conflict with a particular person who actually might be God's plan to help you grow. It is not because the music at another church is trendier or more old-fashioned.
These are not reasons to leave a church and will only result in church-hopping. If a church is clearly failing in its doctrine and abandoning the teaching of the Bible, and all efforts to resolve the problem have been exhausted, this would be a reason leave.
It is important to note that leaving can, in itself, be an act of ministry. Jesus said that leaving is a "testimony against them." Leaving a church should not be over trivial matters, for a simple change, or the comfort of a different building. Leaving is a statement against a place. Church leaders should notice that departures are making some sort of statement, "a testimony against them." Big crowds are not necessarily the endorsement of God, but the departure of millions of people from a denomination should draw notice.
A final note. This teaching is not about marriage. I have heard some cite this text saying that they are leaving a marriage because they feel unwelcome and they are shaking the dust off their feet. The Bible teaches the opposite, in fact. The Bible teaches that a believer should remain married to an unbeliever unless that person leaves them (1 Cor. 7:12-15). Of course, one should always temporarily leave and get safe if they are in danger, but there is no Biblical teaching that one should leave a marriage because they feel unwelcome.
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. -- Jeremiah 29:11
Lord Jesus, you know my situations. You know where I have felt welcome and where I have felt unwelcome. You know the plan that you have for me to give witness to Your light. Show me when to stay and when to leave. Lead me to the circles and paths where You want me to give witness. In Jesus' name.