When is it a good idea to stay in a church or para-church ministry, and when is it better to leave? This was the question that Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones addressed in 1966 at the National Assembly of Evangelicals conference in England. Lloyd-Jones was a very respected evangelical leader, and he used this opportunity to implore evangelicals to leave the Church of England because it was tolerating theologically liberal people and ideas in its ranks (He told evangelicals to join with another evangelical church).
Another respected leader named John Stott was at the meeting, and after Dr. Lloyd-Jones was finished, Stott approached the lectern and said to the audience, “I believe history is against what Dr. Lloyd-Jones has said… and I also believe that Scripture is against him.” Stott wanted evangelicals to stay within the Church of England to be a transforming influence.
So who, if either, is correct? When is it right to separate and leave a church or a denomination, and when should one stay and be salt and light within the church? Lloyd-Jones also said, “Ecumenical people put fellowship before doctrine. We, as Evangelicals, put doctrine before fellowship.” There is an issue here that arises however: Since no church has absolutely perfect doctrine, where is the doctrinal line drawn before one says, “this far and no further” regarding the teaching of the church?
Also, what if the question is not only one of doctrine but also practice? What if a church teaches essentially correct doctrine but its overall systematic practices go against its teaching? Lloyd-Jones had an issue with the Anglican Church because, while their doctrinal statement was basically solid, according to him, its practices across the board over time were not and so he advocated separation in that case.
What is the threshold for staying or leaving a ministry? Is there a line for the amount of doctrinal aberrance, personal abuse, or theological difference that determines staying or leaving? Or is it subjective, on a case by case basis?
The question of when to stay in a church or ministry and when to leave is a complex one that is ultimately a matter of personal discernment and conviction. Both Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones and John Stott had valid points and argued from different perspectives. Lloyd-Jones believed that it was important for evangelicals to separate from the Church of England due to its toleration of theologically liberal people and ideas, while Stott believed that evangelicals should stay within the Church of England to be a transforming influence.
When it comes to determining the threshold for staying or leaving a ministry, it is important to consider both doctrine and practice. If a church teaches essentially correct doctrine but its overall systematic practices go against its teaching, it may be necessary to separate. However, since no church has absolutely perfect doctrine, it may be helpful to consider where the doctrinal line is drawn before making the decision to leave.
Personal abuse and theological differences can also be factors in determining whether to stay or leave a ministry. Ultimately, the decision is a personal one and should be made after careful consideration and discernment. In your case, you and your wife decided to leave UBF because too many lines had been crossed for too long and you felt powerless to do anything about it. You have found another church and have been growing, which suggests that your decision was the right one for you. [ChatGPT]