Why You Must Remain
in Your Church

Many people have become enthused over the Vine & Fig Tree vision of a society without priests and without princes; a society where the institutions of church and state are not only separate, but no longer exist.

The Vine & Fig Tree vision is a vision of society several generations away. Our immediate purpose is not to abandon the rest of the world while we incarnate this vision in isolation for the few short remaining years of our own lives, like the few seconds of sparks in a 4th of July firework. Our goal is to plant seeds and begin nurturing them for a great harvest we will likely not experience in our lifetime.

Some of those who have been captivated by Micah's vision have told us that their local church pastor "just doesn't understand," and they are leaving their church. To these people we say, You must remain a member of your church. If you are a person who believes you must leave your church, we encourage you to consider the following, and we encourage your feedback

Providence and Decision-Making

It may be possible to say that God did not want Mr. Smith to marry Miss Jones. But now that he has, it is God's will for Mr. Smith to remain with Mrs. Smith. It may be possible to say you should not have joined First Behemoth Church, but if you took vows to remain a member of First Behemoth until the Session discharged you to another location, then God's will for your life is quite clear.

In general, it may be the case that you violated God's Commandments in order to get where you are today. But God's will for you is not for you to break ties in a way which further violate God's Law, but for you to extirpate yourself from your current situation in a Theonomic way, a way that honors God's Law. This process -- a potentially life-long process -- is how God brings Micah's Vine & Fig Tree vision into existence. Even though we feel we should take direct action to make it happen, God's providence is usually more indirect and seemingly circuitous. God works from the inside out.

Membership Vows

Either you took membership vows or you did not.

  • If you did not, you might still consider this section, as the principles may inform you concerning informal vows that are presumed to exist in many relationships. Your abrupt departure from your church may not speak well of you or the vision you espouse.
  • If you did take membership vows, the Scripture is very clear. You must honor your vows.

The man who is blessed by God and dwells with Him is the man who

sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.
Psalm 15:4

That is, when he takes a vow, he fulfills it, even if he later regrets having ever taken that vow.

The only thing that can release a man from an oath is if he finds he has sworn to sin. Making an oath in the Mafia to kill a rival is an oath which cannot be lawfully fulfilled. We know of no situation in which it is a sin to remain in a church. We know of no situation where the authorities of the church will hold someone to his vows and force him to sin. Tell us if you think your situation requires you to sin. Be prepared to tell us the specific statute in God's Law which the church is forcing you to violate, and will not release you from your membership vows and let you leave.

Yes but . . .

Some will say,

But I became a member of this church when I was in high school. I didn't know anything about Vine & Fig Tree back then. My beliefs have completely changed. I only joined that church because my parents were members.

All the more reason to stay. Especially if your parents still attend that church, and would like you to remain. Recall the situation Naaman found himself in. His "father" (a term used to refer to all in positions of authority) attended a completely idolatrous church, and forced Naaman to go to church with him to assist him (perhaps he used a wheelchair). The prophet Elisha told Naaman to "go in peace," that is, continue to attend idolatrous worship services, in obedience to the 5th Commandment. (Read the story in 2 Kings 5:18-19)

Besides, if you're a member of a Christian church, your beliefs really haven't changed all that much. And thinking so may be evidence of pride.

Understanding Why

Even if you have never taken any membership vows, but have been attending a church for some time, consider the following:

  • There are many advantages to remaining there, even if you are not required to do so by church authorities.
  • An abrupt departure, with unreconciled conflicts, will not be a good advertisement for the Vine & Fig Tree vision.
  • What is your definition of "success?" Will you really be a success if you leave your church and form some flashy ministry, or will you be more of a success in God's eyes by working with the people in your local church, cultivating the Vine & Fig Tree vision in their lives and yours, even if no one seems to be noticing your efforts?

Here's what you may be leaving behind.


The task of becoming a Patriarch like Abraham is a formidable one. Only the most unfathomably extraordinary circumstances would find a man taking his small, American-sized "nuclear family" away from a church community and starting a new life in isolation. Many of those who have left the city to homestead an isolated rural area have failed miserably. The ones who succeeded never really did so in isolation, but either left with community or moved into community. Even Abraham had an extended family community as large as most churches.

You need the prayerful support and encouragement of other Christians, even if they don't buy the radical Vine & Fig Tree vision hook line and sinker. To presume that someone who does not buy into the Vine & Fig Tree vision is therefore not a true Christian is almost never justified.

Sharpening Iron

No matter how intellectually advanced you may think you are (and you certainly deserve points if you have been captivated by Micah's Vine & Fig Tree vision) you still need even the lowliest, least well-read, votes-in-every-election-along-party-lines Christian. Such a Christian will show you your faults, and you can also minister to such a Christian. If you are a member of a church, then God has called you to experience this very thing.

As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.
Proverbs 27:17

Paul exhorts Christians to resolve their disputes among themselves, rather than secular courts. He says even the lowliest member of the church is better than a pagan:

If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.
1 Corinthians 6:4

This verse can be translated another way, but the Geneva Bible comments:

The conclusion, in which he prescribes a remedy for this wrong: that is, if they end their private affairs between themselves by chosen arbiters out of the Church: for which matter and purpose, the least of you, he says, is sufficient.

You will be surprised how fast you can become like the Patriarch Abraham, and mature "unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" by maintaining relationships with the feeblest and lowliest Christians in the least sophisticated church in the city.

Your Pastor's Wisdom

No matter how bogus your Pastor's theology, and no matter how much he attacks your theology, if he wants you to stay in his church, then either

He has a shepherd's heart . . .

And he doesn't think you're ready to make it on your own. He thinks you could benefit by becoming a servant to the other members of the church.

The majority of church pastors (in Bible-believing churches) see themselves described in some sense described by Hebrews 13:17

Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

A man committed to the Vine & Fig Tree vision is committed to obeying this command.

He is a scoundrel . . .

And he obviously doesn't know much about you. A scoundrel doesn't want Godly people in his church, who could potentially upset his apple-cart.

You say he's an anti-Christ who opposes the truth. What will he say about you? Will he say, "Yes, he was a living example of the fruit of the Spirit, and showed the maturity of the stature of Christ, but I'm just in business to fleece the sheep; I don't care about the truth." We've never known this to happen. A truly evil "pastor" wants easily-manipulatable people who are laden with sins (2 Timothy 3:6). A truly Godly Patriarch like Abraham would make the "pastor" look bad in the eyes of any other potentially Godly people in the congregation, and such a man would be driven out by the "pastor."

Let us talk to your pastor. Let us hear his side. What will he say about you? How will he react when we tell him what you've told us about him?

1 Peter 3:1-6 Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, {2} when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. {3} Do not let your adornment be merely outward; arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel; {4} rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. {5} For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, {6} as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror.

Usually what happens is the pastor does not see the one leaving the church as a fully-matured Christian with a call from God, but rather as a proud man, with defects of character which are obvious to all others. If a man has matured and clearly has a call from God to terminate his membership in the local church in order to pursue a fruitful ministry, most pastors would be only too happy to bless his efforts.

The example of Sarah is not just an example of a Godly wife, but a Godly example to all who are under one in authority. There are

Four Required Attitudes

that must be mastered before God will call someone to leave a church and become a patriarch.


Your pastor ought to be a man of God who is empowering other men to become Godly Patriarchs. A man who has 100 or more people listening to him every Sunday and heeding his counsel the rest of the week is a man who has power or authority. He could be accomplishing a great deal for the Kingdom. It may be that God has called you to help him become such a man, by demonstrating a reverent spirit. By impressing upon him the possibilities of his position, you may encourage him to rise to that level. If you think YOU should be in the pulpit, or that YOU should be listened to by the doctors of the church, you do not have the spirit of Christ, who learned obedience by forsaking the spotlight and showing deference to his parents (Luke 2:49-51). By doing so, "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man." (Luke 2:52) That's the kind of person God can use to further the Vine & Fig Tree vision, not a renegade with a big head.

If we talked to your pastor, would he say you had a reverent spirit?


No Pastor is 100% wrong. Nobody teaches error 100% of the time. Nobody.
Have you expressed gratitude for the good things your pastor has said and done? Have you encouraged him to do more good things like these? Every good thing, if followed consistently, leads straight to Micah's Vine & Fig Tree society. If your pastor would only be perfectly consistent with the truth he speaks, he'd be on your side. Right? The problem comes when evil people encourage evil, and good people say nothing. Look for good things and reward them.

If we talked to your pastor, would he say you had a grateful spirit?


As we have tried to show, Jesus prohibited His followers from becoming "archists," and commanded them to become servants. Being a servant is God's way to greatness. Being willing to lose your life is the way to find life. Before you leave your church, you should habitually become excited to make others successful in their undertakings. Joseph became head of Egypt because for years he was willing to make others successful. Which is more beneficial to God's Kingdom: one man who takes himself out of a community to embody Micah's Vine & Fig Tree vision on his own, or a man who sacrifices his own reputation and achievements in order to help a dozen families come closer to their own Vine & Fig Tree?

If we talked to your pastor, would he say you had a servant's spirit?


Some people become anxious to make Micah's Vine & Fig Tree vision a reality because they are agitated about evil in the modern world. They are dominated by fear and worry.  They are paranoid, and see conspiracies everywhere. If we don't get this or that done, they warn, evil will take over and everything will be lost. In response, first, God hasn't given us responsibility for reforming the world. Each of us has more than enough to take care of without worrying about the whole world. Second, there is value in failure. Some people must learn "the hard way." But if you have shared the truth with them, they will see it on the other side of their failure. A true son of Abraham must have an inward confidence that God is going to work it out.

If we talked to your pastor, would he say you had a quiet spirit?

Micah's Vine & Fig Tree society is a long way away. We're still laying the foundations. If you are part of a local church which is reluctant to let you leave, consider the likelihood that God wants you to remain in that church and lay the foundations for future generations. To explore the possibilities, consider once again our outlines of Patriarchal government, and ask yourself how a Godly Christian, convinced of the Vine & Fig Tree vision, can benefit and be benefited by his local church. Please write us and tell us why you believe God wants you to withhold the ideas and practices of Godly government from your local church.

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