What is your view on the importance of church loyalty? I see a trend in my church: disciples "not getting their needs met" decide to visit or even join some church in their neighborhood that they feel has the same doctrine. My thought is that they will eventually run into the same relationship problems in their new church that they are running from in their original church, because God is trying to teach them something. What does the Bible say about church-hopping? -- Kelly Mullens

Church loyalty is like family loyalty. It is immensely important. Of course the Bible says nothing directly about "church-hopping," unless 1 John 2:19 (they went out from us) applies... which it doesn't in this case, since the teachings are the same, and no change in doctrine is occurring (as you say). When I say teachings, I refer to the basic tenets of the faith: the Lordship of Christ, scriptural conversion, the call to embrace the Cross, etc.

Where there are several biblically-grounded churches in a geographical area, it is a good thing, I think, that people have choices. In a way, this exerts a salutory force on the leadership of each congregation to develop excellence and build loving family--so that people would never dream of leaving! At the same time, the freedom to choose does appeal to those who tend to be takers rather than givers. 1 Corinthians describes a congregational life of give and take. I am needed, God expects me to share what I have been given with others, and likewise I need to be willing to receive what the Lord has planned. "The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I don't need you' " (1 Corinthians 12:21).

And yes, certainly patterns do tend to resurface. The grass is often greener, and too often we are motivated by the desire to flee unpleasantness, more than impelled to welcome suffering and sacrifice, investing ourselves in the mission. There are some times when seeking a more biblical congregation is demanded by scripture, conscience, etc. Yet often when people change congregations, though they might get "lucky," they are probably more likely to end up being saddened and changing churches again in one or two years, as you guess.

Wherever we end up worshipping, we must not allow ourselves to be mere spectators. We are called to play vital roles as participants. The more passive the churchgoer, the more he or she will be tempted to critique; the more active and engaged, the more energized the member will be, emotionally invested and reluctant to leave one church family for another. Not that all who change congregations are passive--by no means--but these are the sorts of things we should keep in mind when pondering such an important decision.