Although I would certainly not put commitment to a specific congregation on the same level as commitment to marriage, there are parallels. Statistics show that those who have divorced once are much more likely to do it again. The same is true in our congregational relationships. Leaving a church because of a disagreement makes it easier to leave the next time.
Popular author and pastor Joshua Harris recently wrote a new book entitled Stop Dating the Church. In it, he says this:
Going away is easy. Do you want to know what’s harder? Do you want to know what takes more courage and what will make you grow faster than anything else? Join a local church and lay down your selfish desires by considering others more important than yourself. Humble yourself and acknowledge that you need other Christians. Invite them into your life. Stop complaining about what’s wrong with the church, and become a part of a solution. [Joshua Harris, Stop Dating the Church, Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Publishers, 2004.]
I’d like to suggest Christians running away from difficult situations is rare, but I wouldn’t be honest if I did. I’ve witnessed the scene played over and over again in the lives of believers all across North America. People repeatedly run from uncomfortable situations and end up greatly hindered in their own spiritual walk.