There are several reasons a congregation may decide to relocate to new facilities at a different site. They include:
1. They have outgrown their site and are landlocked.
How often one can see a congregation on a site without sufficient parking, whose facilities were built in the days when people in a neighborhood all walked to church. Now days, a family of four will drive to church in five different cars! Space will not bring growth, but the lack of space will prevent growth. And parking is the first limiting factor for many churches. Yet many congregations have no room to expand their parking. People want roomier spaces than they did in years past. However, many churches do not have a place to build additional education space because they are hemmed in by businesses or railroad tracks or cemeteries or state highways. Many churches make the decision to secure a future by moving to a location where there is more room for more people.
2. Their facilities are outdated and cannot be brought up to date at their present location.
Church facilities need to be as nice as the homes and offices where people in the community live and work. However, like people, buildings grow old and die. Sometimes, a fresh coat of paint is not enough. Old education buildings with closet-size rooms cannot always be enlarged for modern expectations. Often building codes call for set-backs and green areas and fire sprinkler systems, etc. Thus, the old facility cannot be renovated sufficiently.
3. The location lacks visibility.
There was a time when we tried to build a church in each neighborhood. As people came to prefer larger, more full-service churches, the smaller neighborhood church lost its appeal. Yet, there they are, deep in residential neighborhood, in an obscure locations with no visibility — in fact, it would take a police tracking dog to find the place. To become visible to those outside their small neighborhood and to become more of a regional church, the congregation decides to relocate.
4. Community displacement
Sometimes entire neighborhoods have been wiped out by the construction of a new Interstate or the expansion of an airport. Houses are torn down, possibly the facilities of a church, too. Sometimes, a congregation has to move because they have had their horse shot out from under them.
5. Radical demographic change
When the community where a church is located changes radically, they may be faced with an incoming people group (or set of people groups), that is very different from the church members. There is no doubt they are responsible, according to the Great Commission, to find a way to evangelize and disciple the people group (or groups) moving in. They need to determine if they themselves are able to reach that population. We are not speaking of the occasional family of a differing ethnic group who in all other respects are just like the membership–but rather a significant percentage of that new population. Perhaps the differences in culture and language are not so great; and they can make adjustments to their evangelism strategy and reach them. But what do they do if the other people group is not responsive or there are language differences? They may consider sponsoring a church plant to reach the new group and then sharing facilities with the new work–having two churches at one location. Or they may give the new church plant their present facility and relocate to a new location where they can effectively reach the population in a new community. Some churches have sold their buildings to help raise cash for their relocation, but one would hope that they would find some way to leave a new work in place to reach the new population in the community.