Monday, June 12, 2006

Ten Questions to Ask Before Your Church Relocates

More than twenty years ago, a church in a deteriorating neighborhood was advised to move to a different location. It didn't. Less than two years ago, attendance had dwindled so far that the church closed its doors.

The story of that church has been used as evidence that some churches can't survive in some neighborhoods. My suspicion (based on evidence) is that the church in question died, not because the city lost control of the neighborhood, but because the church lost the gospel.

This discussion that I observed got me started thinking about what kinds of questions a church should consider when a relocation seems like a desirable option. These questions are certainly not comprehensive, but I believe they are worth answering.
  1. What are we doing right now to evangelize our current community?
  2. What makes us think we will do a better job of evangelizing our next community?
  3. Who will evangelize this community after we are gone?
  4. Are there greater internal obstacles to our church's ministry than the limitations of our facility?
  5. Do we want to move to enhance the depth or the breadth of our ministry?
  6. Do we want to move because the people in our neighborhood aren't the same color as we are?
  7. Would the money we would spend on relocating more effectively advance the spread of the gospel if it were used in some other way?
  8. Should we plant a church instead?
  9. Are we motivated more by a desire to spread the gospel or by a desire to stabilize our church's future?
  10. Do we think that people will come just because we build?

4 comments:

Dan Burrell said...

Ben,

What a powerful and thought-provoking post! This is a tough question with which many churches are wrestling and some that are just bent on moving should consider. Your list of "thoughts" was dead-on and convicting. I'll be referring my blog readers to your article. Thanks for broaching a subject few have been willing to address.

Dan

tjp said...

Ben,

Several years ago Fourth Baptist Church of Minneapolis, MN, relocated from an inner city location to a more suburban site.

But it didn't abandon the inner city.

In fact, Fourth left behind a solid work that continues to prosper. The last I heard, McLaughlin and company still work closely with that ministry.

Although Fourth's vision included more than the inner city, it never excluded the inner city. In this regard I believe they can offer a flesh and blood paradigm of how a church can leave a location and yet not leave it!

My hats off to Fourth!!!

P.S. Perhaps someone from Fourth can fill in the picture for us.

Ben said...

Thanks Dan.

tjp,

It's Family Baptist in Minneapolis. I thought about posting some links to churches that have maintained faithful gospel witnesses in locations that are viewed as less than desirable. Family was one of them, along with other churches with which I have varying degrees of familiarity in Minneapolis, L.A., D.C., Philadelphia, and NYC. But I was just too lazy.

Chris said...

These questions could also be asked before building a bigger building...especially, should we plant another church?