Let me begin with a question… Are your Church or Ministry bylaws up to date?
Bylaws are defined as a set of general rules and regulations that guide and direct the daily affairs of the members of an organization. Bylaws are crucial for churches and ministries because when properly structured, they do the following:
1. Clarify the purpose of the church;
2. Provide protection by distinguishing the theocratic government of the church;
3. Give guidelines for how the board can and cannot make decisions;
4. Guide the board in how to establish policies and procedures for the church, including succession, finances, ordination & membership
5. Give guidelines to help ensure that the board is operating according to IRS regulations for tax-exempt organizations.
Your bylaws are the driving force to help your Church or Ministry run smoothly. When bylaws are well-written, tailored to your organization they can streamline the focus of you and your Church or Ministry.
Besides that, your bylaws can provide invaluable protection for your church. However, when your bylaws are not structured well and are incompatible with your values and mission, then you may find that you have a document that actually works against you.
With a little effort and a little expense today, you can avoid unwanted and unnecessary trouble that could potentially arise later down the road. The fact of the matter is that second to the Bible, your bylaws are the most important document in your church.
Understand that utilizing wisdom while operating within the legal realm of our society will help protect your ministry in the long run. Well-structured bylaws will help provide safeguards for your ministry.
Since bylaws are a set of regulations that define what an organization is and how it will operate, there are some “must haves” that should be included in your bylaws. These items give assurance that your church is set up to succeed. Additionally, including certain sections and clauses in your bylaws will protect your ministry from state law that may not be favorable for ministries. With the current attack against the Body of Christ by extreme groups you have to be protected against lawsuits!
To protect you Church or Ministry against litigation your bylaws need to have certain things in them…
1. Include Scripture in your bylaws
Implementing Scripture references throughout your bylaws is a protective measure that establishes the document as religious in nature. This scriptural protection allows your church to make decisions based on faith while remaining in compliance with federal law.
2. Include membership requirements
It is necessary to include in your bylaws whether or not your church will have members. If you choose to have members, you will need to indicate whether your members will or will not have voting power. By including membership language in your bylaws, along with having an outlined membership program, the board of directors will have ground to stand on when member discipline is necessary.
3. Include licensing & ordination requirements
It is ideal for your organization to establish a solid licensing and ordination program. Licensed and ordained ministers are afforded certain tax benefits, such as a housing allowance and self-employment tax exemption.
Because such tax benefits are afforded to ministers, the IRS has questioned the legitimacy of some ordinations. This is simply to ensure that the tax benefits afforded to ministers are only received by those ministers who are truly licensed or ordained.
Therefore, when you include licensing and ordination language in your church’s bylaws, and you have a prescribed ordination process established, the ministers who become ordained through your church can walk with confidence should their ordination be called into question.
I hope you can see that bylaws are an integral part of your church’s foundation. Do not buy into the false ideas that bylaws are unnecessary and don’t matter.
You can strengthen and improve your bylaws in order to better protect what God has given you to lead by contacting us. We have helped others create ironclad bylaws to protect themselves and their Church or Ministry.
Contact me if you would like to discuss your bylaws and the safety of your ministry. We can help you!
For the Kingdom,
Apostle Frank Duprée