CHURCH LAUNCH LEGAL CHECKLIST--BEFORE YOU TAKE AN OFFERING, HOLD A SERVICE, OR SIGN A CONTRACT
Thinking about launching a new site, campus, or church? Walk through a few scenarios with me.
Scenario No. 1
Kyle is ready to launch Risen Church, but he hasn’t yet incorporated the church. He enters into a contract with a local theater to rent space for the new church with the total contract totaling $52,000.00 for the year—not too bad at $1,000.00 per week. However, a couple of months before the launch, Kyle decides that church planting isn’t for him, and he takes a job as a campus pastor at a large church. The theater comes calling for the money? Who’s on the hook for the $52,000.00? Is Kyle personally liable?
Scenario No. 2
John plans to start Redeemer Church on Easter, and has been talking to several donors about funding. However, he hasn’t set up a bank account and has not yet incorporated. In December, Brad and Tiffany, John’s brother and sister-in-law, want to donate to the effort—and get a tax write off. They give John a check for $25,000.00, and John puts it in his personal account, while he waits for the church to get started. In January, he transfers it to the church account. Brad and Tiffany get audited with the IRS claiming the $25,000.00 is not tax-deductible. Now, they want their money back from John. What happens next?
Scenario No. 3
Desperate for volunteers, Jesse recruited whoever he could find for children’s ministry in order to launch Hope Fellowship. A few weeks into the new church’s launch, a child reports that a children’s worker inappropriately touch her. Jesse hasn’t yet purchased any kind of insurance, done any kind of background screening, and has no policy in place. The parents are ready to sue the church. Do the parents have a case against Jesse and the church?
Those scenarios aren’t just examples or hypotheticals, cases like these happen all the time. That’s why I’ve written the Church Launch Legal Field Guide—to help you avoid these mistakes, sleep easier, and know that your new church is protected.
11-Point Checklist to Launch a New Church or Campus
The Church Launch Legal Checklist blog series walks you through and 11-point checklist every planter needs to take before starting the church:
Prioritize Children’s Safety Over Everything Else
File Articles of Incorporation with Your State
Draft Your Constitution and Bylaws
Conduct an Initial Meeting of the Board of Directors
Adopt Key Policies to Protect Your Church
Obtain Your FEIN
Create a System to Receipt Donors
Create Your Church Budget
Get Permission to Use Everything
Purchase the Right Insurance
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