Top Three Reasons Most Churches Wind Up in Court


At one time, it was inconceivable that churches would be named in a lawsuit, but today it is all too common. In fact, many churches are sued by their own members, not just by people from outside the church.  So, what are the top three reasons churches end up in court?

Number 3: Personal Injuries

Almost 10% of the time churches find themselves in court it is due to an injury of some sort—slip and fall, vehicle accidents, playground accidents, or physical assaults that happen on church property. Anytime the church is found negligent in selecting or supervising workers in these situations, the church has liability.

Number 2: Property Disputes

Over 10% of the time churches end up in court due to a property dispute of one kind or another. It could be an issue of eminent domain, restrictive covenants, reverter clauses, religious discrimination in the lease or sale of property, or adverse possession. These property disputes may also include disputes between a local church and denomination as to who owns the property.

Number 1: Sexual Abuse of Youth and Children

Sadly, the number one reason churches are sued is the sexual molestation of children and youth. Abuse victims normally allege that the church bears responsibility for the injury due to negligence in selecting, retaining, and supervising the sexual abuser. Often, churches lose these cases because they failed to implement or follow policies and procedures to guard against such abuses involving employees and volunteers who work with children and youth.


To learn how you can protect your church from potential liability, shoot Grant Reynolds an email at or give us a call at 757-219-2500 for a free strategy session to find out your legal risk.