A church can take on many different forms, at its core a church is a spiritual community of like-minded people. Many people may find they’re not happy with the way their current church is being operated, so why not start your own? Wondering how to start your own church? In this article, we’ll go over all the aspects you need to get started.
1. Start with Fellowship
Many religious organizations choose to file for non-profit status with the IRS, but in order to do this your church needs to have an established fellowship. A fellowship is merely a group of people who share common interests and beliefs. Start talking and meeting with like-minded people regularly to share ideas. Keep in mind that in order to obtain non-profit status with the IRS you’ll need at least three founding board of members who are not related to you, by marriage or blood.
2. How will your church be structured?
Churches can be organized in a variety of ways. For example, do you plan on forming a ministry or will your church have a more traditional corporate structure? Whichever structure you choose, it’s important to clearly define the scope and goals of your organization to establish the church. This also makes obtaining tax-exempt status easier. Here are some key factors you should keep in mind:
- Your location
- Number of members
- Your commitment (Whether it is full-time or part-time)
- Your financial motives, such as fundraising
3. Create a statement of belief along with Church bylaws
When it comes to a statement of belief, there are many questions that you need to answer such as:
- Your reason for starting a church
- The core beliefs that will govern your ministry
- What makes your church’s creed and doctrine different from other churches?
- What activities will your church participate in? (Weddings, funerals, outreach and education programs)
When starting your own church, you need to establish a series of bylaws that will govern your organization. This serves as a rule book for the operation of your church. It also clarifies the role performed in the Church. If you’re still not sure where to start, try searching online for the bylaws that govern other churches, then modify them for your church’s purposes.
4. Establish church officers
In order to file for incorporation in your state, you need to form a team of corporate officers and a board of directors. Of course a church’s board of directors will operate differently from that of a traditional corporation but their roles are important nonetheless.
Make sure you have members who are experts in accounting and administrative roles to make your church runs smoothly. In addition, think about other responsibilities that need to be filled.
For example, who will be in charge of fundraising efforts? Will you have a youth ministry, if so, who will run it? Does your church need a choir, and if yes, who will organize it?
5. Name of your Church
This is one of the most overlooked yet crucial steps. Legally, there is a big difference between a ministry and a church. A ministry is less complicated and involves small groups of people. Whereas, a church has more complicated legal requirements along with benefits. Make sure the name of your church is descriptive, unique and different. Avoid using commonly-used names, as this will help you stand out from the crowd.
6. Create a plan for fundraising
Fundraising is one of the most important activities of your church, especially in the beginning. Fundraising is needed for facility management, start-up costs, software implementations and other expenses. So, it is vital to have a precise fundraising plan when starting a church.
7. Make sure to apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN)
Your EIN is essential for tax purposes, even if you’re not hiring employees. The IRS needs an EIN to withhold Social Security taxes and income on your tax return. An EIN will also be needed in order to open a bank account for your church. Consider hiring a consultant or lawyer to guide you through the legalities of dealing with the IRS.
8. Opening a Bank account
This is another crucial point you need to consider when planning to start your own church. Look for the banks in your area and see which one can provide you with the best benefits. Some of the essential aspects to look are:
- Location: Easy access to the branch or ATM
- Minimum opening amount
- Monthly fees
- Loan availability
- Minimum balances
9. Setting up different donation Programs
Always remember, when you start a Church, you need to collect donations from supporters. The donation platform you choose should cover all the bases of giving such as:
- Online tithing tool that enables you to collect donations right away
- Text-to-tithe services
- Fundraising events
Keep in mind, their may also be grant programs available within your denomination.
10. Purchase insurance
You might be thinking, “why would a church need insurance?” But the reality is, unforeseen accidents can happen anywhere, anytime--even to churches. For example, a churchgoer may slip and fall on your property and if you don’t have the right insurance you’ll be stuck paying for their medical bills.
The thought of purchasing commercial insurance for churches and religious organizations may seem daunting, but it doesn’t need to be a painful process.
You can apply to get a quote online and instantly have access to proof of insurance, allowing you to get back to running your church.
11. Grow your community
After you have started the establishment process, it’s time to grow your church family. To expand your services, you need to:
- Welcome new members
- Maintain productive communication
- Keep a strong management presence
- Sustain a strong congregation
- Make efforts to reach out to the community.
The key takeaway
Starting a church can help some realize a life-long dream of helping their community. Starting a successful church can take time and patience, but with the tips above, you’ll be on the road to starting your own church.