Two Must-Have Clauses to Help Protect Your Church

Written by Raul Rivera on Mar 16, 2021 in State Compliance

Read Time: 2 Minutes

At StartCHURCH, we strive to help churches and ministries protect themselves by helping to create a rock-solid foundation that can bear the weight that accompanies them. Part of building that strong foundation is by establishing, selecting, and implementing bylaws* that truly align with your religious foundation.

Bylaws define your organization and provide a clear understanding of how your church or ministry is governed. Solid bylaws can often mean the difference between a safeguarded organization or one that is at risk for potential problems.

Let's discuss two clauses that many churches and ministries leave out of their bylaws but are truly essential in keeping your organization protected.

Two Must-Have Clauses for Church Bylaws

1. The Accountability Board Clause

The pastor creates the accountability board by nominating three to five individuals who are not church members and do not serve on the board of directors.Often, the pastor will choose close friends, other pastors, or individuals in leadership positions in ministries outside of the pastor's church. It is essential that the selected individuals are trustworthy and have the pastor's and the church's best interest at heart.

The accountability board provides comfort, aid, counsel, correction, protection, and discipline. In short, it provides a spiritual covering for the pastor.

But the most valuable service they can render to the pastor and church is their availability and involvement should the pastor ever be accused of wrongdoing.

You see, under the accountability clause, neither the board nor the membership can discipline or remove the pastor.

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Should a situation occur, or if someone should call for the pastor's removal, the board of directors hears the accusations against the pastor and then votes to decide if the case will go before the accountability board.

Suppose the case goes before the accountability board. In that case, the accountability board members will go into session to weigh out all of the facts and to make an impartial judgment on the accusations.

Then, if discipline is needed, the accountability board, not the board of directors, decides what steps need to be taken. This prevents the pastor from being unjustly removed.

What makes the accountability board so powerful is that it strips the devil of his precise ability to divide and conquer. The accountability board has nothing to gain or lose except to know the truth.

2. Request of Church Records Clause

Every church's bylaws should contain a clause that addresses how to properly handle members' requests to see the church's records, especially its finances. Granting this kind of request allows a member, or possibly a random attendee, to gain access to another person's personal giving record or may expose sensitive information.

If you have yet to undergo accusations from someone in your congregation, you have probably not been a pastor or ministry leader for very long.

It happens. The key is being ready.

Having a clause that limits what a member can see or request is essential to protecting your organization and the other members who are part of it.

Protecting What God has Called You to Lead

Has an expert reviewed your bylaws to determine if they are IRS compliant? Look at your bylaws carefully and be willing to seek help from a specialist. The extra effort is worth it to make sure you are fully protecting what God's given you to lead.

Remember, you are not on this journey alone. Our team at StartCHURCH is here to help! Call us at 877-494-4655 for a consultation with one of our church planting specialists and see how we can serve you and your ministry.


*StartCHURCH provides clerical assistance to help you process your own articles of incorporation and prepare your own bylaws. StartCHURCH does not provide legal advice.

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Raul Rivera

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