One of the most important legal aspects of organizing a church is that of forming the Constitution and By Laws. In decades past, most churches simply had a one or two page Statement of Faith which might also include how many deacons there were going to be and for how long they would serve with a few other items such as following Robert’s Rules of Order for all business meetings. Today, those types of documents will not suffice as protection for the church corporation, its ministries, or its members.
We have already begun to see churches find themselves in legal jeopardy from not having well written and culturally up to date Constitution and By Laws. We have also seen churches lose legal cases because they were not faithfully practicing and upholding their own rules and regulations. If it is in your Constitution and By Laws then you must follow the written document. If your church culture and practices have changed or needs to change due to growth or decline, then your documents must be amended to reflect those changes.
Wise leaders will include protections regarding doctrinal beliefs and other potential subjective religious beliefs that could affect the church in coming decades. As society continues to fall away from traditional values, the church must also include in detail their beliefs on such cultural hot topics as marriage, homosexuality, transgenderism, abortion, euthanasia, etc. While this may not provide complete protection from persecution and/or legal action against the church, it may help in any potential litigation. The church’s biblical beliefs on doctrine, religious topics, and cultural issues should all be contained in the Statement of Faith section. This section should not be able to be amended except to add further clarification and protection for the church, not to diminish the beliefs found within.
We fully understand that each church may have its own way of doing things, how things are worded, and varying beliefs on doctrine, and religious and cultural issues. The documents provided are simply a sample and not a dictate for churches to follow. However, the documents may be used as your Constitution and By Laws if you wish. Feel free to contact us for any assistance you may need in making the documents your own or to answer any questions that arise.
To aid those in either evaluating their current documents or those who are planting churches, we have provided a Sample Constitution and By Laws in its entirety to give a comprehensive overview of what to include and how to organize a church Constitution and By Laws. Yes, the document provided is lengthy and includes the verses written out rather than simply providing references.
We also have provided the same Sample Constitution and By Laws in an editable format in certain places to take into consideration that different churches call positions or boards by different names as well as may desire different requirements or time frames for accomplishing certain items.
A third Sample Constitution and By Laws is provided with notes explaining sections and the reasons for including those sections and protections in the document. We have found too often that many in leadership simply follow someone else’s work without fully understanding the “why” something is included or done. We do not want anyone to leave our website without full understanding of the importance of this document.
Download the documents you would like to view from the choices below. These documents are also available on our download page.
If you would like assistance in creating or reviewing your church’s Constitution and By Laws, feel free to contact us through the form below.