Church Bylaws - Part A: Don’t Ignore Them!
Bylaws are the basic rules of intentional government adopted by the church. Based on the type of governance a church adopts will determine the application of membership to the function of the church.
Governing documents like the Church Bylaws show who you are and what you are about. They show how you are structured and to what authority you focus. Bylaws amplify the rights and process of membership which is usually, for Baptists a “congregational-led” type governance. Bylaws process the details to conduct business and organize the church to fulfill Kingdom work to a lost world.
It is important that churches include Biblical references and ecclesiastical thought in their Bylaws. This assures the clear purpose and function of the church as a non-profit religious organization and assures legal separation of church and state.
A growing trend is for churches to ignore their existing Bylaws. THIS IS A TRAGIC MISTAKE! Rather than ignore, omit, or misuse – AMEND or RE-WRITE!
There is a legal linkage between Articles of Incorporation filed with the Secretary of State, your Church Bylaws and your 501-(c) (3) status as a church. Churches have the misconception they are outside the law and thus not legally bound to the law. This false thinking will eventually produce legal problems.
Take immediate action in your church to: 1) Use the Bylaws as your ruling document, 2) Amend and update your Bylaws for better use; 3) Be sure you use the document as it is written and as it corresponds with your Articles of Incorporation; 4) Use the old document until you adopt a new version; and 5) Keep Bylaws short and to the point – utilize Policies and Procedures to detail operations of church committees/ teams and activities.
Proverbs 27:12 reminds wise leaders that “the sensible see danger and take cover; the foolish keep going and are perished.” Church leaders should consider carefully the potential for disaster that might befall them and their church if they fail to think about the protection through adequate Bylaws.
Church Bylaws - Part B