Church Bylaws Sample & Guidelines

Church Bylaws Sample and Church Bylaw Guidelines are free below to download, modify and print for your new church...

The sample below of the free Church Bylaws is generic bylaws that can give you an idea of how to create your own bylaws if you are just starting your own church.

Church bylaws act as the governing documents of a new church or an existing church and are typically originally formulated at the church’s foundation. Bylaws act as rules of the organization, laying the groundwork for church elections, leadership, missions, programs, and other important matters. Before writing church bylaws, elect a group of representatives from the community who want to become part of a new congregation or those who are already parishioners.

Tips and Warnings:

  • Bylaws can be a method of avoiding crisis situations and can help protect the church from liability. Make sure that they are clearly written.
  • If you choose to incorporate as a non-profit organization, it is important to write the bylaws before incorporating with the state or federal government. See Church Bylaws sample below guidelines.
Guidelines to Writing Church Bylaws
  • 1. Meet with the church board to decide your bylaws and determine the focus of your church. The secretary of the board should take minutes for the bylaw meeting.
  • 2. Write the church’s official name, bank documents, bills, bank accounts and other pertinent documentation.
  • 3. Define the church’s purpose, what you plan to address through your ministries, and your legal status. Is your church a registered tax-exempt non-profit organization or do you have another tax status? This will help you define how you will operate in terms of donations and it’s very important. Only non-profit organizations can accept tax-deductible donations.
  • 4. Discuss the denomination of your church, If your church belongs to a specific denomination, it’s important that you mention this in your bylaws. This will help guide your church’s statement of faith or what your congregation holds to be true.
  • 5. Write your church’s mission statement and outline how the leaders of your church plan to achieve its purpose and goals. Will your church focus on outreach projects or programs?
  • 6. Discuss the requirements for membership to your church, including the process of becoming a member and each congregant’s right, responsibilities, and requirements for members if any applies. Include whether congregants will have voting rights or if the voting rights are heald solely by the board.
  • 7. Define how staff members are chosen or elected and their responsibilities within the congregation. Clearly outline how the choosing or election process will work.
  • 8. Write the rules for board meetings, including who has the right to vote, how the meetings will be regulated, and how often financial updates should occur.
  • 9. Define the departments within your church, such as finance, women’s ministry, youth ministry, pro-life or other areas that your church will focus on.
  • 10. Discuss the church’s ability to own land and have assets and whose name they will be listed under. A church must abide by state laws. Some states require incorporation in order to own land. If incorporation is decided against by the board, then the assets of the church should be placed in one person’s name.
  • 11. Explain how your church’s bylaws can be amended and if majority vote is required. As the church grows, revisions might need to be made to the bylaws.
  • 12. Plan in case the church might be dissolved and how church assets will be distributed if the church closes.
  • 13. Hold a vote to approve the bylaws. If a majority of the board members approve it, this will be a legally-banding document to guide the church.

Creating church bylaws can be a very daunting task so we have a sample below to help you get started.

Click on the link to download:

Church Bylaws Sample

If you need to modify this form, try the site: Free PDF Services. You can convert this Adobe file into a Word document free of charge and make the necessary changes.

Note: You will need Adobe Reader (the latest version is recommended) installed on your computer in order to save or open these forms.

You can get Adobe Reader free here (a new window will open so you can download it without leaving this page).

If you want to open the file in your browser window, just click on one of the links above. However, if you want to download the file to view later, then right-click on the link and choose "Save Target As" or "Save File As". Then select where you want to save the file on your hard drive.

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