Church refers to physical structures used for Christian worship services, but the word also refers to a group of people who share the same doctrinal beliefs, and it can be used to refer to all Christians. Although many traditional churches have church buildings, others use private or public spaces for their services.
Starting a church requires following many steps. With careful planning, you can launch a church that will model the beliefs and practices you value.
The first step is determining how you define the church. Is your goal to build a physical structure for worship services, or do you want to start a formal fellowship for likeminded people to gather together for worship services? Some of the steps outlined here will not apply if you do not intend to construct or buy a church building.
Start a Fellowship
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has guidelines that explain how churches can qualify for tax-exempt status. Meeting regularly with people who share your religious beliefs is one of the critical requirements for being recognized as a church. Whether you meet in your living room or rent a space in a community center or school, if you are holding regular meetings where you discuss your beliefs, you can begin qualifying for tax-exempt status as a recognized church.
Establish Your Doctrine
Doctrine refers to your specific beliefs. If you plan to join an existing denomination, you may adopt their doctrine. If you intend to start an independent church, you will want to review doctrinal statements from other denominations to determine which beliefs you wish to include in your doctrinal statement. You should also have a statement of beliefs outlining the goals for your church and how your church differs from other congregations. Your doctrine and statement of beliefs can be used to attract likeminded members.
Create a structure for leadership within the church and elect board members to oversee critical decisions. Your church will need people with administrative experience to deal with your application for tax-exempt status and banking. You may also need to apply for permits to host services. An effective leadership team can ensure your congregation can worship without disruption.
You will need to register your church under its name. Research local names to ensure you don’t pick something that people will confuse with an existing church. Your church’s name should reflect your beliefs and style of worship and stand out from other congregations. Once you choose a name, you can apply for an employer identification number (EIN) from the IRS. This will allow you to file tax returns and open a church bank account.
Embrace technology to reach your existing members and promote your services to new potential members. Use p2p texting to remind congregants of upcoming events. This is an effective way of communicating directly with your congregation at the same time. Peerly’s app allows you to send text, pictures, and documents. This is an efficient way to maintain communications with all members and ensure they are informed.
You can also use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to promote your services and events. You may also opt to create a Youtube channel where you can post videos of sermons and services.
Whether you plan to construct a building or not, you may need to engage in fundraising to raise the capital needed to rent a space for services, hire professionals to complete tax documents and legal paperwork, and purchase items you need for your congregation. You can also collect tithes from your congregation at your meetings and use them to cover your church’s needs.
Invest in resources that fit your worship style and the tone you want to set for your church. You may need Bibles, hymn books, preist shirts, robes, and communion supplies. Church suppliers can provide the resources you need for your services.
Insurance providers offer packages designed for religious organizations. An insurance expert can review your needs to determine what type of coverage you need. Insurance can protect your supplies and provide coverage if there is an accident during one of your services.