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THE VITAL IMPORTANCE OF BYLAWS FOR CHRISTIAN CHURCHES AND RELIGIOUS NONPROFITS

Most California churches and Christian religious organizations organize as a “California religious nonprofit corporation.”  This process requires, among many other things, filing Articles of Incorporation with the California Secretary of State.

Vital Importance of Bylaws

In my opinion, probably the most important foundational legal document for a church or religious nonprofit organization are the bylaws.  The bylaws (also called a "constitution") detail specifically how the church or nonprofit will be governed.  Christian church bylaws contain an integrated mixture of doctrine, Bible-based church government provisions, and California nonprofit corporation law.   Therefore, when an internal conflict arises, or if there is an attempt at a hostile takeover of the assembly, or there arises a dispute about doctrine or the roles of the church leaders or members, then prayerfully and carefully prepared bylaws supply guidance, statement of doctrine, standards, disciplinary procedures, voting requirements, dispute resolution procedures, and other needed provisions.

Inadequate Bylaws

Many existing Christian churches have no bylaws, outdated bylaws, or bylaws that no longer accurately reflect their beliefs, church government structure, or present needs.  Worse, many churches have boilerplate bylaws that never accurately reflected the actual church governing structure, and, further, are not even utilized and referred to!  Many of these existing churches ought to amend or replace their bylaws and have an attorney prepare or, at least, review the bylaws for usefulness, integrity and legal compliance.  Then, they need to abide by such bylaws and follow corporate formalities which will help shield them from liability and guard against certain types of internal church conflicts.

Note: Churches should further have a Written Political Campaign Policy.

Disclaimer

Copyright 2008
By Attorney Matthew B. Tozer
All rights reserved

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