Churches are known for providing members with spiritual instruction. Churches can also provide members with a community and support network. Despite the benefits of attending church, church attendance has been in decline for decades. While this may be discouraging if you’re thinking about starting a church, it’s important to note that in-home churches and conservative churches have grown in popularity.
Whether you have a liberal or conservative interpretation of the Bible or want to focus on in-home services or constructing a church building, following these steps can help you successfully launch your church.
1. Identify your objectives and beliefs.
Before you can start a church, you need to determine how you define the church and what your objectives are. Do you intend to provide an opportunity for like-minded people to come together for spiritual instruction and worship? Do you want to have a physical building for your congregation? What are the essential beliefs members should agree on? Is there a denomination you want to be affiliated with? The answers to these questions will shape some of the steps in this process. If you plan to construct or buy a building, you will need to raise more money than required to hold services in a home or public space. If you plan to join an existing denomination, they may have guidelines you need to follow.
2. Fulfill your legal obligations.
To start a church legally, you must register your church name. Take some time to review local churches’ names so you can avoid choosing a name that’s similar to the name of a church already operating. Pick a name that reflects your core beliefs and style of worship. Once you have a registered name, you can apply for an employer identification number (EIN) from the internal revenue service (IRS). An EIN is required to open a bank account for your church.
Review the IRS guidelines for churches to qualify for tax-exempt status. Review these guidelines and follow them to ensure that your church qualifies.
3. Start networking.
To have a church, you will need to attract both members and leaders, so go out of your way to interact with others who share your beliefs. Create social media accounts you can use to communicate with existing members. Your accounts can also be used to attract new potential members. Make posts about your values and encourage people by posting scripture or other uplifting posts. You can also create a YouTube channel for your church and post videos. You may opt to make your services accessible via live streaming on YouTube, post short daily devotionals and teachings, or explain your church’s history and doctrine. Another idea is to make videos designed to appeal to children, teens, and adults.
4. Acquire the necessary equipment.
Whether you start with a temporary or permanent space for services, church paraments from reputed church supply retailers, such as Cokesbury, can promote church beliefs. You may also wish to change paraments throughout the year when you are approaching religious holidays, such as Advent, or hosting special services. Other items you may need include collection plates and donation envelopes to collect tithes, communion sets, Bibles, hymnals, prayer books, banners, a pulpit, and musical instruments. All of these are available at Cokesbury, making the buying process smooth and streamlined. If you use a home for services or construct your church, you may need cleaning supplies and chairs.
5. Generate financial support.
Your church will need resources and support to thrive. Start fundraising efforts to generate the financial resources you need to acquire supplies and hire staff. You may also need to hire a tax accountant to review your paperwork and file your tax returns. It may be necessary to have a lawyer prepare or review legal documents if you are joining a denomination. You may also need to consult a human resource professional to prepare employee contracts and staff policies. You will also need funds if you plan to rent public facilities or build a church.