How to Draft Church Bylaws

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Church bylaws establish the system of governance a church follows in conducting its own affairs. Bylaws are kept in the church's records, but are made available to increase transparency and accountability to board members.

Start each point with a Roman numeral. Declare the name of the organization after Roman Numeral I. The address of the church is often added. Indicate how the organization might change its name.

State the mission or purpose of the church. Indicate whether special meetings are allowed outside of the schedule. State who is authorized to make such decisions.

Describe membership qualifications. Churches might be open to anyone, or only to certain believers. Define the difference between general membership, and membership in the board of directors. Identify who has voting rights, and who does not. State that the church includes the congregation in all organization decisions, if such is the case.

Establish a meeting schedule for members of the board or congregation. Meeting are typically held on an annual, monthly, semi-monthly or quarterly basis. The congregation usually meets once, twice or three times per week.

List guidelines for the order of business at each meeting.

Set up a procedure for voting. Indicate whether ballots, "yea" or "neigh" vocal votes or raised hands are required. Identify whether different voting procedures are used for different types of votes, such as election of new board members.

Outline membership in the board of directors. Define the roles and responsibilities of directors. Establish procedures for electing a chairman of the board. Explain the method for selecting new directors, or filling vacancies.

Define whether the church leadership will be present at all board meetings, and whether the senior pastor may sign all of the checks and legal documents for the church. Establish the limitations of pastors, ministers or priests to make decisions.

Specify how salaries will be determined for the senior church leadership, and for members of the board.