A church is an organization much like any other social group or club. As such, it has a set of rules and regulations by which it abides. Church constitutions lay the groundwork for the organization of the church leadership, elections, missions and other important matters of business.
Elect a group of trusted representatives from the church congregation to write the constitution.
Write the preamble, a short paragraph explaining the reasons for the constitution. Give a brief preview of what is to come in the document, and state what will be accomplished by having a constitution. Think of it as a purpose statement for the constitution.
Document the church's official name. The name listed in the constitution is what will be used on deeds, bills and bank accounts.
Define the purpose of the church. Write the issues your church hopes to address through its various ministries. It should also note the church’s legal status as a nonprofit, charitable organization.
Write the church’s mission statement. Outline exactly how the leadership plans to achieve the church's purpose, such as through mission donations, outreach projects or programs within the church.
Explain the denominational associations of the church. If the church belongs to the Assemblies of God or the Church of God in Christ denomination, it is important to state this in the constitution.
Write the church’s official statement of faith. Include a clear statement regarding the fundamental beliefs the church holds to be true. Most denominations have a predefined statement of beliefs.
Address the requirements of membership. Explain the process of becoming a member and the member's rights and responsibilities. For example, you may require a potential member to attend the church for one year before attaining full membership. Or members can vote and hold offices within the church but they must attend consistently.
Define the election and responsibilities of staff members. Define the election process for the church's minister, and spell out the exact responsibilities of each staff member.
Write the rules for transparency and member meetings. Memver have a right to vote on certain aspects and to be updated on the church’s financial status. Define in the constitution how often the church will hold a member meeting and what topics will be discussed.
Address the church’s financial status. Restate the organization’s status as a nonprofit and explain how you will present the financial information to church members. Designate the church’s fiscal year and specify how the church will support itself, such as through offerings or a side-business venture.
Specify the church ministry organization. Define various departments within the church, such as youth ministry and women’s ministry, and address their leadership and funding.
Determine the church’s ability to own property. In most states, an organization must be incorporated to own property. As such, it must abide by the laws of the state. Detail the church's right as a corporation to own its land and assets. If incorporation is not desired, the church and all its assets must be placed in the name of an individual in the church.
Leave room for amendments. As the church grows and changes, additions or revisions to the constitution will be made. Explain how amendments will be implemented, which usually is done by majority vote.
Plan for the church’s dissolution. Each organization will eventually end. The dissolution section will specify what is to be done with church assets if and when the organization decides to shut down.
Present the constitution to the church congregation for a vote. If the majority accepts it as is, this will be the legally binding foundational document of the church.
Jesse Adams has written professionally since 2008. He writes tutorials for technology products and websites. His work has been featured by the "International Business Times," GeekBeat.tv and other publications. Adams holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Indiana University, and is currently working on his PhD in Literature.