How up-to-date are your church bylaws? Does your constitution include a dissolution clause? What are some dangerous ideas about pastoral compensation? Has your church protected itself against the majority of possible lawsuits? What do you do if you suspect domestic or child abuse within your congregation? Are we going to lose our tax exemption?
I get many questions that relate to legal issues and the local church. I’m not an attorney, and laws vary a little from State to State. So I generally refer people to a lawyer practicing in their own region to get these answers. But some have told me that finding a lawyer familiar with church needs is actually getting harder.
Meet my friend, David Bodanza. Dave is the pastor of Mission of Grace Church in Gardner, Massachusetts. He is also a partner and attorney with the Law Offices of Bodanza and Bodanza in Leominster, Massachusetts. Dave knows both the Church and the law well, and has become well-versed in guiding local congregations through matters of incorporation, writing bylaws, tax exemption law, safety and security, pastoral compensation and much more.
As Dave and I walk through this very detailed and informative conversation, many of the questions churches have asked me over the years are answered. And on some topics, I learned new things as well! In an effort to make this resource as helpful as possible, I’ve broken our conversation up into 12 episodes. Each of the links below is a separate podcast (available on all major platforms), offering you a separate download, so you can take your time working through the material. If you like what you hear, please subscribe for our regular, weekly content.
Note: The content and conversation in this podcast series is NOT legal advice. It is for informational purposes only. If you would like to follow up on anything you learn here, please contact an attorney who is licensed to practice in your state.
Your Church and the Law
Each of the links below is a separate MP3 file to make this information as user-friendly as possible. Please feel free to share these episodes with your pastor, church leadership or others in the church who may benefit from our conversation. Please note that this interview took place during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Pandemic “Stay-at-home” Order, so there are references to reopening churches in some of these topics.
- Episode 1 – Getting to Know Dave and Mission of Grace Church
- Episode 2 – Articles of Incorporation
- Episode 3 – Church Bylaws and Statement of Faith
- Episode 4 – Tax Exempt Recognition
- Episode 5 – Pastoral Compensation
- Episode 6 – Church Safety
- Episode 7 – Church Security
- Episode 8 – Child Safety
- Episode 9 – Church Conflict
- Episode 10 – Divorce and Domestic Abuse in the Church
- Episode 11 – Dissolution
- Episode 12 – What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do
The following resources were mentioned during the conversation covered in these podcast episodes.
Books & Materials:
- Church Safety and Security: A Spirit-led Strategy to Pursue the One and Protect the Ninety-nine by Jason White
- The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande
- The Christian in Complete Armor by William Gurnall
- Mission of Grace Church’s Membership Application (Example PDF)
- CDC Guidelines for Reopening Your Church (PDF)
- Whitehouse Guidelines for Reopening America (PDF)
- IRS Conflict of Interest Policy Template (Website)