Establishing bylaws is an important foundational step for any church in order to describe membership, officers, committees, meetings, finances and auxiliary organizations. Bylaws help dictate how an organization is supposed to operate and they address specific needs and practices. This is especially important in legal proceedings as a church may be held liable if it does not abide by its established bylaws. When bylaws are not established, a church is held to state standards, which are often stricter than those many churches create.
Define membership. Explain the steps that one must take to become a member of your church, including any statement of faith, baptism or other requirements. Include what conditions dictate and what steps may be taken that result in dismissal from membership, as well.
Name the officers and committees of the church. This can be a list of the offices and committees themselves, rather than those that currently hold the office. Some common examples include Pastors, Deacons, Elders, Trustees, Clerks, Secretaries and Committee Chairs. This list will be different for each church. Include the responsibilities for each of these positions, how they are elected and how long each term is. Include any specific information about what happens in case of a vacancy in any office.
List the regular meetings for the church. Include both worship services and regular meetings as well as official business and officer meetings. If there is any specific order to the meetings, list these instructions as well.
Describe how finances are managed in the church. Include information about current expenses and what members are expected to contribute, as well as information and funding for any additional ministry buckets, including missionary funds, benevolent funds or other special projects.
Include the names and functions of any auxiliary organizations, including Sunday school, youth group, ladies ministry or missionary ministry. Be sure to list any requirements for membership or offices in these organizations as well.
Consider review of your bylaws by legal counsel. Review your bylaws annually to ensure that they are consistent with the current operations of the church.