How to Start a Christian Nonprofit at Home

by Mike Andrews

Starting your own nonprofit, Christian ministry at home starts with a vision--a sense of calling or mission that melds meeting others' needs with hope, willingness and determination. The possibilities for home-based Christian nonprofit ministry are as endless as the unique gifts, interests and abilities of anyone with a desire to serve. However, the steps to getting a ministry started remain the same for all.

Pick a name for your organization. Ideally, it should suggest what your Christian ministry is about in a way that's attractive and memorable. Your name should immediately speak to anyone who may be interested in it, whether they are people in need, people who might financially support it or people who might volunteer to help you.

Log onto the IRS website and go to the EIN request form to secure an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your organization (see link in Resources). Your EIN identifies your organization for the federal government. An EIN is required of all nonprofit organizations, even if you don't plan to have employees.

Visit your state secretary of state's office website to download the forms to register your nonprofit. The initial documents are usually called "nonprofit" or "initial" articles of incorporation. Most secretary of state's office websites have a nonprofit organization section with all the relevant forms and documents collected together. (See Resources for a list of secretary of state office websites nationwide.)

Appoint officers or directors to serve on your organization's board, which provides oversight for the organization and is required of all nonprofit organizations. Recruit only Christian individuals who share your religious convictions and desire to help accomplish your organization's mission. Work with your board members to draft the initial bylaws of your organization.

Complete your articles of incorporation with the name of your new organization, the location of your principal office and a description of your organization's Christian religious purpose(s). Be as specific about your ministry's Christian mission as possible. Your articles will also require you to list the starting officers or directors, and to appoint a "statutory agent"---the individual who will be the contact person for your organization with the state.

Make a copy of your articles of incorporation and any supporting documents for your records and mail the original to the secretary of state's office via the address indicated on the forms, along with the filing fee.

Begin carrying out your Christian nonprofit's mission. If you choose to seek recognition of your tax-exempt status from the IRS in the future, you'll need to demonstrate that your organization's activities meet the IRS guidelines for tax-exempt organizations. Consult the IRS exemption requirements for 501(c)(3) organization to confirm that your organization will qualify. (See Resources for a link to this information.)

About the Author

Mike Andrews is a freelance writer and serial entrepreneur focused on small-business and entrepreneurship for average people. He holds a bachelor's degree in biblical studies and a master's degree in theology and has appeared in a wide array of print and online periodicals including "HiCall," "Mature Living" and "Caregivers Home Companion."

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