Church bylaws are rules and policies that dictate how a church should conduct itself on specific matters. Church bylaws are often set by individual religious bodies and vary depending on the spiritual practices and convictions of the denomination's parishioners. Bylaws for a specific church can often be found on that church's website.
Most church bylaws are rooted in the religious texts held sacred by a particular church. These statutes typically speak on topics such as membership, duties of church staff, financial procedures and proper parishioner conduct. They are often written to solidify the vision of a religious body and safeguard against misconduct.
Churches usually employ one of three governmental approaches to set the groundwork for its bylaws: Episcopal, Presbyterian or Congregational. In an Episcopal form of government - as practiced by the Roman Catholic church - the head of the church carries the bulk of the decision-making. Churches with a Presbyterian form of government use panels of elected or appointed elders or deacons to govern. Congregational churches utilize a more democratic form of government in which each church member is given an equal vote.
Many denominational associations, such as Baptist or Assembly of God, offer general messages of faith and suggested sets of bylaws to be adopted by individual churches.