What Are Some Standard Bylaws for Churches?


Quick Answer

Church bylaws include ordinances defining membership criteria and outlining criteria that volunteers must meet to work with minors, notes Compelling Truth. Additional bylaws include the rules that detail job requirements and descriptions for trustees, pastors, deacons and elders, among other positions. In general, church bylaws define the beliefs and outline the operations of the religious organization in question, and for this reason, should be available to all church members.

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Other church bylaws include rules detailing how budgets are created and approved, rules indicating the proportion of church revenue that can be spent on missions, regulations defining how decisions are made, and ordinances outlining how often communion is served, reports Compelling Truth. These and other bylaws help keep order, maintain institutional memory, and aid conflict resolution.

Church bylaws are an indicator of the relative autonomy that federal and local laws grant to churches in certain aspects of their operations, notes Compelling Truth. For instance, federal ordinances allow these organizations to set the qualifications of church leaders, decide who can lead religious ceremonies, and define actions or beliefs that can lead to termination. When church ordinances are nonexistent or inadequate, federal and state laws apply. However, because they may find secular law unsatisfactory, churches should always strive to develop bylaws that are as comprehensive as possible, and encourage member adherence.

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