How to Start a Church In 6 Easy Steps

If you want to form a spiritual community of like-minded people but are dissatisfied with your local options, consider establishing your own church congregation. While it's in no way a walk in the park, starting a church is an incredibly fulfilling and rewarding experience. Not only will you create lifelong memories with your community, but it'll also encourage people to pray where their heart is. Plus, you'll be able to share your thoughts, passions, fears, and joys among people you trust and respect.
In this guide, we'll walk you through a step-by-step process on how to start a church, from crafting a mission statement to applying for legal status.

Step 1: Start a Small Church Group

Before building your own church, establish a group of like-minded people with similar beliefs. This way, you don't have to start from zero and crawl your way up.
Your church group doesn't have to be particularly large or widespread, but it should contain at least five or so people. Legally, the IRS requires every new church to have at least three founding members. All three mustn't be related by blood or marriage.
Once you've established the group, make sure you meet on a regular basis. Throughout your meetings, don't hesitate to discuss your plans and share your thoughts with the group.

Step 2: Craft a Mission Statement

Starting and running a church isn't easy. It takes time, dedication, passion, and money. Additionally, you need to attract enough members to keep it running. This is where your mission statement comes into play.
Ask yourself this: why are you starting a church? What are your core beliefs? What are you hoping to accomplish and bring to the community?
More importantly, why should people listen to you?
If possible, summarize your thoughts and ideas in less than 500 words. It should be clear, concise, and straightforward. Let your statement be your guide throughout the church-building process.

Step 3: Establish a List of Bylaws

Once you've written your mission statement, establish a list of bylaws that'll govern your church. This list will serve as a sort of "rule book" that you and your members should follow.
Every church follows a list of bylaws. If you're not sure where to start, consider visiting other churches and asking them about theirs. You can also look up church bylaws online and modify them to your preferences.
Your bylaws should cover the following points:

Decision Making

How are decisions made in your church? Does it have to go through a series of hierarchies, or does it simply require a set number of votes? If so, how many votes are required to approve resolutions?


How are meetings conducted? In the same vein, how often should meetings be held? Who isn’t allowed in the meetings? How many members are required to officially conduct business, cast votes, etc.?

Responsibilities and Power

Legally, who's responsible for your church? Who's allowed to bind the church contractually? What are the obligations of each member of the church, alongside its board and management group?

Replacing Directors and Officers

What process does your church follow in terms of removing and replacing an empty seat?


What’s your church's membership process? How often do members have to participate and/or attend? How often do they have to contribute financially, if at all?

Step 4: Implement Policies and Procedures

Church policies and procedures make sure that your church complies with state and IRS regulations. Compared to bylaws, which outline governing structures and rules for decision making, policies and procedures guide the daily operation of the church.
There are a number of administrative policies you can implement, including, but not limited to:
  • Conflict of interest policy
  • Accountable reimbursement policy
  • Endowment policy
  • Indemnification policy
  • Benevolence policy
  • Gift acceptance policy
  • Pastor’s discretionary fund policy
  • Safe sanctuary and limited access policies
  • Building use policy

Step 5: Incorporate Your Church

Once you have all the required documents ready, it's time to incorporate your church. You and your launch team must answer the following questions:
  • Where do you want to establish the church?
  • Who do you want to reach in your community?
  • How many members do you reasonably expect your church to have?
  • Does your church require funds or donations? If so, how much is necessary?
  • Will this be a part-time job or a full-time calling?
If you haven't already, choose a name for your church. It should be something unique, distinctive, and descriptive. Once you've chosen the name, visit the office of the secretary and make sure no other organization in your state exists with the same.
Then, draft and file a certificate of incorporation in the same office.
The Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as the Federal Tax Identification Number, is a nine-digit number given to you by the IRS.
Church organizations, no matter how big or small, are eligible for tax expectations. To qualify, your church must follow the below requirements:
  • Established and operated for religious, scientific, educational, or other charitable purposes
  • Net earnings shouldn't be distributed among shareholders or private individuals
  • Mustn't intervene in political campaigns
  • Mustn't devote a part of its activity to influence legislation
  • Must be legal and in line with public policy
Alongside tax exemption, you also need to obtain formal documents of incorporation filed by a government body. You can do so by either visiting your state's Business Bureau or visiting your state's website and filling in the request form. Upon its incorporation, the church legally holds the same rights and responsibilities as an individual.
If you're struggling with the legal documents, don't hesitate to consult with a lawyer. Hiring a lawyer makes the legal process as straightforward and thorough as possible. Just make sure you have sufficient funds to cover the cost.


Starting your own church is often a long, laborious process. However, seeing the fruits of your labor far outweighs the risks and disadvantages that come with it. If you're seeking to add value to people's lives and your community, starting your own church is the way to go. Moreover, it'll help you become closer to God and your beliefs!