The purpose of the bylaws is to determine how a church is managed. They provide information on the organization’s structure and internal procedures such as the duties of its officers and can protect the organization from potential problems by clearly outlining rules around authority levels, rights, and expectations.
In general terms, these are some of the more important details typically covered in a church’s bylaws:
- Management voting rules. Specifying how important decisions get made is a key part of a church’s bylaws. Who will have a vote, how many votes are required to approve resolutions, and how votes are cast are all examples of important issues that are addressed in bylaws. The bylaws’ voting rules also cover things like what sort of approval is required to dissolve the church or sell significant property.
- Rules governing meetings. Bylaws can spell out a wide variety of details about how management meetings are conducted. How much notice is required before a meeting is held? How many members are required for a quorum? How often should meetings be held?
- Management powers and responsibilities. A church’s bylaws can define the specific obligations of a member of its board or management group, as well as anyone serving as an officer. The bylaws also define the authorities granted to officers and directors. For example, bylaws may specify who may bind the church contractually, who sets budgets or hires the senior pastor.
- Procedures for replacing directors and officers. Bylaws describe the process by which a director or officer may resign or be removed, as well as the process for filling an empty seat.
- Designating the church’s mission and denomination. It can often be important to a church to define its religious views in its governing documents.
While there are guidelines for what exactly is included, charities and churches have a lot of leeway into what exactly they include in their bylaws. We’ve attached a bylaws template to get you started.