National Fellowship of Christian Churches
Small church info
When your ministry is young and small, few people ever notice it. When you start a church in your basement or living room, the last thing you might be thinking is IRS compliance. "After all," you might say, "It is so small and we are not even sure if the church will ever make it." In recent weeks I have spent some time thinking about the young start up church that is meeting in a home, a temporary facility, or small rented space. It is during these unsure days that certain mistakes are made that can negatively affect the church's success.
I am not ordained, who will ordain me?: The topic of ordination is mysterious in many ways. Not a week passes by where someone does not ask us, "How do we get ordained?" Many people who are called by the Lord to pastor a church believe that they first have to be ordained by another pastor, bishop, or other organization before they can start their church. Contrary to the belief of many, you do not have to be ordained to start a church. What is true is that if you properly establish your church on a solid legal foundation, the very church entity you start will have the legal authority to ordain you as a minister by virtue of your office. You do not have to wait to get ordained and neither do you have to get ordained by another ministry. If you have more questions, please feel free to call us at 302 465 8077. We also cover this topic in detail at all of our conferences.
The church reimburses the pastor's expenses for use of his home: One common mistake I see young churches make is assuming it is ok to pay the pastor's light bill and other home expenses related to the church using his/her home. Section 4958 and the regulation of that section classify such expenses as excess benefit transactions that can cause violators to be fined up to 225%. Over the last several years, we have seen increased IRS scrutiny on such transactions because they are nearly impossible to account for properly. The best policy to have is that if you start the church in your home, you must be willing to absorb the costs and the wear and tear.
No structure: I have worked with many churches that do not incorporate, or form a church structure of any kind for two to three years after holding their first service. Often times they believe that because they started in their house, or because they do not have official offices, then they cannot for a legal structure. That is a big mistake. The potential of personal liability from a lawsuit against you is too big. I spoke to a house church that was being sued because of an injury that occurred to one of the children. Believe me when I say this: You always think it will happen to the other person, but never to you. If you ever become "the other person", you will be glad that you were properly structured. We teach the Ultimate Church Structure and how it is the best tactical move you must make early on.
We are not really much until we grow: Lastly, your mindset as to how God sees you needs to be correct. There were times in my ministry that I often felt insignificant, and even worthless, because it seemed that everyone pastored a church bigger than mine. I was failing to see how immensely valuable God saw me. It was during the summer of 1995 that the Lord got a hold of my heart and revealed to me the great value I was to Him. He said that when I feel worthless, it is because I am under appreciating the work of Christ on the cross. God does not invest in worthless things. He invested His own Son in order that He might have me all to Himself. He has done the same for you, too! Do not let the size of your church determine your value to God.