Church Planning 101: How to Start a Church

A church is more than just a place of worship; it can be the center of a community. If you’ve decided that you want to take it upon yourself to create this kind of home in your community, there’s a lot that you’ll need to make sure you learn.

There’s a lot you’ll need to get familiar with when it comes to how to start a church. There are many laws at the federal and state level that you’ll need to abide by.

What do you need to know right now before beginning this long but rewarding journey? Read on, and we’ll walk you through what you need to know.

Registering Your Church

When you think of creating a brand new church, your mind probably fills up with images of pews, people in their Sunday best, and a sense of love. What you probably don’t think of as much is paperwork.

But that’s where your journey will start.

In order for your church to get opened, you’ll need to incorporate and register your church with the state government. That’s the state in which you reside and plan to open your place of worship.

Before you are able to register your church, you’ll need to land on a name. You’ll be stuck with this name for some time, so make sure to pick out a name for your ministry that you can be proud of!

Once you have it, you’ll need to reach out to the state secretary’s office and ensure that there isn’t already a church or organization out there that is already using the same name. If you live in a very large state, it might be difficult to get a hold of the name you really want.

Articles of Incorporation

Once you have your name selected, you’ll use it to file with the state. The main piece of paperwork you’ll need to complete is known as the articles of incorporation.

The articles of incorporation are a collection of documents needed to bring your church into legal existence. Nothing involved should be too difficult to get through. There will be a statement of purpose, a dissolution statement, and other paperwork that will be required by the IRS.

Are you thinking that you will be ordaining ministers as part of your practice? If so, you’ll want to make mention of this in your statement of purpose so that the state is well aware.

After you submit your paperwork, you will receive what is known as a tax identification number. This is a string of numbers similar to a social security number but intended for businesses and organizations instead.

This will be the number that you will use to complete all your taxes in the future. It’s the number the IRS will have on file for you. It means you have completed the registration successfully!

You can use software like the one available at to help prepare what you’ll need each year for the IRS.

The processing time between submission and receiving this number can be many weeks. It’s best to get a head start so as you’re not stuck waiting on the IRS to come through. You don’t want to have to stop and wait.

This is the most grueling part of the new church process. Once you’re through this, you can turn your attention to the more appealing portions.

Building a Strong Congregation

What’s a church without the people who will populate it? Now that you’re registered with the state government, you can turn your attention to getting people in through your front doors.

There are many ways to grow the congregation of new churches. In fact, a great deal of the work can be done prior to the doors of your church even officially opening to the public.

The best thing you can do to build your congregation is to get as involved as possible with the local community. Become a person who most people who live in the community you plan to service know.

How do you do this? Volunteer as much as possible. Attend events or attempt to even host your own and invite those from the neighborhood. The more you can get to know the people around you, the more likely they’ll be interested in joining your church once you’re up and running.

You can let people know as you meet them that you’re planning on opening a church (or, if you’re later in the process, that you already have).

Encourage them to come and join you. If you’ve already built strong relationships with those around you, there’s a much higher chance they’ll come and join you to worship come Sunday morning.

Once you have some people coming in, these individuals can help you expand your congregation through their own personal networks of friends and family.

You can also spread the word of your new church in places where the local community gathers. Print posters and information and put them up in coffee shops, schools, and where ever people tend to gather.

Create online accounts for your church as well and spread the word across social media. Any way you can get the word out will be beneficial.

How to Start a Church

If you’re looking to make an impact in your direct community, you might be interested in learning about how to start a church. The above information can help you get through the paperwork and establish a home for worship you can be proud of.

While registering your church and building up your congregation may take some time and effort, it will be well worth it at the end of the day. A spiritual home for your community can be a very special thing.

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