As one of the largest and fastest growing states in the country, Texas is ripe for growth, and nowhere is that growth more evident than in the number of new churches that spring up every year. If you happen to live in a part of Texas that doesn’t have a church that matches your beliefs, you might consider starting your own nondenominational church. Though doing so can involve a lot of bureaucratic red tape, it doesn’t have to involve a lot of start-up capital.
Analyze your proposition
Before starting your church, you need to have a reasonable belief that your endeavor will succeed. In most cases this will mean believing you have a calling, or some other legitimate reason, such as comments from members of your community.
Get ordained as a minister, either online or though another nondenominational church. While it’s not legally necessary, being an ordained minister gives you credibility.
Check with close ties in your life. If you choose to start a church you will need the support of your family and friends.
Start having services
Schedule a service. Pick a time, date and place for your first service, even if it's in your own living room. Reach out in your community and invite people you think would be interested. While it’s nice to have your family and friends at your first service, it’s generally best to invite other people as well. This will mark it as a true church event, the first step toward forming your congregation.
Get up in front of everyone and give a sermon. It’s best if you write it first, especially if you are new to sermonizing.
Pick a regular time for future meetings. Keep having your services at the time and place you announce. Soon others will begin to believe in your commitment to the new church.
Expand your church. Find a bigger, more prominent place to meet. Advertise and start passing around a collection plate at services and other events.
Make your church a legal not-for-profit enterprise
Choose an official name for your church. Every church has to have a name so that people will know what your faith is and can decide whether to join you.
Get at least four other people to serve with you. Texas law states that in order to form a nonprofit corporation, you must have at least five people in your organization: three directors, a president and a secretary.
At your first meeting with officers of the church, vote to choose the president and secretary of your corporation.
Hire a lawyer to help you become a legal not-for-profit church. A lawyer can help you form a limited liability or regular corporation. This corporate entity will help to protect you and your family from financial or legal liability if issues arise in the future. Ask your lawyer to help you obtain a federal and state Employment Tax Identification Number (EIN) because even as a nonprofit organization you will need to pay employee taxes. Your lawyer can also fill out and submit an IRS Form 1023, which is required to become a not-for-profit organization. When this is approved your church will become a 501(c)(3) tax exempt institution.
Now that your church is a corporation, you have to follow rules to remain a legal entity. The main one is holding corporate meetings.
- It is completely legal to start a church in Texas without forming a corporation.
- You don’t have to serve as the pastor if you don’t want to.
- If you don’t incorporate your church, you run the risk of becoming liable for any debts the church incurs, including payments associated with a lawsuit.
- As the leader of a church, you can expect that others will hold you to a high standard of conduct.
- church. Entrance of a church image by L. Shat from Fotolia.com