The first thing you need to think about is WHY you want to start a church.
Is this a full-time calling for you? Do you just want to formalize your current situation of preaching in someone’s living room? Are you interested in fundraising? Doing weddings and other services? Outreach to the community? These are things to consider because they are things that you will be asked when filling out all of the forms.
You need to decide also if you are going to do a simple ministry or if you are going to want something more formal, to solidify your tax-exempt status. It really just depends on the size of your church. If you are planning on making a fair amount of money through the church and plan on having it support you, then you will also need to incorporate. We will cover that down below. If you don’t plan on making any money or only small amounts that will be spent on the ministry itself, it may not be necessary. I found that incorporation was inexpensive and easy to do and made it easier to do a lot of the other things I wanted to do with the church.
Once you have decided your purpose, the next thing you need to do is to decide upon a name for your church. Be aware that there is a difference between a church and a ministry. A church is a legal entity and a ministry is just people preaching. The difference is something quite legal.
Once you have decided upon a name, you need to get your own EIN number. EIN stands for Employer Identification Number. It’s kind of like a social security number for a business. You have to have one to have a church. To acquire this number, you’ll need to get an SS4 form from the IRS. This can be found at the www.irs.gov website. http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=102767,00.html
First things first, look over the SS4 form and jot down your answers. Then call the toll-free Business and Specialty Tax Line at 1-800-829-4933 should you need assistance applying for an EIN. Foreign Addresses (addresses outside the continental USA, Alaska and Hawaii) call 215-516-6999. They will walk you through the process of getting the number. They were very helpful and polite and made the whole thing very easy.
When you’re finished, jot down that number in a safe place. You’ll need it for a lot of things, so keep it handy.
In a few days, you will receive a paper from them that states that you have a church, you are the one in charge and what your EIN number is. Keep this paper safe and make some copies of it. Again, you’ll need it later.
When I went to open a bank account in the church's name, I recall needing the EIN#, Statement of Faith, Beliefs, Articles of Inporporation, Bylaws and Opening Resolutions. I had the best luck with Wells Fargo Bank. Best to have all of your information ready to go.
You’ll need to create some bylaws for your church, as well as to personalize your Articles of Incorporation. Please feel free to use the ones supplied in the links below.
If you wish to apply for tax-exempt status, you’ll also need to fill out a 501(c) (3). If you don’t have a specific determination of tax-exempt status, you will need to file your taxes as a regular corporation. Confer with your tax accountant about that to be sure of the specific tax requirements for your situation. My suggestion, when filling out this form, is to be as specific as possible with the information you share.
After filling out my initial form, I had to submit an additional 29 pages of information to my very helpful IRS agent reviewing my application. I will add some of the answers to the general questions he asked to help you form answers of your own. Please don't just copy them directly. Change the words to suit your own circumstances.
Below are some links to other pages on the site that have information you may use. Please use them as guidelines and customize them to suit your specific church name and situation.
FROM: IAIA Accreditation TO: Dr. D. James Kennedy: Can you be as Bold as Him?
FROM: IAIA Accreditation TO: Cambridge Theological Seminary, USA
FROM: IAIA Accreditation TO: Free Ordination-1 by Cambridge Theological Seminary
FROM: IAIA Accreditation, TO: Religious Degrees, Bachelor's, Master's and Doctorate
FROM: IAIA Accreditation, TO: A few Recent Ministry Partners
FROM: IAIA Accreditation,
FROM: IAIA Accreditation, TO: Ministers Main Page
FROM: IAIA Accreditation, TO: Home-Based-Ministry: Serve God, Make Money, Save Taxes
FROM: IAIA Accreditation, TO GENERAL HOME PAGE
FROM United FOR Christ GLOBAL: TO MINISTERS HOME PAGE
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