Why Your Church Needs a Facility Usage Policy

Every church that opens its facilities for internal or external use needs a comprehensive facility usage policy. This policy not only dictates who can use the space and for what purpose but also protects the church legally and financially. For example, a church faced a potential lawsuit when it denied facility use for a wedding that conflicted with biblical truths, highlighting the necessity of clear, enforceable guidelines.

Consistency with Church Beliefs

Churches often assume that all events hosted in their facilities align with their beliefs. However, reviews sometimes reveal discrepancies, such as non-conforming private events, which could expose the church to discrimination claims. Establishing a policy that explicitly states the types of allowed uses can prevent these issues and reinforce the church’s commitment to its beliefs.

Developing a Comprehensive Facility Use Policy

A robust facility use policy should cover:

  • Usage Terms: Define who can use the church facilities and for what purposes, ensuring all activities align with the church's mission and values.
  • Liability and Insurance: Address potential risks like injuries or damages during events and ensure that adequate insurance covers all activities.
  • Fee Structure: Decide whether to charge for facility use, which can provide more control over the type of events held and help cover maintenance costs.

Addressing Liability and Insurance Concerns

Churches must have clear rules about liability for injuries and damages that occur on their property. For instance, if an injury happens during a basketball game hosted in the church gym, the policy should specify who is responsible—highlighting the importance of having all user groups maintain appropriate insurance coverage.

Navigating Insurance for Different Scenarios

To avoid insufficient coverage, churches should consult with their insurance carriers to ensure their policy accommodates all potential uses of their facilities. This is crucial in protecting the church’s assets against unexpected legal challenges.

Practical Steps to Implement Your Policy

  1. Draft the Policy: Outline permissible uses, prohibited activities, and insurance requirements.
  2. Consult Legal and Insurance Experts: Ensure your policy covers all legal and risk aspects.
  3. Communicate Clearly: Make sure all potential users understand the policy’s terms before they use the facility.
  4. Review and Update Regularly: Keep your policy current with changing laws and church needs.

Protecting Your Ministry with Prudence

Implementing a thorough facility usage policy is essential for any church that allows its facilities to be used by the community. It ensures that all activities are in line with the church's mission and provides legal and financial protection. Remember, it’s about "maximum ministry with minimum liability." You can submit your policies to info@ncll.org for a thorough review by our legal team to ensure all key areas are covered.

For more detailed information and to ensure your policy is comprehensive, please download our full guide on Facility Usage Policy here.