Why you Must Have a Building Use Policy for Churches: How to Establish a Church Facility Use Policy
Churches are vital community centers. They offer a sense of stability and belonging in a rapidly changing world. In addition to being places of worship, churches serve as social service agencies, after-school programs, daycare facilities, and more.
Because they play such an essential role in the lives of their members and the wider community, churches must have clear policies governing the use of their religious facilities. A well-crafted building use policy will help your church function smoothly and avoid misunderstandings and conflict.
Here are some tips for creating a church building use policy:
What is a Building Use Policy For Churches?
A church service usage policy is a document that outlines the rules and regulations for renting out a church’s facilities for functions that are outside of its traditional use.
Creating a Church Facility Use Policy is essential for any church or organization that allows its sanctuary to be used by others. It should include critical considerations such as who can rent the space, what activities are permitted onsite, how much it costs to rent the space, and any other rules related to its use.
Additionally, churches should consider including religious freedom protections in their policy to ensure they have legal safeguards in place if there are any disputes over the usage of the facility.
Why do you Need a Building Use Policy for Churches?
1. To define the procedures and conditions for using church facilities
Procedures and conditions should be defined in a building use policy for churches to ensure that all users of church facilities are aware of the restrictions in place and can comply with them. These may include:
- Alcohol and smoking policy: No alcohol may be served in church facilities, and no smoking is allowed within the buildings and must be in designated areas if allowed.
- Fundraising Policy: No for-profit fundraising or activities are allowed while using the church facilities or property, and 100% of any funds collected must be given to a non-profit group previously approved by church leadership.
- Groups are restricted to only those areas of the facility they have reserved; Food & beverages should remain within .within fellowship hall or approved areas designated by the pastor/designee.
- Specify any groups prohibited from using the church property: If the religious organization restricts their facility to outside groups that go against their religious beliefs, it should be spelled out within the facility use policy.
2. To ensure a safe environment for all users
A building use policy is a set of guidelines used by churches to limit their liability when allowing members and guests to use their facilities.
A building use policy for churches is to ensure that the church takes all possible measures to reduce the likelihood of accidents or injuries occurring on their premises. This includes ensuring exits are marked, emergency lights are installed where necessary, exit routes are clear of obstacles, and exit doors are unlocked or equipped with panic bars.
3. To establish accountability among users and the church
A building use policy helps establish accountability among users and the church by clearly outlining the purpose, intended beneficiaries, and guidelines for using church facilities. It ensures that users understand their responsibilities and have knowledge of any restrictions placed on them.
A clear understanding of these elements helps avoid misunderstandings or disagreements between users and the church.
For example, if there are restrictions on who can use a particular facility or how long it can be used for, both parties will be aware of this information from the outset and can plan accordingly. Additionally, having a written policy in place creates an official record that can be referenced if questions arise later on down the line.
4. To ensure that the right resources are available for the suitable events
Resources needed for church building use policies include:
- A schedule for applicants to plan their event, such as which days of the week and time slots are available.
- A clear definition of who is authorized to use the facilities, such as which group of people or specific individuals.
- Guidelines on how long an event can last, any restrictions on noise levels or activities taking place in the building during that period, etc.
5. To ensure that the building is being used efficiently
A church building usage policy agreement should include details about waste disposal, where cleaning products/tools can be found, and any rental fees associated with cleaning services. Additionally, it’s essential to ensure exits are marked, emergency lights are installed on below-grade floors, exit routes are clear of obstacles, and exit doors are unlocked or equipped with panic bars.
Furthermore, steps should be repaired or replaced if needed; extension cords should be removed from walkways; worn or torn carpeting should be replaced; non-slip floor treatments should be used in areas where there is potential for trips and falls; throw rugs removed from staircases; parking lots illuminated at night time so that guests can easily find their way around your facility after dark.
Finally, any questions regarding safety issues related to the building must be addressed with an insurance agent before proceeding further with activities inside the building, such as hosting events or renting out spaces for meetings etc..
6. To ensure that the church is protected from liability
Churches need to have a building use policy because it helps to protect the ministry from potential liability. Accidents and injuries can occur when groups borrow or rent church facilities, even if they are not the event sponsor.
Without a formal agreement, your church could be held liable for any damages or injuries resulting from these activities. A building use policy can help ensure that all groups using your facility have adequate insurance coverage and are held accountable for their actions.
Furthermore, having an approved agreement reviewed by an attorney will strengthen your legal position should someone sue the church due to an accident or injury on its property.
7. To ensure that there are no misunderstandings among users
A Building Use Policy for Churches is a document that outlines the rules, regulations, and procedures for using church facilities.
It provides an overview of who can use the facilities, what activities are allowed or prohibited, when and how long the facilities can be used for, any fees associated with usage, and any other essential details such as insurance requirements or faculty use guidelines. The purpose of this policy is to ensure safety and security while allowing members of the church to make use of their facilities according to their needs.
8. To provide a uniform experience for all users
Having a consistent experience for all users regarding church building use policies is essential because it helps ensure everyone knows their responsibilities and what to expect. Having clear guidelines and procedures in place ensures that both parties are prepared for any potential challenges or legal issues that may arise.
9. To ensure that your church is keeping up with best practices
The purpose of having a building use policy for churches is to create boundaries, set expectations, and establish responsibilities to ensure successful events in the multipurpose space. A well-written policy will outline the rules and regulations regarding the use of the facility, such as safety measures for kitchen usage or church equipment.
10. To ensure that your church is meeting the needs of its community
A building use policy helps ensure that a church is meeting the needs of its community by providing an organized framework for event hosting. It helps to ensure that both parties know their obligations and responsibilities, such as any potential legal issues or challenges that may arise. Additionally, it can help churches identify which facilities should be open to the public and which should remain private. With this guidance, churches can better serve their communities by providing spaces where people can gather for events like weddings or funeral services.
How to Create and Implement your Church Use Policy
Step 1: Decide which facilities are open to outside groups
The church facility rental policy should include a list of the facilities that are open to the people, such as the kitchen, nursery, and church hall. It should also specify which services are available, such as marriage services. Additionally, it should outline who is authorized to use these facilities (e.g., members of the congregation only). Finally, it should state any restrictions or guidelines regarding the use of these facilities (e.g., no alcohol consumption in church sanctuaries).
Step 2: Outline the purpose
Clearly outlining the purpose for using the church property within the building use policy for churches is to clarify how the church facility is to be used safely by visitors and staff members. It also helps the organization establish rules and regulations related to event planning event setup times, such as scheduling timeslots and setting restrictions on certain events.
Additionally, it helps organizations comply with local laws regarding facility usage, if applicable. A well-written policy will help protect both parties involved in an event from any legal issues that may arise later.
Step 3: Specify the use
A church building use policy for churches can outline the different uses of the facilities and services the religious organization offers. It can include details such as:
- Which group of people is authorized to use the policies?
- What is the approved users’ conduct?
- Facility use hours and fees.
- Faculty use guidelines and insurance details.
- Applicant form with provisions for all necessary details.
Step 4: Get the policy authorized
Churches have an elder board that must review and approve policy documents related to renting out the church property. Here are the most common steps required for this process.
- Present the idea to the board members and see if this is the direction they would be interested in offering to outside groups
- If approved, present the idea to the church members and answer any questions or concerns raised by the members.
- Hire an attorney to draft a building use policy for churches acceptable in your specific state.
- Present legal documents to the board for finalization and approval.
- Have the building use policy reviewed annually for required legal changes and updates.
Step 5: Implement the policy
Now that you have an approved building use policy for churches, it is vital to implement it and not make any changes without first talking with your Attorney. Outside groups may want items crossed out, which could negatively affect the agreement.
Commercial Insurance Requirements for Building Use Policy for Churches
1. Commercial liability insurance
Commercial liability insurance is a type of insurance that provides coverage for legal liabilities arising from business activities.
Churches must obtain commercial liability insurance to limit their legal liability when using buildings. This type of insurance typically covers medical payments, property damage, and other losses resulting from a lawsuit due to negligence or wrongful acts. It also provides coverage for any additional insureds listed on the policy, such as the building owner.
It is essential for a building use policy for churches to include liability protection when outside groups use their facilities.
2. Church Property Insurance
If an outside group uses your facilities, they should provide business personal property coverage that covers their private property in the event of theft and fire loss. This will help ensure they don’t attempt to sue the church if their belonging is damaged when left on the church property.
3. Personal injury liability insurance
Personal injury liability insurance is a type of liability insurance that covers damages arising from personal injuries caused by an individual or organization.
When churches rent or borrow facilities for use by groups, they should require them to obtain liability insurance with coverage limits that equal or exceed the church’s policy limits. The group should also name the church as an additional insured on its policy, provide a certificate of insurance showing that the church has become an additional insured on its policy, and ensure that any agreement used is reviewed and approved by a local attorney.
4. Abuse and Molestation Insurance
Churches must have abuse and molestation insurance to protect against claims of sexual or physical abuse, harassment, and molestation. This type of insurance covers medical costs associated with the treatment of victims, legal fees associated with defending against allegations of abuse or molestation, and compensation for any financial losses from the alleged perpetrator’s actions.
5. Workers’ Compensation Insurance
Building use policies for churches typically require workers’ compensation insurance, which provides financial assistance to employees who have been injured on the job.
The type of workers’ compensation insurance required depends on the state and industry in which the church operates. Most states require employers to provide workers’ compensation coverage for their employees, though some states allow employers to opt out if they meet specific criteria.
Churches should work closely with their church insurance agent when developing insurance guidelines for an outside group.
Additional Named Insured Building Use Policy For Churches
Requiring outside groups to name your church as an additional insured on their insurance policy ensures the church is protected not only by their church insurance policy but also by the groups renting the church facility.
Ensure you collect both the certificate of insurance and the insurance policy endorsement.
How can you Protect Your Ministry While Lending Your Building to the Community?
This should include how long they are allowed to stay, what activities they can do, and what damage they can cause. Additionally, it’s crucial to secure any valuable items in the building, such as private documents, equipment, and furniture. Finally, it’s essential to have someone monitoring the building during usage hours and ensure that all necessary safety protocols are followed.
Taking these steps can help protect your ministry while allowing community members to use your space for their needs.
What is the Building Use Policy for Churches?
The Building Use Policy for Churches is a set of guidelines that church leaders can use to ensure their church has the most significant legal protections possible when allowing its facilities to be used for non-traditional purposes, such as religious services, prayer meetings, Bible studies, or other events.
The Building Use Policy should include general rules and guidelines that apply while on church property and any additional rules specific to the type of event being held. This policy must be clearly outlined in writing, so members and non-members know their responsibilities when using the facility.
Additionally, it should outline procedures for approving or denying requests to use the facility and specify any fees associated with it (if applicable). Finally, it should include information about how disputes will be resolved if they arise between parties involved in using the space.
How can I establish a Church Facility Use Agreement?
1. Determine if your church is prepared to share its property by developing well-formed policies regarding the use of church facilities.
2. Create a fee schedule for different rooms and activities, considering federal and state tax laws.
3. Establish a reservation policy that prioritizes ministry events and congregant requests over outside party requests and community events when scheduling rooms for use.
4. Include details in your building use policy on what activities are allowed, whether the furniture can be moved around, and what to do with dirty dishes (e.g., dishwasher).
5. Appoint a facilities manager who will track building scheduling using a centralized calendar system (e.g., Google Calendar) and approve building request forms before granting access to any room within the church facility complex or grounds area(s).
What are the usage policies for ministries in a church?
The usage policies for ministries in a church should include the following:
- A clear statement that the facility is available only for church-approved purposes.
- A detailed description of what constitutes an “approved purpose,” including any restrictions on who can use it and what activities can take place in the facility.
- Guidelines for renting out the space for weddings, anniversary celebrations, or other events that may require special accommodations or additional fees.
- Instructions on handling liability issues that may arise from using the facility for non-church-related activities such as sports practices or game rentals (e.g., if a child is injured due to a broken plank on the floor).
What are the liability insurance policies for a church facility usage agreement?
The liability insurance policies for a church facility usage agreement include the following:
- Obtaining liability insurance with coverage limits that equal or exceed your church policy’s limits.
- Naming your church as an additional insured on the group’s policy for any liability damages arising from its activities on your property.
- Indemnifying, defending, and holding your church harmless for any liability claim arising from the group’s activities on your property.
- Providing a certificate of insurance showing that the church has become an additional insured on the group’s insurance policy.
Are churches insured for liability claims?
Yes, a church building use agreement is essential when allowing groups to borrow or rent your facilities, as this will help protect your church from potential liability claims. Churches will be protected from liability losses by obtaining proof of liability insurance and being named on their policy.
What should be included in a facility use policy?
When creating a facility use agreement for churches, you should include items such as:
- A clear understanding of who can share the property and under what conditions.
- Guidelines for setting fees for renting the space, including for different rooms and activities.
- A reservation policy that defines priority scheduling for ministry events and congregant requests over outside party requests and community events.
- Details on what activities are allowed in the building, whether the furniture can be moved around or not used in certain areas of the building, how dirty dishes should be handled after an event is over etc.
Needs A Church Insurance Agent to Protect Your Rented out Space
Having a church insurance agent on your side is essential to protecting the space you rent out for worship services, religious events, and other gatherings. Integrity Now Insurance Brokers is an experienced church insurance agency that can provide coverage for any damages or losses during these activities.
We can advise you about what type of insurance the space needs to protect against possible risks such as fires, floods, vandalism, theft, etc. Having one of our experienced agents by your side will give you peace of mind knowing that your church and its rented-out space are well-protected with the proper coverage.
Call and talk with one of our licensed church insurance specialists today.