As the leader of a religious organization, it easy to focus solely on achieving the vision that has been given to you, and to block everything else out. When it comes to running a faith-based organization, which is a business, you have to think about how you will protect your vision and the organization.
Contrary to popular belief, churches and faith-based organizations are sued quite regularly. According to a study conducted by Church Law & Tax the number one reason why churches appeared in court from 2010 to 2013 stemmed from:
- allegations of sexual abuse of a minor
- followed by property disputes,
- personal injury disputes,
- insurance coverage disputes,
- zoning disputes,
- and religious freedom disputes.
Organizations that interface with the public are inherently at a higher risk of ending up in court. You come into contact with thousands of people through many different types of relationships, which increases your exposure and liability. While it is impossible to guarantee that one of those relationships won’t fall apart and send you to court, there are several very real and tangible steps you can take to minimize your liability with your congregants, employees, and members of the public.
Take the time to determine where your organization’s greatest exposure lies and figure out how to minimize that exposure as much as possible. Consulting an attorney well-versed in working with churches and non-profit organizations is a great first step.
Asha Wilkerson is the founder of The Wilkerson Law Office. She is also the author of Employment Law for Church Leaders. Ms. Wilkerson provides skilled advice and counsel to for-profit, non-profit, and faith-based organizations in the areas of business and employment law. The mission of The Wilkerson Law Office, is to preserve the longevity of your business by ensuring that every aspect of your organization is legally sound and operating in compliance with state and federal law.