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ChurchCounsel.com

Keeping Churches & Pastors Informed and Safe
Welcome to ChurchCounsel.com. Our mission is to protect your church. By proactively assisting churches navigate through the legal and regulatory world we live in, helping churches, from Plant to Established, by generating legal and best practice documents, a suite of online tools to save you time, and provide on call attorney services to manage events and crises which arise and are outside of a church or pastors field of expertise.
Who are we? We are attorneys who specialize in the area of Church Law, from formation to lawsuits and everything in between. We are here to serve the small local church, providing affordable access to sound legal, business, and financial counsel, enabling your church, ministers, and volunteers to spend less time doing paperwork and more time doing ministry.
Why do you need Church Counsel? Church Counsel is here to reduce the burden on the pastor, ministry staff, and volunteers and provide the needed combination of live attorney support, web access to our most requested services, and apps for your tablet or smartphone to keep the church doing ministry and reaching the world for Jesus Chris, not doing paperwork.
Why do we do this? We do this because our mission is to serve the local church so they have more time to do ministry – that is it.  Time is our most valuable asset and our biggest limitation. ChurchCounsel was formed by an attorney with a passion for the local church who wants to maximize the time of those doing ministry and relieve the burden of things they are not well adapted to do. Most pastors, ministers, or church staff are not lawyers, business people, and most do not have the gift of finances. However, those are our gifts, and we want to utilize what God has given us to free up your time so you can impact the lives in and around your mission field where God has placed you.

Areas of Counsel

FORMATION

Establishing or amending your church constitution and bylaws, we are here to help. Whether you are forming a new church, starting a new site, a new campus, or a church plant, these tasks can seam overwhelming at times, but our attorneys are experts at walking you through these formation issues to get your documents in place as soon as possible. There are also important things to consider when you are forming or revising your core documents, and we can assist you with how to properly handle these situations so that you are protected from liability, can quickly receive gifts as a nonprofit, asses your current contracts, legal documents and ensure your liability insurance is set up, and in the correct amount. Our attorneys are equipped to answer these and many other questions.

EMPLOYMENT

When it is time to grow your ministry and increase the number of employees, it is time to be sure you are handling processes in the best manner possible, for the church’s and pastor’s protection and for that of your employees. We can assist with all you need to know in regards to background checks, hiring and termination policies, workers’ compensation regulations, and much more. We can also help with the creation of an employee handbook so that all employees are knowledgeable about the policies on the front end of any possible situation, and it gives you the added liability protection.

SAFETY

In the present day and time, there is no greater concern than for the safety of our church members and staff. Let our licensed attorneys help you maneuver the  laws regarding your liability if an incident occurs on your campus, help implement policies involving the reporting requirements for suspected child abuse, security and safety issues on your property and in your worship services, liability risks with on and off-campus activities, and many other potential problems. We all hope and pray that none of this happens in our ministry, but we must be prepared for the possibility that it does.

TAX & ACCOUNTING

We have an experienced team of licensed attorneys and accountants. This combination gives our clients the best of both worlds. With the knowledge of what the law is and how to apply it, we are equipped to help you navigate the ever-changing tax laws and the subject of ministry tax exemption. Do you not speak up for fear of loosing your 501(c)3? Let us guide you and help you rest assured that you can spend way more time than you think speaking to issues of a political nature and also how to respond to requests for support from political candidates. We would love to guide you on these and other legal and financial issues in your ministry.

Services

Church General Counsel

If you have questions, let us help with the planning and advice. Our attorneys are ready to step into your church’s day-to-day experience and be an available resource for you and your church with live legal and planning support for your ministry, no matter the time, no matter the need. …read more

Volunteer Checker

There was a simpler time when almost any volunteer was welcome to help with just about every activity the church might have. Sadly, those times are gone, and we must do all we can to protect our members from harm and our ministry from liability. …read more

Incident Reporter

An incident report is designed to be filled out by those who witnessed the incident in order to get a first hand and fresh account of what occurred, while preserving important documentation. …read more

Forms, Policies & Procedures

Just as background checks are a necessity for volunteers in your ministry, they are also a must for employees. We have the forms you need to make the process easier, and not just background check forms – we have forms to cover most anything your ministry may encounter. <a href=”#forms_policies”>…read more</a> </strong>

Organization and Formation

Did you know that a church does not need a 501(c)3 tax determination letter to receive tax deductible gifts? That’s right – the only requirement is that you have formed your church prior to receiving gifts.  However, there are advantages to filing for your 501(c)3.  We have helped many churches walk through this process and can assist you and your church to do the same.  From forming a nonprofit entity in your state to getting your federal tax id number, our attorneys know what to do to get you up and running in as little time as possible so that you can receive gifts in a tax deductible manner as soon as possible.

Excursion Organizer

If you transport people to camp, to events, have a bus ministry or any other similar situation, you need our excursion organizer.  This app integrates to your church database so that you can keep track of children, students, or others leaving your campus and when you pick them up.  This app helps you keep records of medical information such as medicine that needs to be dispensed while the child is at camp, or permission slips and medical releasses if someone is injured during the time you are transporting them or they are in your care.

Contract Keeper

With people, products, and services come paperwork and contracts. Our Digital File Drawer will keep up with it all, from Internet contracts to cell phone contracts to property leases to work performed by outside contractors, we will protect your information and store it in a manner that is easy to access when needed.

Employee Organizer

As wonderful as it is to have the needed information collected for each and every employee, it does no good if you cannot find it when you need it. Our Employee Organizer will take care of that problem. This virtual filing system will carefully organize important documents for each employee: Background Check, Job Description, Employee Tracking System for vacation, sick leave, personal leave, etc., Annual Review, and any other information you choose to have on file. Most importantly, we will guide you through the process to make sure you have the legal documents needed for your protection and for their protection.

Church General Counsel

If you have questions, let us help with the planning and advice. Our attorneys are ready to step into your church's day-to-day experience and be an available resource for you and your church with live legal and planning support for your ministry, no matter the time, no matter the need. We can provide on call support for crisis response, legal incident report, and for your everyday non-urgent ministry needs. Plus, all of our plans come with real, licensed attorney review of all our documents. This allows you to have confidence that your ministry has what it needs prior to legal issues arising. When trouble does arise, we can offer subpoena and deposition support and assist in actual litigation if needed through our network of affiliate attorneys in almost every state.

Volunteer Checker

There was a simpler time when almost any volunteer was welcome to help with just about every activity the church might have. Sadly, those times are gone, and we must do all we can to protect our members from harm and our ministry from liability. We can provide systems, polices, procedures and forms you need to protect the church from liability. Background checks are the first line of defense, and often are not done at all, or never updated. Our extensive background checks are more thorough than almost any others, and our automated process screens your staff and volunteers on a regular basis. If we happen to turn up questionable information or even a new criminal record, we can help you with the proper way to handle the situation without subjecting the church to liability.

Incident Reporter

An incident report is designed to be filled out by those who witnessed the incident in order to get a first hand and fresh account of what occurred, while preserving important documentation. Because we are your attorneys, the very powerful “work product doctrine” applies. Our goal is to help analyze situations and protect the church in case bad situations occur, and this app does just that. If an event happens, you notify us and we give you instructions about the documentation we need to give you legal advice. Then you secure eyewitness testimony, pictures, statements and possibly even video of the occurrence. This information is stored directly to our servers and is protected from discovery by any other parties. This level of documentation is vital for our analysis and advice regarding this situation. Additionally, when an Incident Report is generated, your designated leaders are immediately informed of the incident and can review the information with us quickly.

Employee and Ministry Forms for Policies and Procedures

Just as background checks are a necessity for volunteers in your ministry, they are also a must for employees. We have the forms you need to make the process easier, and not just background check forms - we have forms to cover most anything your ministry may encounter. Social Media Policy - Offering Security Policy - Incident Reports - Activity Participation Agreement - all of these forms and policies can keep your ministry out of legal trouble. Another important thing to remember - no one will know or understand your policies unless they are written down. We can help you develop an Employee Handbook so that everyone understands the guidelines.

Organization and Formation

Did you know that a church does not need a 501(c)3 tax determination letter to receive tax deductible gifts? That’s right - the only requirement is that you have formed your church prior to receiving gifts. However, there are advantages to filing for your 501(c)3. We have helped many churches walk through this process and can assist you and your church to do the same. From forming a nonprofit entity in your state to getting your federal tax id number, our attorneys know what to do to get you up and running in as little time as possible so that you can receive gifts in a tax deductible manner as soon as possible.

Excursion Organizer

If you transport people to camp, to events, have a bus ministry or any other similar situation, you need our excursion organizer. This app integrates to your church database so that you can keep track of children, students, or others leaving your campus and when you pick them up. This app helps you keep records of medical information such as medicine that needs to be dispensed while the child is at camp, or permission slips and medical releasses if someone is injured during the time you are transporting them or they are in your care.

Employee Organizer

As wonderful as it is to have the needed information collected for each and every employee, it does no good if you cannot find it when you need it. Our Employee Organizer will take care of that problem. This virtual filing system will carefully organize important documents for each employee: Background Check, Job Description, Employee Tracking System for vacation, sick leave, personal leave, etc., Annual Review, and any other information you choose to have on file. Most importantly, we will guide you through the process to make sure you have the legal documents needed for your protection and for their protection.

Contract Keeper

With people, products, and services come paperwork and contracts. Our Digital File Drawer will keep up with it all, from Internet contracts to cell phone contracts to property leases to work performed by outside contractors, we will protect your information and store it in a manner that is easy to access when needed.