We recognize and appreciate that outreach ministries may extend beyond a weekly service. Our churches embrace ministry in many forms: food distribution programs, providing shelter for those in need, and so much more. All of this good work is such a wonderfully expansive view of ministry. However, opening your doors beyond weekly worship opens your congregation to additional risk.
OPEN YOUR DOORS
Any time church facilities are being used by groups not directly affiliated with the church, leases or Facility Use Agreements are needed. Common features of such agreements are:
- Terms of indemnity (assures the tenant is responsible for things that happen because of their activity, and they will defend the church and make it whole for any claims).
- Proof of insurance (financial means to back up indemnification).
- A requirement that the church (and officers) be named as additional insureds.
- Instructions on the use of property and facility (security, hours of automatic on/off for lights and HVAC, etc.) and what to do if a problem arises when the group is on-site.
- Limits on accessible areas if the group is only using a portion of the church, or if specific areas are off-limits.
- Warnings about any hazardous conditions on the premises.
- Depending on the situation, you may determine you need to provide additional supervision, and if so, it should be stipulated.
- If alcohol is served there will be additional requirements (obtaining a liquor license, liquor liability insurance and acknowledgment by the group that no one under the age of 21 will be served).
A Facility Use Application can begin the process and can be as simple as name, dates, and purpose. Your church will want to ensure that the proposed use of the facility is in keeping with the goals of the church’s community outreach and ministry. From this information, you can develop the agreement. We strongly encourage you to require indemnification language in the agreement along with proof of insurance. Please work with a local attorney to draft a template for your use. If the group does not have insurance, we recommend a Tenants Users Liability Insurance Program (TULIP). This coverage allows a third party to obtain low-cost insurance for the use of your facility while protecting the user and the church. This coverage is available through Insurance Board. If your church does not want to require users to obtain a separate insurance policy, you may choose to pay the premium for the group. As you know, Insurance Board is a program of churches by churches. The risk one church takes affects all of the participants. We all have a role and responsibility to minimize risk and protect the future of our ministries.