Formal facility use agreements are a must-have for any church or organization with meeting spaces. It’s important to create boundaries, set expectations, and establish responsibilities to ensure successful events in your multipurpose space.
Not sure where to begin? We’ve put together a helpful guide to get you started.
Creating Effective Church Building Use Policies
- Customization: Every church is unique, so your facility use policies should be customized to fit the specific needs and values of your congregation.
- Clarity: Make the policies as clear and straightforward as possible.
- Legal and Insurance Considerations: Consult with legal experts and insurance providers to ensure that your policies are compliant with local regulations and provide adequate coverage.
- Addressing Specific Scenarios: Tailor your policies to address common scenarios, like weddings, community events, or use by outside organizations.
What’s Included in a Church Facility Use Policy?
There are many pieces involved in creating a church facility use policy. While every church or organization is different, there are some components of a facility use policy that will be standard for most organizations. Before you begin creating your church facility use policy, meet with key stakeholders in your organization and gather ideas, suggestions, and set rules for your rental space.
Here is a list of items to include in your building use policy.
Include your mission statement and values in your usage policy. This helps set the tone and gives potential occupants an idea of your expectations and purpose. The mission statement will also establish proper oversight for the upcoming event.
Keep in mind that you will likely need to set some boundaries regarding who is able to use your facilities. For example, renting to a group that holds opposing values may upset members of your congregation. Including your mission statement helps set the expectation that any groups using your facilities must align with your values, or at least take a neutral stance.
Approval & Eligibility
No matter how your church handles the application process, there needs to be a fair, transparent approval process. If you do not have a formal approval process for events, now is the time to create one. It can be as simple as a form to fill out or as detailed as an interview process with references. That choice is up to you, but you need to have a system in place to ensure a fair and transparent selection and approval process.
It’s also worth including a non-discrimination clause in your church facility use agreement that explicitly states your church does not discriminate against potential renters based on any protected status. This includes race, color, religion, age, sex, handicap, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, and veteran status.
Establish a schedule for applicants to plan their event. Will you only allow events on certain days of the week? What time slots will you offer? Ask yourself these questions and come up with a schedule.
Create a list of fees you will charge and be transparent about them in your facility use policy. Ask yourself these questions:
- Will you charge a rental fee for chairs and tables and other equipment?
- Do applicants have to pay for any utilities or other costs associated with using the facility?
- Will there be a cancellation fee for events that are called off at the last minute?
- How much will you charge in deposits? Will deposits be non-refundable?
Once you’ve answered these questions, put the details into your church facility use policy. Additionally, you should clearly outline what is included in the rental fee, whether that be a room full of tables and chairs or simply the use of the church kitchen. The more information you include, the less guesswork involved for both parties.
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Chances are that your church or organization already has a set of general rules and guidelines to follow while on church property. Be sure to include this in your building use policy. You may also want to create additional rules based on the type of event.
If your meeting space includes kitchen usage, another set of guidelines needs to be established. Does your church include utensils and other kitchen items in your rental package? Make a list of what is and is not included in the kitchen. Be sure to spell out cleaning duties as well.
Cleanup & Waste Disposal
Waste disposal is another important item to include in your church building use policy. Set the expectation with applicants so they are aware of what they need to clean. Include details on where to dispose of trash and where cleaning products/tools are located. Some churches will do the cleaning themselves for an additional fee.
Building occupants will likely need to use overhead projectors, microphones, speakers, mixing boards, and other A/V and media equipment. If you choose to rent out equipment, include all fees associated with rentals in your use policy.
Sports & Equipment
As with audio and video, put together a list of any sports equipment rental and usage. Keep an inventory of all items in case anything goes missing after an event. Make sure occupants are aware that they will be responsible for any lost or damaged property.
Set Up & Tear Down
Will your church agree to set up the stage area or tables and chairs? Or will the occupants take care of that? Whatever you decide, set clear expectations of what the visiting party is responsible for during the event setup and tear down.
Liability Statement or Waiver
This one is particularly important if your church or meeting space includes a kitchen or gym equipment where accidents could occur. Plan accordingly to ensure the safety of your guests. This means keeping the facilities clear of any hazards and informing guests about the proper use of your equipment.
At the same time, you need to make sure your church is protected from liability within the facility use agreement. Consult with your church’s lawyer or seek out additional counsel from a legal professional who is well-versed in premises liability.
The Importance of a Detailed Facility Use Policy
Establishing a building use guide will ultimately make events more organized for both parties. The church will be prepared to handle any potential challenges or legal issues, and the event guests will know exactly what is expected of them while on church property.
If you’re ready to jump into hosting events, consider whether you want to invest in chairs and tables first. Including seating in your venue is a major selling point. If you’re looking for a chair or table vendor, consider partnering with ChurchPlaza. We’ve been endorsed by 47 national denominations, ministries, and/or publishing houses. Reach out to our team to see how we can take care of your seating or furniture needs today.