Tuesday Re-mix –
How would you describe your church to your next-door neighbor? How would you describe your church to that neighbor’s 6-year old daughter? How would you describe your church to another pastor in your community? How would you describe your church to the homeless person on the street? HOPEFULLY, you answered each of these questions differently, because you cannot know how to describe your church appropriately unless you first know something about the person(s) to whom you are describing it. Right?
The audience matters. While the pastor down the street may want to know something about your church’s theology, your neighbor’s 6-year old daughter could not care less about that. While your neighbor may want to know about your church’s location or your worship style or your ministries, the homeless person on the street just wants to know if there is a place there to get some food or to sleep for the night. The point is, it is important to understand what the person wants to know before you start describing your church.
So what does the government want to know about your church? What about the legal community? Believe me, it is an entirely different set of questions from any of these, and probably different from anything you might imagine. The government wants to know what kind of taxable entity you are, and if your are not taxable, the government wants to know why not. The days when the IRS just “assumes” you are a church because of your name or just gives you the benefit of the doubt are long gone (if those days ever really existed in the first place). The lawyers, on the other hand, want to know what kind of legal entity you are (that is a different question from what type …