Developing a Policy for Outside Groups

Create clear understandings for facility use.

Well-developed policies regarding the use of church facilities create a clear understanding between church leaders and users of the facilities, which is critical to good relationships with members and non-members alike. They also help to limit the church’s exposure to property damage and injury claims, should something go wrong in the use of the facilities. How clear are your facilities-use policies in these areas?

ResponsibilityCrystal ClearSomewhat CloudyUnclear
How much space preparation must be done by church staff?
How much by users?
Is the name and contact information for our church insurance agent easily accessible?
How will the space be protected from damage?
Who does what in cleaning up and returning the space to the best condition?
What happens when space is misused or damaged?
CostCrystal ClearSomewhat CloudyUnclear
Who pays for facility use?
How much for which space and for how long?
Are there different rates for members (if any cost) than for non-members?
Between individuals and organizations?
LiabilityCrystal ClearSomewhat CloudyUnclear
What happens when there is physical damage?
Personal injury?
How are repairs made?
How and when are damages assessed?
How does the church protect itself against liability claims?
In what circumstances must users provide proof of insurance?
SecurityCrystal ClearSomewhat CloudyUnclear
Who oversees the safety of the building, its contents, and the people on the property at any given time?
Which areas of the church are available to public use?
Which are always off-limits?
Who maintains a facilities calendar?
Who meets with outside users, and when?
Who conducts a post-use review?

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To learn more about letting others use your facilities, purchase the downloadable resource Managing Church Facility Use.

John R. Throop is a management consultant, freelance writer, and Episcopal clergyman.

This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is sold with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations." Due to the nature of the U.S. legal system, laws and regulations constantly change. The editors encourage readers to carefully search the site for all content related to the topic of interest and consult qualified local counsel to verify the status of specific statutes, laws, regulations, and precedential court holdings.

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