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Tips for Starting a Church in Florida

The word church refers to both physical structures people have Christian religious services in and to all Christians. Churches include formal structures that are part of a recognized denomination and groups of people who meet in a home or rented space to share their faith.

Starting a church can be a daunting task, but there are several steps you can take to simplify the process. With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to get your new church up and running smoothly.

Choose a doctrine.


One of the first things you need to do is identify your church doctrine. What are the core beliefs that your church will uphold? Doctrinal beliefs are one of the critical variables that separate different denominations. While many churches may share core fundamental Christian beliefs, they may differ over their worship style or beliefs about spiritual gifts. Your doctrinal beliefs may help you determine whether to join an existing denomination or start a nondenominational church. If you want to join an existing denomination in Florida, take some time to research which denominations have churches there already and the common doctrinal beliefs held by Floridians to determine which denomination is compatible with your beliefs.

Select a structure.


Two critical structural variables will have a significant impact on your church and how it runs. Structure refers to the physical space used, as well as the nature of the services you plan to hold.

You may opt to start a home church to conserve funds and focus on charitable programs. You may also feel it’s crucial to have a dedicated physical space for church events. Determine which option suits your vision for your church. If you opt to build or buy a physical structure, you may need to research inheritance loans and other loan options to secure the funds.

Your structural choices may influence the activities you host as well. For example, Vacation Bible School (VBS) is a popular program designed for children in preschool through middle school. Cokesbury VBS starter kits include step-by-step planning guides, DVDs, music, and leadership manuals. The resources included can be used to train volunteers leading the VBS classes, design posters, come up with ideas for crafts and group activities, and locate additional resources. VBS is a fun and effective way of teaching children New Testament stories and helping children in your church and community form friendships.

If you don’t have a building, you may need to secure space in a home or other facility to host VBS and other special events. Thanks to the warm weather, you can also hold outdoor services in Florida most of the year. If you prefer to have Sunday services indoors, you can still opt to hold youth meetings and other events at parks or other outdoor spaces. Youth can participate in multiple outdoor activities, such as golfing at a golf course or snorkeling in the Atlantic Ocean. You can also plan special church events at local amusement parks, such as Disney World, or visit Universal Studios.

Choose a location.


If you aren’t from Florida, you may be wondering why you should move to Florida. Florida attracts retirees from all over the United States. Snowbirds from Canada also spend several months each year living in south Florida to enjoy the warmer climate. It’s also a popular tourist destination. If you want to focus on ministering to seniors, you can establish your church near a retirement community in central Florida or south Florida. If you plan to hold outreach events targeting tourists, you could opt to establish your church in Tampa, Orlando, or the Florida Keys.

Handle the formalities.


Research local Christian groups in your area, and choose a name for your church that isn’t too similar to an existing church to avoid confusion. Register your church name and review the IRS guidelines for churches. If you comply with the guidelines, your church will qualify for tax-exempt status and do not need to pay federal or state taxes. Your employees won’t need to pay state income tax either because Florida does not have state income tax. Still, it’s a good idea to consult with an accountant and learn about local tax laws to ensure your payroll is handled properly. Your church will also need its own bank account.

Create an operating budget and hire the staff you need to run your church. Once you have a budget in place, you’ll be able to set membership and fundraising goals for your new church to ensure that you have enough money to pay for your church’s needs.

Your decisions about worship style and doctrinal beliefs could affect the type of church you start. Whether you choose to start a house church or build a dedicated structure, you can simplify the process of launching your church by determining who you want to minister to and the types of programs you plan to host. Once you have a budget and the resources you need, you’ll be able to start holding services.