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Cooperating with Outside Users of Your Church

Church facilities offer great benefits when it comes to hosting large events. Many times, churches will be approached with requests from outside groups to use their facilities. Initially, your organization may be drawn to agree to such a request. However, it can be a challenge to balance being a good community member with the risks associated from permitting an outside group to use your facility. Unfortunately, there are legal liabilities that may come from allowing others to rent church space. Consider the following suggestions when facing this dilemma:

  1. Set Expectations
    Develop a “Facility Usage Policy” that addresses any questions that could pertain to an outside group using your church building. Items to cover include rules, costs, set-up and clean-up responsibilities, sales during events, behavioral expectations and childcare arrangements.

  2. Document Facility Usage Requests
    Make sure you gather the details about the event, obtain contact information and document the process. For groups that are unfamiliar with the church, it may be a good idea to obtain a reference from places where the group has held events in the past.

  3. Maintain an Approval Process
    All requests to use the facilities should go through an approval process with church leaders. A body or team, rather than an individual approval, allows for a broader perspective when discussing the request. Make sure documentation of approval or denial is maintained.

  4. Use a Facility Usage Agreement
    Approved groups using your facility should sign a Facility Usage Agreement, which will confirm costs involved, specify times of availability and state the expectations for the group. Additionally, this agreement should include a release from liability, a “hold harmless” clause and a provision regarding additional insured protection for the church.

  5. Make Sure They’re Insured
    Check to see if the group has insurance coverage limits that are at least equal to or higher than the church’s insurance policy limits and require them to name the church as an additional insured on their insurance policies. Then, follow up to secure proof that your church has been added as an additional insured. This is typically through an additional insured endorsement or a certificate of insurance that shows your church as additional insured.

  6. Premises Inspection
    Conduct an inspection of the premises and document any existing conditions that could possibly lead to an accident or injury to outside users. Take necessary steps to correct these hazards. Also, conduct a walkthrough with a representative from an outside group before and after the event to help settle any potential disputes.

For more information about working with outside users of your church, view the Guidelines for Outside Users of Your Church Facilities fact sheet.

© 2024 GuideOne Insurance. GuideOne® is the registered trademark of the GuideOne Insurance Company. All rights reserved. This material is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to give specific legal or risk management advice, nor are any suggested checklists or action plans intended to include or address all possible risk management exposures or solutions. You are encouraged to retain your own expert consultants and legal advisors in order to develop a risk management plan specific to your own activities.