Any time you try to write a bio about yourself, it’s always funny. I don’t want to brag about who I am or the blessings God has bestowed on me, but people want to get a feeling of who you are when they read your blog, or so I am told. I could give you the nitty-gritty on who my fifth grade teacher was (it was my mother – yes, I was homeschooled) or I could tell you about starting my very first business at 18 (a video production company), but that might just bore you. I want to tell you who I am and why it might matter to you.
I grew up in church, always in church. Unlike some children who came to resent that later in their teen years and into college, I embraced it. I have been heavily involved in church media since the age of 12, and continue that to this day in a variety of ways. During my undergraduate years, all three of them (what can I say – I can be an overachiever at times), I worked for a large Southern Baptist mega church – Cross Church – and directed, produced, and edited the weekly Sunday services that aired both nationally and internationally. I later went on to be the media director at our church’s second campus and continued until I went to law school. All told, I have worked for a church as an employee for over six years and as a volunteer for 22 years. I attended Liberty University School of Law; Liberty was a great place. I am sure a good number of you reading this today attended that school and, as I’m sure you feel, Lynchburg, Virginia hold’s a special place in all of our hearts. I learned a great deal while attending Liberty. Basically, Liberty has the same 50 minute classes every law school has, but adds an additional 10 minutes of religious filtering of what we just learned. It was a great environment and it did more then just teach me legal theory – it taught me legal thinking from God’s point of view – something I will always be grateful for.
I love the local church. I am still a member of Cross Church, serve in our College Ministry, as an usher, and as a media team member. I also serve as legal counsel for the church as a whole. This is why Church Law is so important to me. I have seen both as a volunteer and an employee what church life is like – and I get it. I have been part of small churches (while in Law School) and mega churches and I like both. I understand that one does not directly translate to the other. Realizing that pure economics can be a challenge for small churches has caused me to ask the question, “What can I do? What can I do to help the churches of America, not just the churches in my own town.” I am shocked at how little information seems to be out there regarding what I call Church Law. Church Law, as I define it, encompasses more than just laws and regulations that apply to churches. It is the application of secular laws to a religious body of believers, including the pastors, the staff, and the members of the church.
I hope to bridge and stand in the gap between the church world and the secular law. God has given me the passion to stand up for churches and educate them on how they can avoid getting into a place where they need court room representation. I have represented many churches and several pastors. Representing a church in court is not fun. The hard part is that the church did not need to be there, but there we were arguing for something that we should have not have had to argue. A lack of planning forced us into a situation that was not desirable. The bad news is we lost; I wish I could have done more, but the facts were stacked against us. Too often, churches assume they can get a pass just because they are a church. I am here to say they cannot.
Planning is very important. It is my goal to educate pastors and church leaders that they can avoid unpleasant results by taking steps on the front end in the area of Volunteers, Staff Employment, Property and Services Contracts, and Church Formation Documentation. The biggest reason these areas suffer is that they are simply out of most pastors’ thought process – because they are busy ministering and doing church. My personal goal is to help by giving information and bringing up these issues before the church has an unpleasant outcome.