Lesson 8: Purchasing or Leasing Real Estate for Church Use

Important note: As a reminder, churches in America can, without persecution, choose to honor the principle of separation of church and state with the protection of the highest law of the land dealing with the relationship of church and state, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. See, Is Separation of Church and State Found in the Constitution? Many churches in America have declared and are declaring irrevocable Bible trusts. The trustees of such trusts have presented the trust documents to financial institutions as they obtain trust checking accounts, sellers and lessors of real estate, county property tax assessors, etc. when managing the affairs of the trust. The trust documents have been examined by lawyers of the financial institutions, the lessors and sellers, etc. Trustees have bought or leased real estate, opened trust bank accounts, obtained property tax exemption in the name of the trust on the Lord’s property being held in the trust estate, etc.

Go to the following webpage for links to additional lessons as they are added: Lessons on the Bible (Common Law) Trust 

Lesson 8: Purchasing or Leasing Real Estate for Church Use

Jerald Finney
Copyright ©, February 3, 2022

Churches with ungodly (contrary to God’s Word) Biblical or religious beliefs have no problem with uniting church and state since that is what their ungodly beliefs call for. Churches who understand God’s principles concerning the His desired relationship with church and state are determined to honor their Lord and forebear from spiritual fornication with any earthly civil government or power. See, Written Lessons on God’s Desired Relationship between Church and State. This lesson teaches how a church choose to honor God’s Word and please God in the choice and use of real estate for a meetinghouse.

A church declares a trust relationship with property so as to conform to God’s New Testament guidelines for church organization. See, Lesson 3: Trust is a Bible Concept  and Lesson 6: The church Bible Trust relationship is not something new. Churches under Christ in every thing (under Christ alone) have, by definition, always honored it.. See, Bible Doctrine of Church for details on our Lord’s Will for His churches. A church who purchases or leases real estate or insurance on that real estate in the name of or covering—regardless of the name of the insured on the policy—the church, as opposed to in the name of the trust and covering the trustee (as legal owner of the property) has acted in a temporal, earthly, legal manner and set herself up as a legal entity who can sue, be sued, contract, be charged with a crime, be sued in civil court, etc. She has placed herself under an authority other than the Lord Jesus Christ for many matters. She has profaned the holy. She has grieved the Lord and acted contrary to His Will.

Churches in the New Testament, and a remnant of churches since, have followed the New Testament doctrine of separation of church and state in these and other matters. A church cannot choose to become a legal entity and still be separated from civil government, the state. The authority over a church who is a legal entity is, for many purposes, civil government. The only authority over New Testament churches is and was the Lord Jesus Christ.

Who owned the real estate where New Testament churches assembled? Not the churches. They never held real estate. They never held personal property. They understood and applied God’s principles of the Bible trust relationship with property. For example, members of those churches gave personal property (to include money) to God for purposes consistent with His Will. Each giver lost all title to the property he gave; all ownership was permanently transferred to the Lord Jesus Christ to be used according to His Will. Of course, one had free will to honor the Lord as to his giving; but failure to do so had negative consequences. What they gave was held by a person (who, definitionally, was a trustee) who managed the property held in trust for the benefit of the owner, the Lord Jesus Christ, according to His Will. See, Acts 4:34—5:5.

New Testament churches, as to the matter of assembling themselves together, must, therefore, meet on property owned by someone other than the church. Someone can allow them to meet on his real estate for free. Or, they can meet on the property held in trust and  managed for the sole benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ, the named owner of the property. See, Lesson 1: The basics of the Bible Trust and how a Church which has established a Bible trust can become a legal entity thereby nullifying status of the church as a spiritual body under Christ and Christ alone and Lesson 3: Trust is a Bible Concept.

Once the trust relationship is declared in writing, the trustee of the trust, in conformity to the will of the Lord, the owner of the property, should the need arise, lease or buy property in the name of the trust, not in the name of the church. The property obtained is not the property of the church. As explained in prior lessons, although the trustee is the legal owner of the property leased or purchased, he, according to the trust documents, has no authority to use the property in any way for his own personal benefit or to sell trust property and use any proceeds for his own benefit; all proceeds must be used according to the will the Lord, the owner, for His benefit and according to His will as given in His New Testament. He is the testator, and the Lord’s Will, declared in the New Testament, explains how He wants His property to be handled. The New Testament of Jesus Christ:  His Executor Named and Empowered.

When the trustee leases property for a meetinghouse, the trust is listed on the lease as the lessor. When he buys property for a meetinghouse, the trust is named on the deed as owner of the property. The trustee, as earthly holder of the property, is the legal owner (the one walking in this world who has the authority to hold and manage the property), and the Lord is the true, beneficial owner. The property is not owned by a church, in name or through a trustee. The property is owned by the Lord Jesus Christ.

To negotiate a lease or sale of real estate for a meetinghouse, the trustee presents a copy of the trust paperwork to the lessor or seller of the property, and explains that he is trustee of the trust and that the owner is the Lord Jesus Christ. Trustees have had no problem in making such purchases and leases.

The trustee, when purchasing the real estate, should simultaneously work with the county assessor. He should inform the assessor that he, as trustee (never as pastor since these are two different function) is planning to purchase the property, to be used “for religious, or church, purposes only.” He should examine state property tax exemption law, the application for the property tax exemption to make sure that it does not compromise the trust or the church in any way, etc. Lesson 8a: Property tax exemption of trust real estate (to be added).

He should also, as he is preparing to buy or lease trust real estate, contact an insurance agent about obtaining liability, fire, and/or other insurance on the trust real estate as he is in the process of buying  or leasing. Lesson 8b: Obtaining insurance on leased or owned trust real estate.

In all these and other actions as trustee, the trustee should make clear that he–as trustee not pastor–is acting as legal owner of the property and should present the trust paperwork to the parties he is working with. He should never state that he is acting as the pastor of the church or on behalf of the church. He is acting on the behalf of the Lord Jesus Christ in managing the property in the trust estate, all of which is owned by the Lord, not the church.

This ministry is here to help all along the way in this and all matters. For example, the ministry advises the trustee as he leases or purchases the property, researches state property tax laws, court religious property tax cases interpreting those laws, the application for the property tax exemption, obtaining insurance on the property, etc. and discusses those matters with the trustee as he proceeds.

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