Congregations start nonprofit organizations for many worthwhile purposes: to feed the hungry, care for victims of domestic violence, care for and educate children, build health care facilities in distant corners of the world, and so much more. Starting a nonprofit often is the most effective way to carry out parts of the congregation’s mission. However, the relationship between a congregation and the nonprofit it creates can become a tangled mess quite quickly if they lack a clear contractual agreement.
I had always assumed that religion was a naturally nonprofit enterprise. But then, while touring Nashville with a fellow minister, I heard the story of a Presbyterian named Frist. “You know how Bill Frist’s family became billionaires?” my colleague asked.