Top 5 Reasons for Church Litigation

Church Risk Management

A single lawsuit can derail a thriving church and cost thousands of dollars, as well as the loss of members and their faith in the safety of the church.

Such a catastrophe can happen to any church without proper risk management strategies in place. Being prepared for the unexpected helps churches to prevent costly claims and devastating lawsuits, creating a secure atmosphere for worship and fellowship.

Click here to watch the episode of riskmgmtLIVE, in which Jerry Sparks and Dr. Richard Hammar discuss the reasons for and trends in church litigation with Mark Steinberg, senior vice president and chief sales officer of Church Mutual Insurance Company. For the past 11 years, AGFinancial Insurance Solutions has partnered with Church Mutual to offer the Assemblies of God Church Program, which insures nearly 4,000 AG facilities.

For the past 22 years, Hammar has reviewed state and federal court cases involving churches. Using the completed data for 2015, he has pinpointed the top five reasons for church litigation.

  • Allegations of child sexual abuse. This issue has been the number one reason for church litigation for 21 of the past 22 years.
  • Property claims
  • Personal injuries, such as slips and falls or vehicular accidents
  • Zoning disputes with the local zoning authority
  • Disputes with insurance companies

For Church Mutual, Steinberg says that property claims are their most common, whether from fire, theft, or some form of catastrophic activity. Church Mutual has made use of advances in technology to offer more comprehensive service, including water, temperature, and motion sensors to help protect churches, and drones to inspect damage and provide faster service.

Fortunately, Steinberg says, they have seen a reduction in claims of sexual abuse of minors. Much of that reduction is due to proper background checks and risk management, leading to fewer claims and cases of abuse.

“I can’t emphasize enough the importance of risk management,” Sparks said, noting that claims are largely reduced or eliminated if a church has the proper risk management practices in place. Risk management enables churches to protect the people under their care.

“Risk management makes a difference, and that’s the most fitting tribute to our efforts,” Hammar said. “You never know who you’re protecting and whose life you’re saving from tragedy.”

Click here to view our Risk Management Resources to learn more about risk management and how you can protect your church from litigation.

To learn more about the AG Insurance Program, contact AGFinancial Insurance Solutions today at 866.621.1787 or email

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