LGL4800EN - Legal & Ethical Faith Community Services

Course description

Meeting the financial, social, physical, and legal needs of a community cannot be met by government alone. Churches and faith-based non-governmental organizations are critical to being the feet of Jesus in a community. Whether it is a food pantry, community center, tax and legal advice, after-school programs, and neighborhood events, these services provide a faith bridge to those who may not be connected with a local church. Although well-intended, these services must be operated ethically and legally. In this course, students focus on understanding what laws apply to these community services and how to develop ethical guidelines for their operation.

How this course benefits students

Undergraduate students are likely aware of many faith-based organizations that exist in their communities. However, it is important for students to recognize that all community services must comply with certain laws and should operate with a defined ethical code. Students are directed to applicable tax and employment laws and have the opportunity to review financial accountability standards for evangelical organizations, as well as existing faith-based community services that operate ethically.

Why this course is important

Governments cannot meet the practical needs of all communities. Churches and other faith-based groups must step in the gap to feed and clothe the poor and, in so doing, will be a witness for Christ. It is critical that these organizations be above reproach and operate legally and ethically. The actions of a Christian are often a greater witness than words. Christ commands that His followers show His love in practical ways, yet also be subject to the rules of the government (laws and ethics).

Credit hours
3 hours
Subject area
Legal Services
Educational level
Learning type
Upcoming terms
* Schedule subject to change. Please contact the Registrar's office with schedule questions.

How this course relates to missional core values

Biblically based

In the New Testament, many of Christ’s teachings involve meeting the needs of widows, orphans, and the poor. Christians can meet these needs in a variety of ways through engaging with their communities.

Missionally driven

Faith groups provide community services all over the world and meet vital needs. Even in countries where proselytizing is not allowed, Christians can act out their faith by providing food, clothing, and other assistance. A missional student must be ready to engage in efforts designed to establish community services.

Contextually informed

Believers function in the temporal world, but should not be ruled by sin, instead always working to transform themselves into the image of Christ (John 17:14-15). Christians can work to transform themselves by showing the love of Christ in practical ways and demonstrating the love of Christ in their communities.

Interculturally focused

All countries rely on non-governmental, and faith-based organizations to meet the practical needs of people within their community. While the applicable laws may vary from country to country, all organizations must demonstrate that they operate ethically.

Practically minded

This course provides students with the practical tools to determine what needs can best be met in a community, the costs involved with providing those services, and the legal and ethical considerations that should be addressed.

Experientially transformed

By reviewing existing faith-based community services, students can identify what works and what does not. Additionally, students have the opportunity to share their own experiences in faith-based community services and are encouraged to volunteer in any local organizations during the course and share their experiences. Further, students have the knowledge to assist an existing organization to comply with legal and ethical requirements.