House church: The newest ‘oldest’ concept in churches offers different worship service

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 1, 2002

Features Editor

House Church? What’s that?

Dwayne and Laurie Nicholson are raising a few eyebrows in the Brundidge area as they have introduced the concept of house church as "another form of doing church."

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"Some people have asked us if it’s a cult," Laurie said with a smile. "But, no, house church is not a cult. House church is a way to reach people who aren’t being reached by the more traditional churches."

House church is "the newest oldest thing around as far as a church."

"The earliest churches were held in houses," Dwayne said. "The Bible speaks for going from house to house to worship. House church is a new concept of the old church and the house church movement is growing all across our nation."

Dwayne said millions upon millions of worshipers in countries such as China and India are worshiping in homes – out of necessity.

In the United States, people choose house church out of desire.

Dwayne and Laurie are both graduates of the New Orleans Theological Seminary and both have strong backgrounds in the Baptist Church.

When Dwayne graduated from seminary, he never considered being a pulpit minister. He always wanted to be a missionary. Laurie, too, felt God’s calling to do something "different."

That desire and that calling led the couple to organize a house church, called the Community of Grace Fellowship, in their home at 239 Church Street in Brundidge six months ago.

"We are not trying to put down traditional churches and we are not trying to compete with them," Dwayne said. "We are simply trying to reach people who are unchurched, who are not growing in their church or those who desire a change. Anyone who believes in Christ or who is searching is welcome."

A house church is a simple church with no frills, no ceremony, no rituals and no symbolism, Dwayne said. "It is simply a time for the people of God to come together with Jesus in the midst. We talk; we sing; we pray. We share what God is doing in our lives. We minister to one another and we seek to encourage and build each other up in faith."

Laurie said she always has food ready for those who attend.

"Food helps everyone to relax and it creates an informal atmosphere where everyone feels comfortable," she said. "House church provides an easy, relaxed atmosphere. If anyone has a question during our discussions, they feel comfortable about stopping the discussion and asking what they want to know – or need to know."

Dwayne said house church is a form of home missions because there are many people in the Pike County area who do not attend church and they need to be reached.

"It is sometimes easier to get an unsaved person to come to house church than it is to a traditional church," he said. "They might not have the proper clothes to attend a more traditional church or they might feel they won’t be accepted for other reasons.

Everyone is welcome at house church. And, everyone comes as they are before God."

Although Dwayne and Laurie both have "Baptist heritage," house church in non-denominational.

Dwayne said the important elements of house church are the same as for traditional churches – praise, worship, prayer, sharing, teaching God’s word, water baptism, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, holy communion, evangelism and the personal ministry to one another.

There is no membership list.

"Those who belong to the Lord are all members one to another," Dwayne said, adding that house church is unique in that its goal is to stay small.

"Our goal is to be the smallest church in Brundidge," he said, with a smile. "When we grow too large for the space we have, our plan is to divide and have another house church.

"We like to say that a house church was ‘born pregnant.’ It was born with a vision to give birth to another church. Traditional churches don’t want division. They want growth. House church grows by dividing and multiplying. We fully expect that every church birthed out of Community of Grace Fellowship will also be ‘born pregnant.’"

Open meetings of house church are held at the home of Dwayne and Laurie Nicholson at 6:30 p.m each Sunday.

"Church is in session when two or three followers of Jesus comes together," Dwayne said. "House church is simply a church that meets in a house. We invite all who will come to house church and Laurie and I ask for the prayers of all believers as we follow the leading of our Lord Jesus Christ."