Norfolk house church growing since lockdown
At least one Norfolk church, which meets in people’s homes, has seen its numbers grow since lockdown eased. One of its founders, Barrie Lawrence, explains.
“Hey, are you having Praise on the Patio this Sunday?” asked a fellow on the phone.
Since the easing of lockdown restrictions, we have seen significant church growth. Not online, and not on Zoom, but in the flesh, so to speak.
We are a small house church, called Liberty! (not Liberty Church - just Liberty!), and we started in 2011. The Lord called us into being through a dream. A few miles north of Norwich, out in the Styx, we have a committed core, whilst a few hundred others have come and gone. Before Christmas 2019 there was much more going than coming, and we shrank to around half a dozen. Then lockdown, and just Wendy and me singing our hearts out, having communion and praying.
As lockdown eased, one or two (well, more actually) who had left, asked when we would start again. Result - we asked the Lord for dry weather, and had Praise on the Patio every Sunday with social distancing. When it was scorching, we had Ovation under the Oak. New people joined us, and they brought more new people. New people often bring new people. A young man who had worked for me started coming. Then his sister....
Now there is the government’s Safe Six rule. As we are not officially a ‘church’ but a ’home’, we cannot have 30. Just six. But rules can work both ways, and if we are not a ‘church’, we can sing. I sing here every day, and Wendy and I sing together.
Now others (up to four) join us. We open the windows, socially distance and really SING, have communion, pray, share testimony, even preach, etc. But too many people wanted to join us, and we realised that we needed more homes. We now have four venues - one just north-east of Norwich, another towards Yarmouth, one outside Stalham, and another here at Frettenham. Each can currently have six. More Lord, please.
We encourage people to identify their gifting and to ‘do it’. We expect the Lord to be present in power, to heal, bring miracles, and change lives. He does. He always has.
Some look incredulous, and ask questions such as -
“What about money? You’re not asking for money?” No, we don’t want your money. Just ask the Lord, and give to his work and the poor. Be generous.
“Will you ever have a building?” Not unless clearly directed. Aren’t there enough already!
“Will you have paid ministers?” We are all priests according to the Bible. If the Lord calls some into full-time or part-time ministry, he will provide.
“Can we call you pastor?” Don’t you dare!
Our vision is to have numerous such churches of 12-20 people across the city and county, but also meeting together to identify as one church very regularly. If my dreams don’t scare me, I’m not dreaming big enough. We need leaders who share this vision (essential), who are servants (essential), who encourage and make room for others (essential), who are generous (essential) and accountable (essential).
Any questions? Reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Pictured above are attendees after a Liberty meeting in a house (before the rule of six).