House churches are an idea from Bible times that is making a comeback. These small groups appeal to people who are looking for an alternative to the traditional Sunday morning mega church experience. Peace Tree United Methodist in Tennessee is a growing congregation that meets a lot of places, not one of them a church building.
(Locator: Memphis, Tennessee)
Jennie Dickerson, Peace Tree United Methodist Church: “I always come away from this energized and rejuvenated and I always feel like I have learned something and deepened my relationship with God. It’s unlike anything else I’ve ever been a part of.”
Jennie Dickerson did not expect to start hosting church in her living room and not going to a sanctuary, but when she met the people of Peace Tree United Methodist near Memphis, Tennessee, she knew it was a good fit.
Jennie Dickerson: “It’s been such a blessing to me to open my house to everyone.”
The Rev. Kristofer Roof: “Dear Lord, thank you for this night and a chance to come together…”
In 2015, the Rev. Kristofer Roof launched Peace Tree United Methodist, which has no church building. Instead, there are meetups in apartments and restaurants almost every night of the week.
The Rev. Kristofer Roof, Peace Tree United Methodist Church: “I really just felt that God was calling me to do something that was ancient but modern. I saw that established, traditional churches were not reaching certain people.”
The Rev. Kristofer Roof: “We circulate around people’s homes. Everybody gets a chance to host. Everybody gets a chance to lead worship. We’re very much trying to be with the people and meet them where they are.”
Participants aren’t expected to come every night but they are encouraged to stay connected.
Jordan Thomas, Peace Tree United Methodist Church: “In college, you don’t want to get up every Sunday and go to church. It’s one of your two days to sleep. So, having the opportunity to do something during the week is always great.”
Get-togethers always center around food, fellowship and communion.
The Rev. Kristofer Roof: “Acts 2: 42 says that, ‘They devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.’ So, it’s really important for us to eat at every one of our house group meetings. It’s important that we pray for one another. It’s important that we take communion as often as possible.”
(Communion service) “Body of Christ broken for you. Blood of Christ shed for you.”
Community service is also a focus of every gathering. Projects have included raising money for clean water in Haiti, visiting firefighters and first responders, making blankets for hospice patients, and hosting a blessing of the animals.
L.J. Perry, Peace Tree United Methodist Church: “Tonight, for example, we’re baking cookies for the prison ministry to help lift the spirits of people who are incarcerated and their families. Peace Tree is trying hard to be part of the community and I really love that.”
The Rev. Kristofer Roof: “It’s one step at a time. It’s one house at a time. But really, it’s one disciple at a time and I think we’re finding people who felt lost, and they have a place here.”
(Group makes cookies) “If you do it out of order, then it’s going to taste weird and probably be flat and stick to the tray and not be good.”
Jordan Thomas: “It’s alright if the cookies don’t turn out guys. We’re just here for fellowship.”
See where Peace Tree United Methodist is meeting this week.
Learn more about Rev. Kristofer Roof and the mission, vision and values of Peace Tree.
This video was first posted on July 29, 2016.