Pastor wants a network of ‘house churches’

Published 10:58 am Saturday, September 18, 2010

ZUNI—In Christianity’s early years, before the prevalence of established churches, small groups of believers met in household groups to study the Word.

Now there’s a movement among some Christians to revert back to the early days of worship, said Charles Chappell, pastor and founder of Zuni-based J.O.Y. Fellowship. The letters J.O.Y. stand for Jesus, others and you.

“The Book of Acts in the New Testament is the history of the creation of and development of the first century of Christianity,” he said. “And for the first 300 years of Christianity, it met in house churches. There were no buildings built.”

After receiving an e-mail newsletter last year, Chappell, his wife and some of their friends intensely researched the concept before forming J.O.Y. Fellowship in December.

“We’re trying to reproduce house churches as they were done in the first century AD as recorded in the book of Acts,” he said.

Chappell, an ordained minister for 43 years, said the church focuses on “pre-Christians,” or those that haven’t been exposed to the Word and those that have been disillusioned or hurt by someone in the traditional church setting.

He said house church services are informal and can take place any day of the week at any time.

“As a rule, there will be communion, there will be a time of praise and worship, a time of prayer and a time of bible study, but not always in that order,” he said.

Chappell also said he doesn’t preach, but rather facilitates a bible study.

Institutional churches often have a lot of “bureaucracy,” Chappell said, but that’s not the case with house churches.

“The house church is a very intimate close-knit fellowship relationship,” he said. “Most likely we’ll never grow larger than 15 to 18 people and at that point when it does, a part of that church will move into creating a new house church.”

For more information, contact Chappell at