Lutz Family's Home is Their Congregation's Sanctuary
The Bergerons founded a home church about a year ago, and quickly found a following.
It was a typical Friday evening for the Bergeron family. Dinner on the stove, kids playing in the backyard— and a five-piece band set up in the living room, where about 60 people would soon settle in for church.
Elizabeth and Cory Bergeron of Lutz started their home church about a year ago. Along with Elizabeth Bergeron's band, Drinking Band with a Worship Problem, the family of 6—their children range from 8 to 16—invites the community to join them for dinner, a glass of wine or a beer or two, and an evening filled with music and lessons delivered in the casual comfort of their living room.
All that's asked is that you come with empty hands and an empty belly. The Bergerons’ home church does not accept tithing—if you want to give money, go buy a bicycle for a child in need, or a help a family in need with their groceries, Elizabeth Bergeron said.
The weekly services draw people of all ages from all over the Bay area, some who attend weekly, others only make it every few months. No matter. There's no pressure, no expectations, and no judgement.
If you only come for the dinner and the fellowship and leave, that's OK, Cory Bergeron said.
"We don’t want you to do any part you don’t have a hunger for,” Elizabeth Bergeron said.
If you stay, expect a lot of music and a laid-back approach to worship.
"We're just lovin' on people, and lovin' on Jesus," Elizabeth Bergeron said.
“A lot of people are afraid of religion because of the formality of the church,” home churchgoer Leigh Ann Van Hove said. “Here you don’t have to fit a mold. You’re accepted and you can just absorb the message.”
Van Hove travels from her South Tampa home to attend services at the Bergerons’ home as often as possible, she said.
This is “the new normal,” Elizabeth Bergeron said. “It’s like Jesus did it. We’re just going out and getting people excited about God.”
You don’t have to be ordained to share the message, “the truth is simple to talk about,” she said.
And with the home church, there will never be any type of institutional control. “We’re doing what comes naturally, not what we’re told is supposed to happen,” she said.
In a traditional church setting, with hundreds—or thousands— of members, you may become anonymous, Elizabeth Bergeron said. You can’t realistically keep up with more than 60 or so people in your community. With a home church, you get to know everyone, and you know this group is going to be there for you no matter what happens, she said.
“Loving people the way Jesus loved people around him, that’s when we find peace and comfort,” Elizabeth Bergeron said.
Interested in attending? Email Elizabeth Bergeron at email@example.com.
What's an evening at home church like? Read more.