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Blessings abound as Norfolk house church thrives

Liberty is a house church which meets in Frettenham, north of Norwich, every Sunday. They are seeing people encouraged and blessed every week, as the church continues to thrive. Founder Barrie Lawrence explains.

“Hey, you don’t have a collection in this church?” said Mike.

“Whose gone home wearing my shoes?” bewailed John.

“Wow – was that really God speaking through me?” exclaimed Karen.


I’ve changed the names, but the comments above are real. Let’s briefly explore the contexts of these questions. A church not after your money, but where your shoes might get nicked? And God really – really? – speaking through ordinary, unordained people?


It all started with a dream. A vivid dream, in the early hours of a night in September 2008, caused me to sit up in bed and whisper to my wife, “Are you awake?”

“Well, I am now,” she groaned, and I told her of my riveting dream. It was of the cave of Adullam, as described in 1 Samuel 22, where an eclectic bunch of refugees gathered to David, and became a mighty army and viable community. It gripped us. What was God saying? We sat up in bed together, prayed for an hour, and went back to sleep around 4am.


We had been members of our church for 25 years, loved it, had family there, and did not want to leave. We tried to continue, but a few years later we found ourselves, just Wendy and I, sitting in our front room, strumming, singing, having communion, and praying, “Lord, what is this new thing you’re calling us to do?”


Then others started joining us. They were usually those who had recently left their church, or were ‘floating Christians’. Those who were already members of churches were encouraged to stay where they were. Being in a small village, just north of Norwich, limited the number coming to us. So did the size of our sitting room. We called ourselves LIBERTY! Not Liberty Church, but a church called LIBERTY!


Vision is important, if not crucial. We try to avoid routine, and be real about allowing the Holy Spirit to lead us, without playing ‘let’s pretend’. Life is too short, and Jesus is too important. Part of our ethos is to encourage people to identify the gifting God has given them, and we make space for them to use it. Likewise with the call of God on people’s lives. People are quietly encouraged to launch out, but there is no pressure to. It’s ok to make mistakes, but we are accountable to one another.


Like the church described in the New Testament, we expect the Lord to make his presence known amongst us. People wanting to preach and teach are told to keep it short until they are recognised as being gifted. Those feeling called to heal the sick, prophesy, speak in tongues, work miracles, etc are told to ‘go for it’. But we emphasise accountability to one another. We have successes, failures, and mistakes. We love, we encourage, we praise loudly, we worship with awe, we forgive, we restore, we have fun, we sometimes eat together, we laugh together, and we are friends. Through active, Biblical participation, we grow and mature spiritually.


A few hundred people have passed through our sitting room during the last decade or so. The most we have gathered in it is 29, though around twice that when hiring a hall for outreach. People come and people go. Some stay. A committed core slowly builds up. We are currently between 12 and 25 on a Sunday morning.


We don’t have the problems (or security) of tradition and rigidity. Our problems concern the person wanting to be a superstar, or thinking we are a discussion group, or refusing accountability. House churches can be too independent, or exclusive, so we fellowship with Christians from many other churches, and every month or so have an outside speaker.


Mike was surprised that there are no collections? There are no buildings to maintain, or ‘ministers’ requiring salaries. The apostle Paul received financial gifts from churches, and also worked for pay as a tentmaker. We have occasional offerings for our occasional visiting speakers. Likewise if we hire a hall. Otherwise, people are seriously encouraged to be outrageously generous in giving to missions, responsible charities, and the poor. The Spirit will lead them, and show them where. We don’t do that for them!


Getting your shoes nicked? We are informal, and most people take their shoes off and leave them in the hall while meeting here. People are chatting and laughing when they arrive, and when they go, and just once, someone put the wrong shoes (nice ones) on, and left theirs (tatty ones) behind. A genuine mistake. They swapped back a week later. No hard feelings. Forgiveness. Laughter.


God speaking through Karen? It was her first time with us. She loved the Lord, worshipped, and observed. She caught the vision. She quietly said to us, “There are words in my mind, or heart, which I think are from the Lord. Can I share them?” Of course. They were short, and described 3 challenging situations. 3 people said that through Karen, the Lord was speaking into their respective circumstances. We assumed the Lord therefore wanted to resolve their problems, and we gathered round each and prayed for them. A week later there were some encouraging testimonies concerning needs that had been met.


We see people truly healed. Not always. There have been other miracles. Not too often. We have received great teaching. Frequently. We see people encouraged and blessed. Every week.


We want to grow in numbers, and the power of God and in influence – yesterday! And so we pray for people, younger people, those with leadership ability, those wanting to join in the adventure of seeing the Spirit move in power; humble, accountable people. We pray the Lord will bring them in, and get them using their gifting and moving in the call on their lives. And our overall prayer – ‘May your kingdom come, and may your will be done, here, in Norfolk, in our world, in our generation, as it is in heaven. Amen’.

Barrie Lawrence is also Norwich branch president of Full Gospel Businessmen, and stepped down as the National Chairman of FGB UK & Ireland last year after three “great” years in the role. He has been an FGB member for over 40 years, president of Norwich FGB for over 10 years, and regional director for East Anglia for 7 years. Barrie is also an author, with seven published books. Big Blue Sky – A Celebration of Norfolk was published last year. 


Liberty meets at Barrie’s house in Frettenham every Sunday morning, and there are also Bible studies and prayer meetings in Frettenham and Catfield, mainly, and occasionally in Rackheath and Freethorpe.


If anyone wishes to join them, please phone Barrie on  07786 381344.

Read our previous story about Liberty here.


The photo above was taken at a gathering on Barrie’s patio, and is courtesy of Barrie Lawrence.



Do you have a news story or forthcoming event relating to Christians or a church in North Norfolk?  

If so, e-mail [email protected] with details and, if possible a suitable picture. 

Tony Rothe, 04/08/2023

Read the full article here

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