A study by the Barna Group estimates that 6 million to 12 million Americans attend house churches with some regularity and the Pew Forum found last year that 9 percent of American Protestants only attended home services. The AP reports on the phenomenon.
"The only consistent thing about house church is that each one is different," said Robin Yeldell, who, in 2006, left a traditional church where he was a missions committee chairman.
The gathering at the Yeldell's home is a lively, sometimes chaotic event, with noisy and mostly happy young children flitting about.
After a time of fellowship, everyone gravitates to the kitchen table to observe the Eucharist with prayer, pinched-off pieces of sourdough bread and red wine in plastic cups. There's grape juice for the kids.
The celebration continues with a potluck meal. When they return to the living room, one member picks up a guitar to strum praise-and-worship songs that others softly sing.
Sparked by a previous discussion about whether they should start collecting an offering for the needy, Yeldell shares a Power Point presentation he created about "corporate giving" on his big screen TV.
The majority seems averse to a regular offering, preferring to take up a collection only when a need or charitable cause arises.