Dwell Community Church (Xenos Christian Fellowship)

A dynamic Christian community known for its unique approach to fellowship and worship.

Dwell Community Church, previously known as Xenos Christian Fellowship, is a non-traditional, non-denominational Christian church based in Columbus, Ohio. Established by a group of Ohio State University students in the 1970s, the church emphasizes home-based gatherings over traditional church services, fostering an environment that encourages personal relationships and community building. The church, which changed its name to Dwell Community Church in 2020, aims to connect biblical truths to modern life within a real community setting, promoting an engaged and active approach to faith.

Dwell Community Church differentiates itself from traditional Christian denominations through its focus on home churches, small groups of 15 to 60 members that meet in personal residences rather than a central church building. These groups are central to the church’s worship and fellowship, creating a more intimate and personal religious experience. Additionally, Dwell organizes larger weekly multi-house church gatherings called central teachings, which complement the more intimate home church meetings.

The church also runs a variety of ministries aimed at different segments of the community, including student ministries, adult ministries, and support ministries offering services such as pastoral counseling and community outreach programs like free clinics. Dwell has been recognized for its charitable work, notably with its Urban Concern initiative, a Christian inner-city charity that works alongside Columbus city government and business leaders to support the underprivileged in the area. Furthermore, Dwell operates several educational institutions, including private schools and a high school, emphasizing career, trade, and life readiness.

Despite its contributions to the community and innovative approach to worship, Dwell Community Church has faced criticism and allegations of religious abuse. Critics claim that the church’s practices, including behavioral control, emotional abuse, and exploitation, constitute religious abuse. Named and anonymous ex-members have shared allegations of controlling and cult-like behavior, including over 150 testimonials of abuse. These allegations span a wide range of issues, including overcrowded and unhygienic living conditions in church-organized shared living “ministry houses,” lack of privacy, intimidation, financial abuse, gay conversion practices, and shunning of members and ex-members who leave or are removed from the church.

Dwell has denied allegations of religious abuse, attributing claims by former members to miscommunication or interpersonal conflict. The church’s leadership has defended its practices, stating that they are based on traditional interpretations of Christianity and denying that they constitute toxic or abusive behavior. However, the church’s accountability practices, which can lead to members being removed or shunned for not adhering to what the church deems as biblical teachings, have been criticized for isolating individuals from their community and fostering an environment that some describe as cult-like.

In response to these criticisms, Dwell Community Church continues to assert its commitment to fostering a supportive and spiritually enriching environment for its members, emphasizing its dedication to biblical teachings and community building. The church’s leadership and members often view allegations of abuse as misunderstandings or misrepresentations of their faith practices, maintaining that their approach to Christianity is grounded in scripture and aimed at creating a closer relationship with God​​​​​​.

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