Whitney Houston's Funeral At Childhood Church ... by Invite Only

2/14/2012 8:10 AM PST

Whitney Houston's funeral service will take place in the very same New Jersey church where Houston used to sing as a child ... and TMZ has learned there WILL be a guest list. 

The service will take place Saturday at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark ... where Whitney honed her skills singing with her mother Cissy Houston and her cousin Dionne Warwick.

Sources tell TMZ ... the family wants to keep the event super-private ... as in invite only.

We're told the church only seats around 300 people -- it's unclear who will make the cut.