Listen and Subscribe
How do you explain Dinner Church? More importantly, how do you explain it to key volunteers who have invested time and energy into the kinds of services and programs a Dinner Church may not ever develop?
Heather Evans, co-host of the Dinner Church podcast, has started numerous dinner churches in a variety of communities in South Florida. In this conversation, you’ll learn about her approach to forming teams and helping them explore what Dinner Church should look like in their context.
If you are a church leader who want to explore Dinner Church with your congregation this episode is the perfect place to start.
For nearly a decade, Heather Evans has pioneered dinner churches in Southwest Florida. In this enlightening discussion, she shares her journey into dinner church leadership, including pivotal disruptions, lessons learned, and how God formed community amidst disasters.
A Transformational Journey
Though trained as a children’s minister, Heather experienced a profound season of personal spiritual growth in 2015. As she describes, “I came to realize that I had spent all of my adult life teaching children that they were children of God and persons of worth, and yet I had not accepted that for myself.” This transformation equipped her for more intimate, adult ministry.
Launching the First Dinner Church
After learning about dinner church in 2016, Heather felt convicted to start one in Suncoast, a struggling trailer park. Despite some initial confusion about what dinner church entailed, her team focused first on building relationships and trust. Soon, they saw barriers dissolve as they prayed, shared meals, and stayed rooted in Jesus’ stories.
In 2020, COVID-19 forced Eat Pray Love dinner churches to pivot to takeout meals. However, they got creative with Zoom gatherings to maintain fellowship. Later, Hurricane Ian devastated many dinner church neighborhoods. But Heather shared how they leveraged disaster relief to form deeper bonds with residents, even launching a new outdoor dinner church amidst the rubble.
“God will take a mess and turn it into something beautiful if you let it.”Heather Evans
Pastoring through Presence
A key lesson was being the church who sticks around, not just providing emergency handouts but listening and praying. Despite the challenges, dinner church remained a unifying refuge.
Guidance for Dinner Church Leaders
Heather offers several pieces of advice:
- Pray and listen for the Spirit’s guidance more than relying on strategies
- Remember your role as pastor, shepherd, and friend
- Don’t force steps; trust God’s timing in people’s spiritual journeys
- Leverage children’s natural energy to create lively intergenerational church
“Be a pastor and listen to the Holy Spirit.”Heather Evans
In the end, Heather’s wisdom equips dinner church leaders to persevere through inevitable disruptions by staying rooted in love and Christ-centered community.
- When have you experienced a pivotal season of spiritual transformation? What equipped you for new ministry endeavors?
- How can dinner church foster generational and socioeconomic unity in your context?
- In what practical ways can your church extend presence and care beyond emergency relief in crises?
- How can you discern when to innovate vs. when to wait on the Spirit’s timing in dinner church?
- What spoke to you most from Heather’s guidance for dinner church leaders? How can you apply this?