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Dinner Church is a simple, relaxed approach to starting new faith communities. But like many new faith communities, it may draw young families and an overwhelming number of kids.
What does it mean to embrace the children in our midst? And how can Dinner Church be a discipling experience for all ages?
In this episode, Heather Evans is joined by Amy McGlynn, a part of her own Dinner Church team member who focuses on kids. You’ll hear about their challenges and what they’ve seen God do in and through their church’s kids. Amy even gets into nitty-gritty details like making a budget!
Amy McGlynn is the Director of Care Ministries at Grace Church in Cape Coral, Florida. For six years Amy was a part of the Eat Pray Love Dinner Church team and handled many of the logistics surrounding both children and food. Amy shares a variety of options for how to incorporate children into the dinner church environment. She also gives us some of the nitty gritty around budgeting, planning, shopping and preparing the meal itself.
You can get to know the Dinner Church Collective at dinnerchurch.com and join us live in person for the inaugural Dinner Church Summit, November 9th-11th in Orlando, Fl. Details at dinnerchurch.com/summit.
After nearly a decade pioneering dinner churches, Amy McGlynn offers profound logistical insights and inspiring stories of transformation. From budgeting to incorporating children, her wisdom provides an invaluable “how-to” guide for bringing dinner church to life. Above all, McGlynn emphasizes flexibly discerning your context, listening to community needs, and building a loving family around the table.
Stepping Out in Faith, Seeing God Move
Though initially skeptical, McGlynn felt drawn to the dinner church vision of reaching her struggling neighborhood. Despite lacking a clear plan, she watched in awe as relationships blossomed and residents soon eagerly participated in Christmas services. As McGlynn notes, consistently “consulting God and listening to the Holy Spirit” bears unexpected fruit.
Creative Approaches to Incorporating Children
From separate children’s ministry to a “VIP section” for kids, McGlynn experimented with different models. She found fully integrating families most impactful, as children arrived with “a sense of pride” to belong at the table. Cross-generational bonds blossomed over meals.
The Art and Heart Behind the Meal
On logistics, McGlynn suggests:
- Budgeting approximately $200 weekly for 75 people
- Ordering in bulk from Sam’s Club/Walmart for efficiency
- Planning a month’s balanced menus ahead, with occasional “treats”
- Serving generous portions and take-home boxes without stigma
Yet the meal preparation and serving always aimed for “abundance” and an experience of “God’s love,” not leftovers.
Stories of Transformation
McGlynn movingly recalls James, initially a grumpy regular visitor transformed through the community’s love into a servant-hearted leader. His story displays dinner church’s power for life change through relationship.
For those considering dinner church, McGlynn advises:
- Listen deeply to community needs
- Focus first on loving people, then organic spiritual growth
- Pray constantly for guidance
- Build a solid team to share the load
With flexibility, prayer, and persevering love, dinner church can meet tangible needs while fostering belonging in Christ.
- What stood out to you most from McGlynn’s dinner church stories and advice?
- How can you incorporate both logistical excellence and abundant love into serving your community?
- What creative approaches could you take to integrating children and families in your context?
- How can your team lovingly persevere in serving, even amid skeptical initial responses?
- Who in your community needs generous welcome and a place to belong? How can dinner church meet this need?