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Any congregation can start a Dinner Church, but what can a whole network of Churches do? Al and Carl are on staff with the Ohio Ministry Network, a group of churches with a passion for multiplication and church planting. In this episode, they’ll share how they partnered with Fresh Expressions North America to launch more than 20 dinner churches in one year.
You’ll hear about the thinking behind this initiative, how they selected and resourced particular congregations, and the fruit that has come from this work.
Al Yanno has been the Director of the Ohio Church Multiplication Network (OCMN) since 2018. OCMN’s mission is to be a catalyst to a culture of church multiplication throughout Ohio and beyond. Al & his wife, Paris, have also served for 26 years as the Executive Directors of Heart Reach Ministries, a faith-based nonprofit working with inner city youth and their families. The Yannos have also planted 2 churches. The Yanno’s have 6 kids (3 who have adopted them) and presently 2 grandkids.
Carl Bauchspiess has been serving in active ministry since he was credentialed with the Assemblies of God in 1995, including serving inner city churches as well as a very rural church in Wisconsin. He has been a dinner church pastor since 2018 and currently serves as the Dinner Church Director for the Ohio Assemblies of God Network. He is married with 6 kids and 15 ½ grandchildren.
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.
Any congregation can start a Dinner Church, but what can a whole network of churches do together? Al Yano and Carl Bauchspiess, staff members with the Ohio Ministry Network, share how they partnered with Fresh Expressions to launch over 20 dinner churches across Ohio in just one year.
The Hunger for New Models
The Ohio Ministry Network oversees 300 Assemblies of God churches across Ohio with a passion for multiplying new congregations. They set an audacious goal to plant 1000 new churches over the next decade. Al Yano, Director of the Ohio Church Multiplication Network, knew they needed creative new models to reach diverse communities. “We made this shift into thinking, when we plant churches, what we’re really doing is planting the gospel,” he shares.
“Dinner Church intrigued me as a fresh expression of church perfect for establishing gospel presence in unreached places. It involves my favorite things – food, Jesus, and people.”Al Yano
An Initiative is Born
Al and Carl brought in Verlon Fosner, Director of the Dinner Church Collective, to cast vision to their state network. They resonated with the possibilities and agreed to an initiative training and resourcing churches to launch dinner churches. The network covered half the training cost and gave $6000 grants to jumpstart new dinner churches focused on making disciples and long-term sustainability. Their initial goal was 20 in the first year. Carl came on staff to coach churches through the Dinner Church process. He also casts vision to new leaders since shifting mindsets is their biggest challenge.
“I look in people’s eyes as Verlon’s talking, and some are glazed over because they just can’t picture church any other way,” Al observes.
In the first year, they officially logged 12 new dinner churches, though the number launched was likely closer to 20. The growth continued their second year with plans to start cohorts for ongoing training. These Dinner Churches incarnate the gospel in diverse communities from urban neighborhoods to rural towns. One meets under a bridge, baptizing people and helping them transition into housing. Another saw a Jewish family come to faith in their Messiah.
“Both Carl and I are energized by leaders rising up in this movement.”Al Yanno
Carl shares about Gomer, Ohio (pop. 217) where two women started a Dinner Church that now draws over 25 weekly. “That officially makes us a mega church!” Carl jokes.
The network aims to have at least one Dinner Church in every Ohio county. Their long-term goal is to see every Assembly of God church start a Dinner Church in a new community. Carl explains this rapid multiplication requires seeing Dinner Church as real church, not just an outreach. The key is fulfilling the biblical criteria of worship, community, and mission.
“The work isn’t done until every one of those people get a chance to hear about Jesus.”Carl Bauchspiess
Above all, Dinner Church is about saturating communities with the gospel until every person has a chance to respond.
- How could your church multiply impact through starting Dinner Churches in new places?
- What unreached groups or communities could a Dinner Church engage in your city?
- How does seeing church planting as “planting the gospel” challenge your assumptions?
- Who are 1-2 people you could envision starting a Dinner Church with?
- What fears hold your church back from starting new contextual expressions of church?
- How can we shift towards an “ecclesiastical minimum” view of church?
- What could a network of churches in your region accomplish together?