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Episode Shownotes

Host JD Larson returns with his wife ChristianAnn to tell their own story. You’ll hear how a COVID-era shift to Dinner Church allowed them to reimagine their Church Plant and how it has transformed their ministry and family.

Church planters JD and ChristianAnn made a decision to transform North City Church from a more traditional church to a table centric gathering of people who are in all different stages of spiritual life.  Together they help us understand how this move has changed the church as a whole, has brought about hear change in themselves, and given vision for other spaces where people can gather for discipleship and more.

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.

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Interview Summary

When COVID disrupted their young church plant, JD and ChristianAnn Larson saw an opportunity for total reinvention. Their pivot to becoming a dinner church brought surprising fruit, from reaching a diversity of “neighbors” to providing a home for disillusioned Christians.

JD and ChristianAnn planted North City Church in Minneapolis several years ago. Though they felt drawn to gathering around tables, they initially followed a more traditional church model.

The pandemic forced an abrupt halt, leaving them depleted. Their leadership team sensed God urging one more bold move: fully embracing a dinner church approach.

From Control to Holy Chaos

For JD, this table-based model required “giving up control as a leader.” Dinner church involves embracing unpredictability as guests shape the experience.

“It’s beautiful chaos in some sense – you have to be ready to enter the unpredictable and relinquish control.”

JD Larson

Restoring the Weary

JD sees dinner church uniquely ministering to disillusioned Christians, not just non-churchgoers.

He explains, “God has used this model to restore and create space for healing from church hurt.”

A Home For All

At dinner church, JD says, “Literally half the people leave the room” when children go to programming. This shift to focused discussion allows for deeper sharing.

In the summer they meet in a park, drawing diverse neighbors. Year-round their core group is more homogenous, yet committed to hospitality.

ChristianAnn shares, “I’ve talked with people I’d never have met at church because it’s an open table.”

Transforming Neighborly Love

ChristianAnn notes dinner church’s impact on how they relate to their actual neighbors. Faith becomes hands-on local care.

In her words, “It’s a turn towards a place…to be rooted and mindful of your neighbor and to love them.”

JD and ChristianAnn demonstrate how dinner church can reinvigorate both established churches and plants. When we gather in homes to break bread with strangers and loved ones alike, God transforms hearts. What might God do through opening your tables to all?

Reflection Questions

  1. What might change by fully embracing table fellowship in your church?
  2. How could a dinner church approach help heal those disillusioned by regular church experiences?
  3. Who are the “neighbors” God is calling you to love right now?
  4. What fears hold you back from giving up control in ministry?
  5. How can your church become more oriented outward to its local community?
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