Dinner Church in Your Context

“Dinner Church.”  What is it?  There is a lot of buzz going around about this new—yet ancient–concept.  The buzz started, as many things do, on the US’s two ocean coasts.  Many of you have probably heard about St. Lydia’s in Brooklyn, New York.  There are candles, flowers, music, lots of liturgy (including the Eucharist), and wholesome food cooked by the participants and served homestyle in a reclaimed storefront.   On other end of the country, Verlon Foster started a group of dinner churches that meet in larger halls.  There are praise bands and buffets with copious amounts of food heaped in steam trays.  Joy abounds in both types of dinner churches, but neither would necessarily work in YOUR context.

Today, here in the Ohio, we are hearing about dinner church, brunch church, waffle church, and all sorts of variations.  Sounds like a good idea.  And, it sounds like an easy idea.  After all, many of our churches already have “feeding” ministries.  It’s tempting to think that “we’ll just add a couple of hymns and slap in a Bible reading and some prayers, and we’ve got dinner church.”

Is it really that easy, though?  If you look behind the first layer of the movement, you will find that setting up and running a dinner church takes a lot of intentional discernment and planning.  Who do we think will come?  Are we trying to lure people in as a steppingstone to getting them to bolster our numbers at traditional worship on Sunday mornings, or are we open to the Holy Spirit creating a wholly new thing?  Are we going to use “churchy” language that might create a barrier for those who are unfamiliar with it?  What kind of food will we have, and who will prepare it?  There is a lot to think about and explore.

Join us for this class.  We will frame up some of these questions and possible answers to help you start thinking about whether and how your community of faith can take part in the holy experiment that is dinner church.  WARNING:  We will even be talking about some theology.


Pastor Richard Freudenberger is currently serving in three inner-city churches in Dayton:  Christ Lutheran Church in Old North Dayton, First Lutheran Church of Dayton, and New Hope Lutheran Church in the northwest area of the city.  Pastoring is Richard’s second career.  Five years ago, after practicing law for thirty years in the areas of corporate, commercial, and intellectual property law, he discerned that God had a new plan for him and he entered the ELCA’s program called “Theological Education for Emerging Ministries.”  He pursued his seminary education through the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkley, California while serving in a licensed leadership role at Christ Lutheran under the permission of our Bishop.  He was ordained during the pandemic in July 2020.  Richard has served in many capacities in the church, including bell choir director, worship committee chair, Sunday School teacher, lawn mower, and member of the Southern Ohio Synod’s Council.  He helped found the Dayton Urban Lutheran Allies, and is a member of the synod’s newly formed Cultivate team.  When the synod’s third Collaborative cohort begins in October, he will be accompanying his third church to be part of that program.  Richard is convinced that the Holy Spirit is working new things in our church, and he is looking forward to seeing how we can join Jesus in the restoration of the world in new ways.


Topic: Southern Ohio Synod Vibrant Church Conference: “Dinner Church in Your Context”
Time: Nov 13, 2021 10:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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Nov 13 2021


10:00 am - 6:00 pm