Dinner Church from the Beginning


Church was not always done the way we do it. There was a time when Christians gathered around tables, including strangers and the poor, ate together, and talked about Jesus. This form of the church mainly occurred during the first three hundred years of Christianity and was highly influential in bringing lost people to Jesus. While today’s church is significant to Christ-followers, it fails to help our lost neighbors find their way to the Savior. That is no small concern for Jesus’ churches, which are called to be in the rescue business. 

Dinner Church doesn’t have to be an expansion of a church. It can be the start. Dinner Church is the foundation of the new 80-20 church in O’Fallon that Rev. Amie Littrell is starting. The church spent September through December with the launch community learning about the theological underpinnings of a dinner church and retraining themselves on the ecology of a church. 

They began meeting every other week at a restaurant, but the restaurant closed. They then started meeting at Cornerstone UMC on Sunday evenings. About 75% of the people arrive one to two hours early and go to work preparing the meal. 

“People don’t feel a part of something until they contribute," Littrell said. "They want to help because they are getting a meal.” 

Dinner Church is the worship experience of 80-20. It’s not a second worship service or a Wednesday night meal with Bible study – it is the worship experience. There is no theater-style Sunday morning worship. 

The vision of 80-20 is for 80% of their offering to restore the community and 20% to go toward operating expenses. They have signed a lease on a commercial space that they will operate as a co-working space, where any business can subscribe to have workspace there Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Initially, they plan on subscription income paying half the rent. Still, they hope to cover all the rent by subscriptions when the model is fully developed. 

Although Dinner Church is the primary launch, there is more to it than that service. The church has also held Bible studies in the park in good weather and the mall in not-as-good weather. 

The first Dinner Church meeting was on July 31. They initially met monthly and are now meeting weekly.