Finding Jesus at Dinner Church
Anjalie* stood outside the door to Leah’s home. She could hear the sounds of people chatting and dishes clattering from inside. Her heart was pounding, and she wondered whether she should just go home—but something told her she needed to be there. She took a deep breath and knocked.
Leah De Vos, a mission network developer with Resonate Global Mission, welcomes up to 16 international students into her home in Thorold, Ont., every Friday for Dinner Church. She had invited Anjalie a few weeks earlier.
Dinner Church isn’t a new concept. Inspired by the role that eating together played in Jesus’ ministry and in the early church described in Acts, hundreds of dinner churches have started up in many places throughout the world, following examples of the Dinner Church Collective.
Dinner Church is an opportunity to reach out and connect with people who might not be comfortable in a traditional church setting but who are hungry for community and interested in learning more about Jesus. Support from ministry shares has helped make it possible for Resonate and De Vos to start Dinner Church in her community. She specifically welcomes international students from nearby Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont.
“People crave community, but there are people in our societies who don’t know how to get into that community,” said De Vos. “Dinner Church provides an opportunity to reach people who are ready to be reached. These are people who know they need Jesus.”
That’s why De Vos invited Anjalie to Dinner Church.
Anjalie wasn’t a Christian—she comes from India and grew up practicing Hinduism—but she was lonely at the university. She was struggling with depression and didn’t feel like she had anyone who really knew her or cared for her. She was looking for hope and community, and De Vos saw that.
“We eat, play games, and do devotions together,” De Vos shared with Anjalie. “I’m a Christian, so we spend some time reading the Bible.”
Anjalie said she was nervous but “felt a pull” to go to Dinner Church. It took her a few weeks to work up the courage to give it a try. And while it was awkward at first, she said, it didn’t take her long to feel comfortable. De Vos and other students warmly welcomed her.
“She felt a sense that everybody genuinely wanted to get to know her,” said De Vos.
And when it came time for devotions that night, De Vos felt compelled to share part of her testimony.
“I shared my heart, and [Anjalie] said that because of that, she felt she could share her own kind of broken story. She was like, ‘Wow, this is a safe place,’” said De Vos.
After that first Friday evening, Anjalie came to Dinner Church every week. She became more and more interested in the gospel. Dinner Church is not meant to be a replacement for a traditional church; instead, it’s a first step. Dinner Church turned into Bible study; Bible study turned into attending worship services at a church; and then one day Anjalie decided to give her life to Jesus. And a short while ago she was baptized.
As a Resonate ministry partner, De Vos not only hosts her own Dinner Church but is working with Classis Niagara to start more dinner churches in Ontario by equipping individuals through an internship program. Support from ministry shares helps make this work possible.
“It’s been amazing to see how God is working,” said De Vos. “When you take people out of that traditional church setting, all they really see is Christ. They see servanthood, and they see community.”
This fall, CRC News is sharing stories that demonstrate the impact of ministry shares. To learn more, visit crcna.org/ministryshares or invite Jeff Bolt (U.S.) or Roshani Morton (Canada) to speak to your council, congregational meeting, or classis.
*Name changed to protect privacy