Ever wondered if you could actually know your neighbors? Ever longed for deeper relationships to share your everyday life with? (especially during a pandemic) Ever wondered if there was a way to actually build community in your own neighborhood that could provide this? Ever wished there was a more natural way to introduce someone to Christ than "come to mass with me"?

Either way, you made it to the right place. Maybe you are like us and experiencing a deep longing for community as never before. Maybe you are trying to find a way to answer your call to mission and raise a family in the US. Or maybe you just want to get to know your neighbors.

We started the Family Dinner movement over 10 years ago as an experiment… when times were way simpler! Since then, Family Dinner has proven to be the best way we have found to love God in the week-in-week-out rhythm of life in our modern American culture. We’re not saying it’s for everyone, but it sure has been a piece that is missing in our experience of modern Catholic culture.


What is Family Dinner?
How it Works
How to Get Started
What is Family Dinner?

A low commitment, weekly gathering meant to become part of the fabric of life. In a sense, it's a way for your whole family to mission, as it merges family life, community and worship into routine in a beautifully like Sunday Mass.

How it Works
  1. Everyone Invitedall ages, faith backgrounds, and statuses are invited
  2. Break Breadaround a meal; 100% pot-luck, unchoreographed, no one plans who brings what
  3. In a Homenot a church building or facility; part of normal
  4. Every Weekpart of life’s routine; same place, same time; no real start time or end time; easy to come, easy to miss a week
  5. No Programresist the urge; it is not a program… it is a vehicle to connect weekly and share life
  6. Missionary Hostcommitted to accompany and be accompanied through life by those in the community
How to Get Started

Family Dinner’s are hosted by “Missionary Hosts” along with a core group of “Missionary Co-Hosts”.  Missionary Hosts are families or households who have answered their baptismal call to mission by committing to opening their homes weekly for all. They invest in those relationships by authentically and vulnerably sharing life together.

Click the signup link and fill out the form to get started on the journey of becoming a Missionary host! You will get a PDF launch kit worksheet, along with access to the Missionary Host website. These will give you all the tools and support you need to follow a simple three-step process to launch your Family Dinner in a way that is built to last. 

Get Started Now!

Click the link below to get started on the journey of becoming a Missionary Host and launch your Family Dinner!

Sign Up to Get the Free Launch Kit


COVID-19 Concerns

​COVID-19 Concerns and Family Dinner

You made it to this spot because you are either thinking, “Who would have the audacity to suggest we meet in person during a pandemic!”, or “Oh dear God please help me find a way to build community in a pandemic!”. 

There are significant concerns here. Adore Ministries & Family Dinner want to be above reproach when it comes to responsibly reentering community. This is different for each and every area. We recommend following all county and state guidelines when it comes to gathering.

The choice to have Family Dinner each week is 100% the choice of each Missionary Host and their community in good faith that they are being responsible and adhering to local authorities direction. While Adore Ministries cannot understand each communities unique situation during these unprecedented times, we do provide some tips and guidance that have proved successful in certain communities.


When your area is ready to reopen enough to do something like this, some Family Dinner’s have found it helpful to start back by meeting in the driveway, local park, or just keeping it to the porch or backyard. The 14 day quarantine also makes every other week a good fallback if things start to tighten up again in your area. Note, that since this virus comes in waves, it is helpful to be flexible... open when your area loosens restrictions, close when things tighten up.

As a general rule, we have found it helpful to really define what you mean when you tell people how you are "socially distancing". Those families who have a need to be more cautious have felt much safer coming when we get specific about what restrictions this event will have, or at least feel they can make a more informed decision on whether they participate in a particular gathering.


Below is text for a sample startup communication with some examples of specific guidelines that you may edit for your situation and email out to those you invite:


Hello everyone!


We pray you are all doing well. There is no other time in our lives that we have felt a greater need for community & communion than right now. We have discerned that for our own family, we feel ready to open up Family Dinner for whoever is comfortable to join. We hope to begin ...


We hope this can give each family time to discuss & discern what is best for their own family. Obviously this will look different for each family and we completely understand and respect that discernment. 


Here are some things we have discussed about how to roll out Family Dinner this month with some precautions:


  • We will start with only gathering every other week with the goal to be weekly when possible in our area. This will allow time in between gatherings to monitor any symptoms and gauge how our community & extended counties are managing as things continue to open.


During the Night:


  • Families are welcome to bring their own meal, but this is not a requirement.
  • All shared food will have utensils and we ask that no children (or adults) use their hands to remove food from bowls/serving dishes. Obviously we will all touch the utensils, so please use hand sanitizer or wash your hands prior to serving your food.
  • Plenty of hand sanitizer will be available here.
  • Families are welcome to stay outside the entire time if this helps you feel more comfortable.
  • You may wear a mask if it helps you feel more comfortable. Please understand that our own family will not be wearing masks, but if it will allow your family to come by wearing a mask, then come on over!
  • We will have paper towels in the kitchen & bathrooms for drying hands (instead of cloth towels)
  • We will have plastic cups and a sharpie to write names with, so the cups will not get mixed up. You are of course welcome to bring your own cup as well. 
  • If you see a kiddo place a toy in their mouth or sneeze on a toy during FD, please put it in the basket near the sink labeled “to be sanitized.” If it’s a big item, you can place it in our laundry room or wipe it down with a Clorox wipe for us. (All stuffed animals will try to stay in the drawer. I will tape it shut ;)


Prior to the Night:


  • We are sanitizing our home prior to the start of the Family Dinner.
  • All people considering coming to Family Dinner (and really any function during this time) are asked to self check prior to coming. If you, or anyone in your family is feeling ill, has a fever, cough, or any other sign of illness, please stay home. If you have been in contact with anyone who has been ill, please stay home.


Additional Social Distancing Options


We have the above measures in place in hopes that you will feel more comfortable in coming to join us. Further, we want to try and provide additional options for social distancing at Family Dinner. We have brainstormed some ideas with a few community members below. Please let us know of any additional ideas or feedback you have. We are very open and want to hear from you!


  • We will have at least 2 areas outside for families who would like to social distance and be at a table situated away from others. (One area with a folding table on the side front yard next to the driveway and an additional table on the backyard concrete area). Although it will likely be difficult to keep the children socially distanced, other adults can be aware & especially respectful of keeping distance from any family who sits in one of those areas or a family who chooses to bring their own picnic blanket.
    • To reach the concrete area and avoid walking through people, feel free to come in the double wooden gate leading to the back yard (right side of house). 
    • These families are welcome to bring their own food or eat before coming. 
    • If you plan to need one of the tables we have, please text us to make sure it's available. Of course, you could also bring chairs and/or picnic blankets if the table is occupied. 
    • Families sitting at the non social distanced tables would be... well, not social distanced ;) We ask they all maintain 6 ft away from the social distanced areas.
    • We can have our bathroom in our master bedroom reserved for only social distanced families with easy access from the back patio.
    • We are considering, once it gets cooler, to have a "masked Family Dinner night" every now and then if it appeals to others. 


    Please let us know your thoughts on this. Obviously Family Dinner, by the nature of the event, is not really set up for a pandemic. If your family cannot join us, we completely understand and hope you can find at least one other family you can plan a time to join together with. We truly cannot do this alone!

    Again, we know that this decision is for each family to make on their own based on your own unique circumstances. We miss you all greatly and you all will continue to be in our prayers! We look forward to the day we will all be in communion again! 

Who is Family Dinner for?

Who is Family Dinner for?

Family Dinner allows communities to have a backbone of week in and week out connection within normal life. It helps communities grow in communion. Your community could be your neighborhood, your church, your parish, your apartment complex, you name it. It is really all of the above. Personal invitation is how people find out about it, but all who walk through the door are welcome. All ages, faiths, status, and backgrounds are welcome.

What do I do during the night?

What do I do during the night?

Open your home, and ask for God’s grace and wisdom to welcome all who walk in the door. Remember… relax, enjoy, be yourself. Christ, present in you, and the love between your family and your co-hosts, is the attraction... the real, messy you, not the state of your house or quality of the food, etc. Relax knowing your job is to be present and genuinely curious in the lives of those who come.

Helpful Practices

Helpful Practices

Here is a summary of some of the helpful tips listed throughout this FAQ:

  • Put together a “Family Dinner Bin”... a big plastic tote or tub that has everything you need for Family Dinner setup:

    • Purchase a set of cheap plastic plates, bowls, cups and cheap metal silverware. These are reusable after washing and replaces paper plates so that you do not have a ton of trash every week, but saves your own plates from the inevitable wear and tear.

    • Small whiteboard to set up near where the food is served for welcome notes and announcements.

  • Have a frozen pizza ready to go if it is a light food night.

  • Jot down a "question of the night" on your whiteboard to help get some discussions started".

What if only co-hosts come?

What if only co-hosts come?

Enjoy growing in community! Remember, this is “anti-program”. Success is measured in the quality of community, not the numbers. The vibrancy of the community is what is attractive to others.


Focus on investing in the relationships with the host team. The Holy Spirit will provide the numbers and type of community needed for each season. Trust in Him. It is His ministry after all. Be genuinely curious in learning more about them… ask good questions and listen. Be vulnerable in order to inspire vulnerability. Ask for help and give help.


As the communion among your co-host community grows, so will the attractiveness of your community to any newcomers. Begin to challenge each other in the host team to be bold in inviting others. Anyone you run into that lives within 15 minutes, ask the Holy Spirit… “do you want me to invite them?” If the Holy Spirit is pushing your heat to ask, then your job is just to ask. Leave the result up to the Holy Spirit. If someone seems interested, get their number and remember to text them to remind and reinvite them before the next one comes up.

What if a co-host stops coming?

What if a co-host stops coming?

Sometimes a co-host moves away or is unable to commit to coming to Family Dinner regularly. Remember, the host team is really only needed during the launch phase and the first few months to a year of your Family Dinner, in order to have a consistent core to the community from the start. Therefore, first consider if there is a need to have an official replacement.


After you launch, some new households will start to emerge as regulars that were not on your original host team. These are the obvious candidates for being replacement co-hosts. In our experience, we have not really needed to have an official “co-host” list. It generally grows organically and different households start to become more involved replacing the need for an organized host team. Also, if you are regularly having a comfortable crowd, you may not need to replace them.

If you do feel the need to replace them, and you don’t have any obvious choices, consider asking a family that is already coming somewhat regularly to invest in the mission in a more intentional way by becoming a co-host.

What meal should I make?

What meal should I make?

As the host, we usually make a main dish (something protein / carb heavy), and encourage the co-hosts to do the same as often as possible. This allows for others to have more flexibility with what they bring and still have enough food for the night. In keeping with creating a “soft-landing, low commitment” environment, it is part of the ministry of hospitality to make it easy for others to come when they can only bring a side or drinks or dessert.


It is also a good practice to have a frozen pizza ready to go if there ends up being a light food night. (frozen pizza is a good thing for members to periodically donate to the host for this reason)


That being said, at the “family meeting” with just adults we try to have periodically, we almost always discuss the need for regulars to bring a substantial dish whenever possible.

Can we coordinate meals… please?

Can we coordinate meals... please?

Usually this comes up because a particular Family Dinner is just regularly not getting enough real food to feed people. Don’t worry, it happened to us too. This was the impetus for our community's very first “Family Meeting”! (see “Growing in Community” below for more on that) We called a Family Meeting and encouraged everyone to bring larger, more hearty dishes. We still do have to reencourage people about once a year.


If you are asking because your really love to cook and/ coordinated meals just make your heart warm and fuzzy inside… then you are crazy, but you are not alone! There are a small handful of Family Dinners where the hosts just really love to cook, so they prepare a big meal every week and people come over and sometimes bring dessert or a side. All I can say is that you community is uber blessed!


Additionally, it is fun to have some themed nights every now and then. A staple for us is “Mexican Night” for Cinco de Mayo… and we do coordinate some of the dishes. We’ve also done “Bacon Night” where you have to bring something with bacon in it. If done only a few times a year, it usually ends up getting a big draw for those nights.

How can members support the Missionary Host?

How can members support the Missionary Host?

  • Help during the night:

    • Be conscious and welcoming to newcomers. Bring them into conversations and make introductions.

    • Engage in real conversations. Be genuinely curious about the others at the night and ask questions.

    • Move tripping hazards (i.e. abandoned toys left in direct walkways).

    • Moving discarded dishes to the sink area. Wash a few dishes at the end of the night. (don’t obsess about this. The focus and priority is still the interpersonal connections between people)

    • An extra mile: All members can help clean up before they leave. They can wash some dishes and/or put away some toys prior to leaving. This helps the Hosts to not become overwhelmed each week by prepping the house prior to each dinner and cleaning everything after each one as well.

  • Donate supplies. Ask specifically what the Host’s most need, and be conscious of the type of brand they may prefer. Some items we find helpful are:

    • Paper towels

    • Paper plates (kids sized & dessert sized especially)

    • Plastic utensils

    • Toilet paper

    • Dish washer detergent

    • Hand soap

    • Frozen pizza

  • A really nice gift idea every now and then to give for the Missionary Host:  Get the Family Dinner community to pull together to pay for a deep cleaning or carpet cleaning of the host house.

Making my home a Safe Environment

Making my home a Safe Environment

Safe Environment Training

Adore Ministries asks that all Missionary Hosts and Co-Hosts go through Safe Environment training prior to the start of your Family Dinner. If you have done any volunteer work with a Catholic church in the past few years, you most likely already have completed a training like this. Any of the training classes that diocese, churches, or schools require are sufficient. Many of these classes are online now, and there are usually classes running year round. Please check your local diocese website or ask a minister at your church what training they use and how you can sign up. Many Catholic diocese use CMG Connect. Click to visit their website to see if your diocese is included.



You understand your home layout better than anyone, so you’ll need to figure out what works best for your situation. The major key is simply being aware of where people are throughout the night. Situations to be especially sensitive to are:

        • One adult alone with a kid who is not their own
        • Older kids alone together
        • Older kid alone with a younger child

Think through reasonable, easily communicated and understood rules you might put in place that help deter the situations above. Here are some general guidelines that have helped us:

        • Establish general rules that kids and people need to stay in public areas.
          • You may want to make a rule that upstairs and/or all bedrooms are off limits. Or that doors need to stay all the way open.
        • Clearly make known which bathrooms are available and which are not.
        • Regularly check on any secluded areas outside or in the house to see if kids are there. No need to keep them away from there unless it becomes an issue, just knowing that there is a regular checks happening is a major deterrent to any inappropriate behavior.

Growing in Communion: So we’ve been gathering for awhile now… how do we go deeper?

Growing in Communion: So we've been gathering for awhile now... how do we go deeper?

We had the same experience. About 2-3 years into our Family Dinner, it was great to see and share life with people weekly, but the conversation and connection we were able to have during the nights slowly diminished as more and more of us had kids and those kids started moving into the toddler stage and required more supervision. We needed deeper sharing and connection, and we also desired more formation together. Below are some ideas that have worked for us in an enduring way:


Family Meetings

First off, we needed a way for our community to be intentional about adapting as we grew in size and state in life. We also needed a way to address any challenges that came up. Family Dinner Family Meetings became a perfect avenue for that. We have found they work best when they are very periodic… but at least yearly. We do adults only, on a different night and usually a different house than Family Dinner. They can also be called by anyone in Family Dinner, and usually it actually works best if one of the Co-Host’s initiate and coordinate it.

Discuss things like:

        • How is Family Dinner going? Is it meeting people’s needs?
        • What is going well?
        • What needs improvement?
        • How can we support each other better? 
        • How do we discipline each others kids?

Have a discussion agenda prepared ahead of time.

Co-host start Men’s & Womens groups

Family Dinner is a safe landing space for people to gather. After awhile, our community desired to grow more in intimacy and vulnerability. For us, Family Dinner is the entry into the community, and the men's and women's groups are the heart of the community. They are where we share deeply and move into the next level of connection. For our community, we need both: to touch base weekly and to go deeper once a month (at least).


This is what has worked for our community:

Once a month the men meet on a separate night from Family Dinner - Kings Men has a great format
Once a month the women meet on a separate night from Family Dinner - Blessed is She and Endow both have  great formats and materials.


We chose the same night of the week for these meetings. So again, it became part of the routine for Tuesdays (or whatever night you choose) to be the men’s & women’s studies twice a month. Mom stays with the kids one week, Dad on the other. These are optional, and so draw a smaller, more intimate group. We run them similar to Family Dinner: all-are-welcome, come-when-you-can. We let the intrinsic value of the meeting dictate loyalty to it rather than forcing people to commit. However, we do regularly talk about it and invite newcomers to it during the Family Dinner night.

Men’s & Women’s Socials

We also started meeting during the off weeks for men’s and women’s social gatherings: 1st & 3rd weeks would be Women’s group and social respectively. 2nd & 4th weeks would be men’s group and social respectively.


The women usually just gathered with desserts & drinks to chat. The men would plan poker nights, or other game nights, or meet at Top Golf, axe throwing (not kidding), racing, you name it.


Couples Groups

A few years after the men’s & women’s groups started, it became clear that, as couples, we really need to lean into a committed group of other couples in order for support and help in navigating the hardest years of marriage… the child-raising years.


We found Teams of Our Lady worked best with our group. But Domestic Church has also worked well for many communities. They are very similar. They involve small groups of 5-8 couples that commit to meet monthly together, and renew their commitment annually. They are for married couples only, and the groups stay the same, so it allows for a very deep trust and sharing to develop. We have found this type of group to be an amazing gift of mutual accompaniment  in our practical and spiritual journey as a sacramentally married couple in today’s world.


Teams of Our Lady

Domestic Church