Open Table is a deeply relational model of ministry aimed at supporting people as they strive to address the effects and causes of poverty in their own lives. It is a civic engagement model that trains members of faith communities to invest their occupational and life experience, social capital and community networks to help disadvantaged individuals and families develop their own life goals to support their exodus from poverty. The Open Table model successfully builds collaborations of religious, governmental, business, educational, and community organizations to support the efforts of citizens entering into relationship with the poor in our community. The innovative model is transforming the lives of people with little means, and these individuals are, in turn, transforming the people who help them.
Open Table is a ministry owned by local congregations, which license the model with ample training and technical support from Open Table. BHITC is Open Table’s licensed organizational partner for model expansion in Northeast Ohio, supporting congregations and service agencies locally. Open Table is a proven national ministry approach is currently underway in 19 states and across the world.
How does the model work?
Mobilizing the intellectual and social capital of congregation members to help the working poor escape the relentless cycle of poverty, the Open Table model utilizes a group of 6-12 volunteers, called a Table, to engage individuals in an enduring relationship and a network of support for community members in need. Table members make a one-year commitment to act as a team of life specialists, encouragers, and advocates for an individual or family struggling with poverty. The faith-based Open Table Model seeks to move community volunteers from having a transactional relationship with the poor (i.e. giving them things they need but cannot use to transform their life) to a transformational relationship with the poor (i.e. providing them intellectual and social capital to use to create long-term, life-altering changes).
Can my church start Tables?
Yes! Visit www.theopentable.org to learn more, and contact BHITC’s Bryan Karas to begin discussing next steps for your congregation! He can be reached at (216) 281-4673 or firstname.lastname@example.org.