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Open Table

Open Table’s faith-based model draws together the community and relationship life of congregations around the country. It provides technical support, training, structure, and process. Each Table is composed of a group of volunteers that make a year-long commitment to act – through relationship —as a team of life specialists, encouragers, and advocates. Over the course of a year, the Table works together to set goals, foster accountability, and implement a plan to create change.


There are 6-8 members to serve an individual or 9-12 to serve a family. “Positions” around the table vary depending on the needs of Sisters and Brothers.

The Open Table “Mission Team” is responsible for recruiting the table members, overseeing the training process, and making sure the table(s) get “launched.” This commitment is about 5 hours per week until the table starts, then 2 hours a week. Table Members commit to 1 hour per week for the weekly table meetings and an additional 2-4 hours per week for additional work and relationship building with the Brother/Sister outside table meetings for an average of 3-5 hours per week. Tables end after a year, but relationships continue for a lifetime!

Open Table has been recognized as a leading model for successful wraparound partnership between the faith community and local government. The outcomes (as noted later in this document) have been determined by national researchers. Founded by Jon Katov and born out of a church in Phoenix, AZ, Open Table is a discipleship opportunity to put faith into action and build authentic community. It is also endorsed by the US Department of Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration.

Scholarship opportunities are available.

Any mission trip or service project requires funding. Open Table brings churches into a missional way of life by transitioning the church from transactional interactions (shelters, feeding programs, clothing donations) to transformational relationships with Sisters and Brothers experiencing economic and/or relational poverty. Open Table creates sustainable long-term relationships, so funding supports life-long change rather than one-time transactions.

It pays for extensive training of the church’s Open Table “mission team” and 4 weeks of training for Table members through Open Table University (an online Google Classroom platform), membership to Basecamp online project management system for Table member communication, resources, technical and administrative consulting support, quarterly “continuing education” trainings throughout the year a table meets, change-readiness assessment for Sisters and Brothers, outcome measures and reports, etc.

The church pays a $500 annual licensing fee if under a thousand members or a $1000 annual licensing fee if over a thousand members. Additionally, there is a one-time fee of $120 per table member each time a table is formed. The church can pay this fee, or table members can fundraise and/or pay personally (like paying to go on a mission trip).

Through referral partners in your community. Sisters and Brothers complete a change-readiness assessment to determine their level of openness to the Table process. If the score does not indicate the Brother or Sister is “change ready,” then additional supports are recommended and the assessment can be taken again in 6 months.

Tables serve individuals or families in the community who are marginalized. We call these individuals “Brothers and Sisters,” not clients, to reiterate the primary importance of relationship. Many populations can be served, such as homeless, working poor, transitional youth, victims of human trafficking, veterans, immigrants, etc.

Open Table trains congregation members to form communities – called Tables – that transform their vocational and life experiences into tools our marginalized Sisters and Brothers in poverty (economic and/or relational poverty) can use to develop and achieve their life goals. Tables meet weekly for one year.

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A Theory of Change (TOC) defines the fundamental underpinnings of a movement by stating the non-negotiables, without which the goals of the movement will not be achieved. A TOC is important because it serves as a basis for development of standardized measures of fidelity, and most importantly, standardizes a crucial messaging point for Open Table. A TOC helps differentiate Open Table from other poverty interventions and defines implementer expectations for what they can accomplish with the model.

1. Relationship: The relationships between Table members and the Sister/Brother is at the heart of the effectiveness of the model, and the ability of the Sister/Brother to establish long lasting relationships with their Table and with other members of the community.

2. Faith and a Shared Purpose: Through a shared purpose, a faith community builds a powerful understanding of the human potential of each and every individual, and of how to actualize true love for each other through mutual and humble service.

3. A Safe Place: A community creates Tables as a way of understanding that community and personal judgment may have contributed to poverty. The safe place is free from blame and shame, moves at the own pace of the Sister/Brother, and is based on the Sister’s/Brother’s own definition of success, culture, and support.

4. Transformation and Reconciliation: As the community moves into mutual, direct relationship to those who are in poverty, reconciliation between races, social groups, and families begins to occur. This shift forever abandons the paternalistic, dependent model of change and reveals the opportunity to be healed by each other.

5. Local Determination and Ownership: The Open Table model provides a foundational, consistent, tested, and proven process for addressing poverty, and provides training for communities. However, exactly how the community forms into a local movement and what population is served are all locally determined and managed.

To learn more about Open Table, click here.

Table Graduates

Remained in relationship with their table members after 2 years.

Table Members

Felt they experienced personal transformation.

Table Graduates

Had a better job and/or were in a college or technical school after their table experience ended.

Table Members

Noted that they utilized their community and faith connections to help the sister/brother meet her/his goals.