Dino Rizzo is a renowned pastor with 35 years of ministry experience, including two decades of planting and pastoring a megachurch. Dino’s extensive years of experience have allowed him to live, love, and lead with remarkable skill, making him a valuable source of guidance and inspiration for many people.
Dino and his wife, DeLynn Rizzo, founded Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge in 1993. The church began with just twelve people and grew to over 10,000 in weekly attendance across nine locations worldwide, focusing on serving the poor and the hurting. Dino also founded the Servolution movement, encouraging churches to join hands and embark on a revolution of helping others. Dino’s passion for outreach and mission work is evident in the numerous outreaches and programs Healing Place Church involves, from offering free medical and dental clinics to helping ex-prisoners re-enter society.
Dino is also the co-founder and executive director of the ARC (Association of Related Churches), which has planted over 1000 churches worldwide. Pastor Rizzo also serves on the Senior Leadership Team at Church of the Highlands, leading all areas of outreach, missions, prison ministries, dream centres, and serve days. Dino is a gifted author who has written several books, including Serve Your City. He and his wife have been married for 34 years and have three adult children.
Can you tell us a little bit of your backstory? Why is outreach important to you?
Dino Rizzo: “Well, I wasn’t raised in church. I came to church. A church did an outreach. That’s why I love outreach, serving, and all things serving. I still believe it works. I still believe that we should engage the community. We should make our communities better with the love of God and for the cause of Christ by being engaged with the community.
“So I came to Christ that way. I got involved in a little church, and they put me to work and got me on a team. I was one of those guys who wanted to do it all: I’ll sign up for that work day! I’m doing work today. Intercession prayer – I’ll do it. Ladies Conference, or back in those days, it was the Ladies Tea; I’ll do the Ladies Tea. I’ll be there to help set up chairs.
“So I got saved through an outreach, through a church having an idea to go outside the walls of a church. So that’s why I’m sold on outreach. Sometimes, we wonder, “Was anybody getting saved? We give hope, we give out these gifts, and we go bring that turkey, or we do “hams for fams”. Come on, somebody, is anybody getting saved? Hello? I got saved because a church did an outreach. I’m a full-on believer.
“Then, out of that, I felt something. I was a street preacher for a little bit, doing street ministry. And when I would talk about the Bible, people knew more about it than me. I’m preaching it, and I don’t know it. So my mother said: ‘You ought to go to Bible school.'”
How did your journey grow from there?
Dino Rizzo: “I went to Bible school for several years. I met DeLynn. We did youth ministry, which we loved and thought, probably like all of us, “I’ll do that the rest of my life.
“Out of that time of doing youth ministry, I just started having a heart for the poor. I started having a heart for those who struggle with different things beyond spiritual or soul: food, shelter, and water. Maybe someone in their family has been incarcerated. Maybe there’s been an addiction issue or an unfortunate thing that’s happened in their life. Maybe they’ve been brought up in a community that doesn’t have the opportunity. I think I just leaned into that. I read some Mother Teresa, and I was done after that. I said: ‘I want to give my life to the poor.’
“DeLynn and I, through some conversations with John Osteen, Joel Osteen’s dad, looked at us and said: ‘You need to go to South Baton Rouge to plant a church to reach the poor.’ He didn’t even know we had that in our hearts. So we launched a church in 1992, Healing Place Church, where I pastored for 20 years.
Can you talk about clarifying the calling? I think all of us are looking for some kind of calling, some kind of purpose. How did you clarify that down because this is the thing?
Dino Rizzo: “It is very hard to be true to yourself. It is extremely hard to get comfortable with your skin and who God made you. I love the idea of learning from others and gathering from others. I can learn something from you. If you have a good steak, I can grill it.
“But I think there comes a point where Psalms 139 says that there is something about the way God created me. And I’ve got to figure out a way to get in tune with that, to get in touch with that. I think the Holy Spirit does it the best.
“I think there are three ways to figure it out. One is the Bible. God’s going to talk to you the same way He wrote. I think it’s the Holy Spirit. And then I think there are some people who know you. And I think when you can line those three things up like three poles, where it’s three poles, and you see one, I think when you see that, then you’re close to maybe doing what you’re supposed to do.
“DeLynn and I wanted to help hurt people. Out of that, it morphed. It takes on different shapes and different seasons, with different opportunities. And even to this day, with what I do now, whether it’s at Church of the Highlands or out speaking or working with ARC [Assocation of Related Churches], if you cut me, I still bleed outreach to hurting humanity. That’s still at the core of who I am. It has a little bit of a mission vibe to it and a little bit of an evangelism vibe. I still know what I’m called to do; it just comes in some different expressions now.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg.