Five years after marrying, Dino and DeLynn Rizzo, 28 and 23 at the time, started Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge with a single focus of being a “healing place for a hurting world.” From the beginning, the Rizzos’ hearts were toward helping people. The early catalyst was a garage sale initially meant to raise money for a sound system for the new church. Instead of selling the items, Dino realized the need.
“Take the price tags off,” he said. “Let’s give it all away.” The garage “sale” started the Rizzos and their fledgling church down the path of generosity, birthing in them a passion for people and giving away resources. “We didn’t know much,” Pastor Dino says. “I knew that we were supposed to reach the poor, and I knew that we were to be generous. I had seen that in Joel Osteen’s dad, John Osteen. I was very impressed with his generosity, and his heart for people.”
As the Rizzos began to talk with each other and others about their new church plant’s identity, and thus, name, DeLynn’s mom told the couple, “Well, everything you’re saying is a healing place for a hurting world.” Healing Place Church was born.
Starting with just twelve people, over the following nineteen years Healing Place grew to over 10,000 people gathering every week in nine locations from Baton Rouge to Maputo, Mozambique. Filled with a passion to serve the poor and hurting “wherever they are, whatever it takes,” every week hundreds of volunteers served in outreaches—cooking hot breakfasts for the homeless, helping ex-prisoners re-enter society, caring for AIDS orphans, giving roses to women working at local strip clubs, reaching the poor through free medical and dental clinics, and many other outreaches. His book, Servolution, exposes his passion to see believers join together in a revolution of serving others—Jesus style.
For years, Dino has talked and walked out God’s call to His people to serve others. In 2009, he released the best-selling book Servolution: Starting a Church Revolution Through Serving, which to date has sold thousands of copies. The book’s success launched a movement of more than 700 churches throughout the world that participate in Servolution in their own communities, including Lakewood Church (Houston, Texas), Lifechurch.tv, Camina De Vida (Lima, Peru), Life Church (Manurew, New Zealand) and Assembly of God (Gdansk, Poland). With Servolution, Dino sounded a mass call to churches that serving is not about an event but rather, infusing a “serving” culture into their DNA. To this day, Dino continues to hear from leaders who tell him about the transformational impact that Servolution (first published in 2009 and printed in Spanish) has made in their church and city.
In 2000, Dino co-founded the Association of Related Churches (ARC), a growing group of churches devoted to launching, connecting, and equipping churches and pastors—with the ultimate vision of seeing a life-giving church in every community in the world. Dino serves as the Executive Director for ARC, which has now launched almost 800 life-giving local churches, and is poised to train, equip, and resource another hundred or more couples to launch churches in the coming year.
In his ARC role, Dino leads the National Serve Day initiative, enlisting ARC churches to serve their communities on a specific, designated day—hoping and praying that serving will become part of every church’s DNA. He is also highly visible as host and emcee at ARC’s conferences that in 2017 saw 3,000-plus pastors and leaders at the Birmingham gathering. Additionally, he serves as a keynote speaker and is involved in planning the conference App workshops.
Dino also serves on the Executive Team and is Outreach and Missions Pastor for Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, Alabama, one of the largest and most influential churches in the United States, led by planter and Senior Pastor Chris Hodges. In these roles, Dino teaches in weekend worship services throughout the year and leads the church to recognize the needs and serve the community.
Born in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, in 1964, Dino was the youngest of three. After giving his life to Christ, he moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to attend Bible college, where he met DeLynn Austin, a native Louisianan. When the two met, DeLynn was leading worship in churches. Dino tells the story of the first time his dad saw DeLynn.
“I came home and said, ‘Daddy, this is the girl I’m dating,’ and showed him her picture. Immediately, he got up and said, ‘C’mon son, we’re gonna go get a ring to make sure this girl doesn’t get away.’”
Not long after, Dino and DeLynn married in 1988. Together, they began serving as student pastors.