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T O P I C    R E V I E W
touchadmin Posted - 09/07/2005 : 10:58:46
I recently had a pastor inquire as to the use of Encounter God with churches that were not cell-based. He also asked about holding the weekend and inviting multiple churches to participate to reduce overall costs and increase momentum. Here's my answer:

1. Encounter God (EG) can easily be done in multiple church situations, and is actually quite good when done this way because the members come to understand that finding spiritual freedom with EG isnít just the odd or weird thing that their home church is doing or a pastor is pushing them to do.

2. EG works best when you do a menís encounter one weekend and a womenís encounter a month or so later. This solves childcare issues and makes it far less expensive for participants because four guys or four gals can pile into a hotel room for a weekend versus a couple with their own room or feeling odd sharing a room with another couple. Itís actually easier to be a participant and focus on your own stuff if your spouse isnít on the premises (personal observation that my wife and I have made over the years).

3. Yes, EG can be done outside of cell churches, there are a few challenges you must overcome:
a) Participants wonít share deep stuff with another person they do not know very well. The more they share, the deeper the healing;
b) The aftercare is far more important than the weekend event, which means that the partners who share at the EG must meet weekly as accountability partners to share very transparently when Satan comes back to attack them full throttle, and he will and always does. These two issues are usually solved when the members attending EG are in a cell group. They have close friends, accountability established, and hopefully, they are going through EG as part of a discipleship path toward wholeness, maturity and group leadership.

4. EG works best when the participants have been meeting with their EG partners for a number of weeks before the actual event. I recommend that you pair up two men or two women to go through the book Beginning the Journey by Ralph Neighbour as a ďpre-encounterĒ tool. Itís five weeks long and theyíll be hungry to discard strongholds and confess sin if they have some prep time to talk over deep issues. Without cell groups for general accountability and encouragement for this, itís going to be hard on the pastoral staff to pair up people, insure theyíre meeting, and to help them be transparent with one another... Christians, especially those whoíve been in the church a while, are super cover-up artists and can mask all kinds of stuff (ie., I was told that over 50% of men in protestant churches in the USA today have a habitual online pornography problems, yet no one talks about it).

Lots of churches have tried to ďbreak people out of the Sunday boxĒ with an EG weekend, and it sure does that for a short time. But, if the prep work isnít done and they have no intimacy with other believers like a cell group provides, they usually slip back into old habits and get worse. I donít mean to discourage you, and you must continue to pray and ask God to show you what to do.

Transitioning Sunday sit and soak Christians into biblical community that actually points them outward to a lost world is a huge paradigm shift, but the change in mindset is a cakewalk compared to the radical lifestyle changes required to make it work. EG helps this process along the way, but in my experience, itís a mid-point tool for those already committed and involved in transparent sharing in a cell group.

Randall Neighbour
Forum Administrator

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