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Encounter Christ Home
  Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why did we feel the need to move out of the gym and into homes?

Very simply, we perceive a strong resistance here in the “Bible belt” among many outsiders (this term works better for us than “unchurched” because it more accurately describes what people feel like who are not accustomed to the world of what is called 'church') to "church." It doesn't matter who you meet -- everyone has a preconceived idea of "church." And whether we like it or not, that idea - whether it is correct or totally mistaken - creates an obstacle over which many will not venture. Getting away from the external & institutional trappings of current models goes a long way in bypassing that obstacle to create immediate opportunities for outsiders to see clearly that "church" really is "people" first of all.

Quite frankly, whether we want to admit it or not, the traditional model of building-oriented church life is drastically impersonal the vast majority of the time. This is not a slam on people or a judgment of anyone’s hearts or motives. It is an observation strictly about systems and models. God is completely personal, however; personal in the sense that he has always been involved with people. He has always worked in relationship with people, and his church is founded on principles of operation which are entirely personal in this sense. We do not at all here convey the idea that God is defined in personal ways, as though each individual can create a ‘personal God’ in a relativistic sense. God is personal in that deity is comprised of Father, Son, and Spirit – 3 persons, and he calls us into personal relationship with himself and other people. Thus church, as he designed it, should be a personal and interactive experience, reflecting God’s own nature and fulfilling his instructions for life.

The home-based approach creates the most effective format and context for expressing the fullness of the primitive church we read about in Acts. The standard of practicing "one-another" passages, hospitality, relational ministry, restricting the tendency to categorize "church life" from other areas of life, avoiding tendencies toward a clergy-laity distinction, being personal with each other while we’re “at church,” and restoring the 4 pillars (as we like to call them) of the early church as described in Ac. 2.42 actually become realities in the most powerful ways in a home-based context. Evangelism can also happen naturally since it happens in the flow of natural life.

2. So how do things work in a "home-based church?"

IT MUST BE UNDERSTOOD HERE: simply relocating our proverbial you-knows from a pew (or in our case, a chair in the gym) to a living room does not in and of itself a thriving church create! We are not so puerile as to assume that just because we're going to meet in homes we're suddenly going to explode spiritually or numerically. Values drive behavior. We do what we value. If there is no value change, then geography is meaningless. Structures and systems simply facilitate or hinder the real goals of living out values that are characteristic of the kingdom of God. Our activity and gatherings in homes allows us to live out our true values – relational ministry, personal interaction, friendship, etc. By meeting in homes as well as connecting with each other in various other ways and places, where life happens, we have the freedom to fulfill our vision – every soul in daily communion with God, and every soul in basic Christian community. We have observed in Encounter some amazing things and God is clearly at work transforming people - both through saving the lost and equipping the saints.

Regarding “how things work,” it’s all through a strong relational network. Simply put, we keep in touch. We try to keep in contact with each other in various ways through the week and look out for each other. We operate very much like a large extended family; the only real difference is that we eagerly welcome newcomers! When something needs to be done, we work it out together. We can’t all participate in everything with everyone, but one problem we just do not have is people “falling through the cracks” or remaining anonymous and never getting any personal attention.

Through relational ministry, discipleship, hospitality, etc. we'll do our best to be his body and fulfill the great commission. It is very demanding personally, and a bit unusual in some ways, but we are confident of God's call. And if in fact he is in charge, then he will certainly show us whatever arrangements he's already made and waiting for us to discover.

3. What are your gatherings like?

We have two kinds of gatherings: Sundays, with everyone, and during the week in men’s and women’s partnership groups.

We meet weekly in a home on Sundays, with everyone together. After a time of welcoming and conversation, we focus our attention on the activity of singing praises, sharing what is going on in our lives, sharing the bread and cup of communion, spending time in God’s word, and even planning ministry assignments together whenever we can. We also spend time in ministry with our children, so after some time with everyone together we take turns with our children in another room teaching them lessons, singing and praying with them, and teaching them to minister to one another. Once a month we all remain together for the entire gathering for learning and interaction that incorporates all ages.

We also meet in men’s and women’s groups during the week. In these meetings we get deeper into study and discipleship, and spend time in personal prayer together and ministering to one another as needs arise. These are times of fun and seriousness, study and interaction, questions and answers, growing and serving.

4. If I were to visit one of your gatherings, what would be expected of me?

Just your presence. We have an intentional but relaxed atmosphere. There is no dress code, no sense of expectation or familiarity with any heritage or ritual, and no “entry level” of Bible knowledge or spiritual ability is necessary. You would be free to engage in conversation and discussion, but just as free to simply observe. As you will find out, nobody’s a stranger very long.

5. If I visited one of your gatherings, what could I expect?

An atmosphere of welcome and friendliness, a wide variety of people, to not be the only newcomer, to find that you’re not alone, cool insights from God’s word, some good clean fun, to meet the Lord Christ, and to leave with a sense of excitement about coming again.

“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.

Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

2 Peter 1.3-11