The Encounter Programme
The Encounter Programme – York and Hull District
Are you looking for an opportunity to join with a group of Christians to reflect on Christian living and to discern what God may be calling you to do?
If you are then the Encounter programme may be just what you are looking for.
Encounter is a programme of exploration into discipleship and vocation developed and run by the Methodist Church. It aims to help people to know themselves better, develop a deeper relationship with God, identify their gifts and discern who and how they are to be in the world, including exploring various possibilities for service.
Encounter helps you reflect on your journey to see where God has called you in the past and may be calling you now. Together with others you will reflect on what you already do as a follower of Christ, share and reflect on some new experiences and learn more about the Christian faith.
What are the aims of Encounter?
Encounter is designed to help you to develop a deeper understanding of the call from Jesus to ‘Follow me’. It provides an opportunity to consider the following questions:
• What gifts and skills are God-given?
• What does it mean for me to follow Jesus today?
• What is my calling?
• How does my church tradition help me to serve God today?
• How am I Christian within and beyond my local church?
• What part do I play in God’s mission?
Who is Encounter for?
Encounter is for Christians who have a desire to deepen their faith and increase their awareness of what being a Christian disciple means for their everyday lives and what God is calling them to be and do. Encounter aims to deepen understanding of vocation in a broad sense, exploring calling in your home and work context as well as possibilities for service in church and community settings.
What does Encounter Involve?
The core part of Encounter revolves around monthly meetings of 8-12 ‘explorers’ usually held on an evening over a period up to a year. Sessions involve prayer, engagement with the Bible, discussion, guest speakers and time for reflection.
Between meetings you will complete various individual activities of your own choosing. These will include practical experiences of Christian service or ministry and some type of structured learning, such as a short course, a study day or guided reading. During the programme you will also meet regularly with an Encounter Accompanist to discuss and reflect on how you are growing in your relationship with God and discerning your unique calling in the world.
The cost of the programme is £90. For explorers connected to the Methodist Church £30 is paid by each explorer, their Circuit and their District.
Here is what a past Encounter explorers said about the programme:
For me Encounter was a real gift. Over the course of the year, it provided space and lots of different ways and opportunities to explore my own discipleship and calling, and to deepen my relationship with God.
Perhaps most importantly it has helped me to see my whole life as a follower of Christ. Inevitably our lives will be compartmentalised into church, family, work etc., but it’s seeing that each one of these areas is part of our Christian journey and each one provides opportunities for growth and witness. That God is present in every aspect of our life. The course explores the importance of ‘balance’ in our lives, and helps you to look at your life afresh, and to see whether the way you are living, is one in which you can be all that God has called you to be. I’m not very good at making decisions, and one particular session spoke about involving God in decision making, and remembering that the knowledge of God’s love for you is more important than any decision you might make.
Perhaps the thing that surprised me most, was that over the course of the year I did encounter God in lots of different ways, sometimes in worship but also in ordinary times, and places, and through ordinary people.
The course was excellent in helping me to get to know myself better, providing tools for analysing my personality in a ‘safe’ way, which celebrated my strengths and helped me to identify my gifts and talents, giving me a stronger sense of self.
One of the things that the course introduced me to and that I have carried on, was journaling. This is a really useful tool for reflecting on experiences and of how God is active in my life. Talking through experiences with my accompanist, again, a new concept to me, and trying to discern where God may have been in different situations, was also key in my journey this year.
So, Encounter has changed the way I look at myself, my understanding of God and his purposes and my place in the world. I had been wondering for some time, how I could best use my gifts and talents to serve God always feeling like I did a little bit of this and that and feeling pulled in lots of different directions. But now, I feel more focused and free, and am following a call to train as a worship leader this autumn.
How can I find out more….