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encounter groups

Once you have registered, we will arrange for you to gain experience by working alongside one of their experienced facilitators for a few sessions.  You will have the opportunity to grow in confidence, ask questions, take part in de-briefing sessions and see how the Lord uses Encounter Prayer to bless his people.  

 

If you decide to go ahead and set up your own Encounter Group, we can provide you with access to numerous helpful resources and you will be encouraged to keep in touch with us every so often in the future.

Frequently asked questions

Can an Encounter Group take place in person as well as online?


Yes! Encounter Groups work just as well in person as online. You will simply need to ensure that there is sufficient space for small groups to meet and talk without being overheard.




Will you oversee my Encounter Group?


Whilst we are always available to offer encouragement and guidance, the details of how you run the group is entirely up to you. We operate as a network of independent meetings, all similar in style but run by different leaders. There is no way that we would want to breathe down your neck by ‘policing’ the content or taking responsibility for it, as it would be very much your own group. We simply ask that you stick to our Core Values for leading Encounter Groups.




What are the Core Values for Encounter Groups?


“A bruised reed he will not break,

And a smouldering wick he will not snuff out” Matthew 12.20

We are told in Matthew’s Gospel that these words, originally spoken by the prophet Isaiah, were fulfilled in Jesus. If he took great care in his dealings with bruised and fragile people, then so must we. The value and dignity of every person is important, and we must commit to protecting and honouring all those with whom we interact.

• The focus of Encounter Prayer sessions is always the same – to encourage people to appreciate the Father’s love for them, provide an opportunity for them to have a fresh encounter with the person of Jesus and see what happens as a result, and to welcome the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.

• In all our dealings with one another, the fruits of the Spirit should be our guide: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Each person should be treated as an individual and with equal concern.

• It is absolutely vital to promote safe practice by all people in positions of trust.

• If there is concern about the safety and well-being of someone taking part, it is important that the leader is notified as soon as possible.

• Co-leaders and facilitators should be chosen with care as they will be reflecting your own ethos as well as that ours.

• Regular feedback meetings should be held to ensure that any queries and concerns are aired.




How often should I run an Encounter Group and how long should it last?


You can run an Encounter Group as often as you wish. So long as you have people wanting to take part it is worth running it.

An Encounter Group can last for any period of time. Online, 40 minutes works well as this can be run on a free Zoom account. However, a time of Encounter Prayer can easily be expanded or reduced to fit the time available. The main thing is ensure that it is not rushed so that people have time to experience the Lord.




What is an ideal size for an Encounter Group?


The minimum size for an Encounter Group is 3 people, and there is no upper limit. It simply depends on how many facilitators you have as this determines the number of small groups/breakout rooms that will be possible.




Do I have to put people in small groups?


If numbers are small, you may decide to remain in one group for the whole time. However, if there are six or more taking part, you could consider dividing into two or more small groups with a facilitator in each. People are more likely to share in a small group than in front of a larger gathering.




Do you have any other wisdom to share?


  • Nowadays, it is always wise to cover ourselves against any allegations. We use the following disclaimer: ‘Please bear in mind that these meetings are not private and CHM cannot guarantee confidentiality - so only share what you are happy for others to hear. Also CHM cannot be held responsible for comments made by others or for any decisions or changes you decide to make as a result of this time together.’ You may choose to do something similar.
  • Exercise caution in sharing your personal contact details with a participant you do not know. You could always consider setting up a separate email address if you wish.

  • Choose any co-leaders/facilitators with care as they will be reflecting the ethos of the session.

  • Hold regular feedback meetings with your facilitators to ensure that any queries and concerns are aired.




How do I appoint suitable facilitators?


  • Facilitators should be known and trusted. Bear in mind that a gentle and sensitive character is far more important than any previous experience.
  • Lead a Group Encounter for your potential facilitators so that can they experience it for themselves - or suggest that they book in to one of our online sessions. You will soon discover who has an aptitude for this ministry and who is less interested.




How do I train my facilitators?


Once you have registered with us, you will be given access to training resources, and we suggest you:

  • Gather together your facilitators to discuss and work through The Role of a Facilitator
  • Watch the training video together




How do I produce a suitable talk?


You can write your own talk, but if you prefer you can register with us and be given access to a library of talks which you are welcome to put into your own words or simply play the video to your group.




What technical knowledge will I need?


Fortunately, no great computing skills are necessary! When you register with us you will be given a technical information sheet that provides you with all you need to know.




What should I do before an Encounter Group takes place?


  • Pray!
  • Advertise the Encounter Group and invite people to book in for it (it helps to have some idea of numbers to ensure that the necessary number of facilitators is available).
  • The day before, send the details to all participants – including any facilitators. This serves as a reminder to any who might have forgotten, as well as being a convenient means of sharing the link for an online meeting.
  • Prepare a short talk and Encounter prayer.




What format do your Encounter Groups follow?


We use the following format which works well:

Welcome and introduction

Bible reading

Short talk

Guided meditation

Time for everyone to share and explore what they experienced

Final blessing and farewell

However, you are under no obligation to do the same so long as you stick to the Core Values for leading Encounter Groups.




If I decide to follow your format, what do I do?


Start the meeting in good time, particularly if you are operating online, as it can take some people a while to join. When informally welcoming people, it is important to try to strike a balance between greeting acquaintances warmly whilst not making new participants feel left out. The first part of the session:

  • Formally welcome everyone and open with prayer.
  • Either read a passage from scripture or pre-arrange for someone else to do this.
  • Give a short talk (only about 3 minutes long) to encourage people to lift their eyes from their own situations and focus on the wonder of God – or play one of the talks from our EP library.
The focal point of the session:
  • This is the Encounter Prayer/meditation itself. It should be led slowly, giving participants plenty of time to encounter Jesus for themselves (perhaps take around 10 minutes over this).
  • Then allow a few minutes for them to reflect and write down something of their experience.
Reflecting and sharing together:
  • The general aim is to encourage each person to reflect on their own encounter with Jesus. You may decide to create small groups for this, each with a facilitator, and divide the participants between them. Alternatively, If your numbers are less than six, you may prefer to remain together in one group.
Ending the session:
  • Announce details of the next Encounter Group if one is planned.
  • Close the meeting with a prayer of thanksgiving and blessing.




What happens after the Encounter Group ends?


It is good practice to hold another short meeting straight afterwards with anyone who has assisted with the session, to share encouragements, air any difficulties and generally ensure they are happy. This can be a wonderfully rewarding time as stories emerge of Jesus at work!