Whether you have personally visited them or not, it is likely that you have seen pictures of skyscrapers like the Sears Tower or the Empire State Building. These colossal structures tower above the skyline, dominating the other buildings around them. On any given day, hundreds of people will come to marvel at the heights to which they stretch. They are truly amazing sights.
But while nearly everyone would want to ride to the top to take in just how high these man-made marvels reach, very few consider going down to look at their foundations. In truth, as impressive as they are, they are only as good as their supports.
In the same way, to truly understand Encounter with God, we must look at its foundation. Essential to the Encounter Movement is its deep connection to three biblical foundations that guide and undergird all other concepts and principles.
Great Commission Oriented
First and foremost, Encounter is Great Commission oriented (Matt. 28:18-20). The intent of the Encounter with God Strategy is to, as the Commission states, “make disciples of all nations.” This demands a balance of evangelism and discipleship. Reaching new people with the gospel is essential, but there must also be a commitment to maturing each new believer if we are to keep the Lord’s command.
Local Congregation Centered
Discipleship is best done in the context of the local body of believers. In fact, this is the one institution that Christ established. Likewise, when the Apostle Paul conducted his missionary efforts his primary method was the establishment of local congregations that were responsible for furthering the cause of the gospel in their city and region. Social and educational missionary work is valuable, but CMI believes that a strong local church will be able to provide these same types of ministry to its own community more effectively, thereby enhancing its testimony and drawing more people to make decisions for Christ.
Pauline Model of Missions
If you were to get a map of the ancient Roman Empire and then note the cities where Paul initiated ministry, you would find several commonalities between them. In almost every case, Paul concentrated ministry in cities of significant influence. Locations such as Lystra, Derbe, Ephesus, Philippi, and Corinth were centers of commerce, transportation and education. Paul focused his efforts in planting churches in the major urban centers of the Roman world, ultimately moving toward the city of cities – Rome itself. Analyzing Paul’s strategy, Roland Allen writes that “in his hands [these strategic centers] became the sources of rivers, mints from which the new coin of the Gospel was spread in every direction.” Similarly Encounter with God is a strategy that seeks to maximize the crossroads of culture, planting churches in those locations that will have the greatest impact in spreading the Gospel message.