10 Truths Learned From Encounter Ministries
‘Christ died for what we deserve,’ says Encounter Ministries, ‘so that we can receive what he deserved.’
Encounter Ministries (www.encounterministries.us) was founded by Patrick Reis and Father Mathias Thelen of the Diocese of Lansing, Michigan. They say the ministry’s purpose is “to unleash the transforming power of the Holy Spirit in the world through teaching, equipping, and activating disciples to demonstrate the love of God through the power of the Holy Spirit.” Its work has been endorsed by many bishops in the U.S. and elsewhere. The ministry offers a two-year training program, the Encounter School of Ministry (www.encounterschool.org); its participants include Father Chris Clay of the Diocese of Lexington, Kentucky. Father Clay shared with me “10 truths” he has learned from the ministry:
1. We receive God’s inheritance; we don’t achieve it. So as Catholics we are all about receiving our inheritance as God’s children where our identity is based on who we are, not on what we have or what we do. This allows us to surrender a performance-based mentality as a condition where we try to earn our identity as God’s beloved children. We don’t have to worry about earning our identity, because Jesus died for us to have complete access to the Father. “He died for what we deserve so that we can receive what he deserved.”
2. Remember who we are. We are already like God. We don’t have to do anything to be like God. We can remember that Adam and Eve were already created in the image and likeness of God. This was already their inheritance. The devil wanted them to think they had to perform or do something to be like God (Genesis 3:5: “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil”). They were already like God. It is the same with us through the gift of our baptisms; we don’t have to perform to be God’s children.
3. God wants us to hear his voice. There is an open heaven where in our identity as beloved children of our heavenly Father leads us to a deeper intimacy through hearing God’s voice more clearly in our lives. There are four modes of hearing God’s voice: through seeing images or scenes in one’s imagination, hearing words from the vox mentis (the voice of the mind), feeling physical senses upon one’s heart/body and knowing information in the intellect that form whole thoughts.
4. Ministering from Christ’s authority. Power is the ability to make something happen. Authority puts us in a position to use God’s power to do something. Through Christ’s authority, we walk in our baptismal identity by exercising the authority Christ has given us. Christ’s authority grows with responsibility and is exercised through faith and by the words we speak. This authority manifests itself in that the name of Jesus carries power. We minister with authority through compassion and humility.
5. Temples of the Holy Spirit: “Do you not know that you are God’s Temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16). Each of us is a temple of the Holy Spirit. This means we are the true “House of God” and “Gateway to Heaven” through Jesus. Through Jesus, there is an open heaven where we can hear the voice of God and see the presence of the angels and the fire of the Spirit coming down upon us. “So we don’t pray from earth to heaven, we pray in faith to bring heaven to earth.”
6. Renewal of the mind: The renewal of the mind is the process of shifting our mindset from a worldly human perspective to a divine heavenly perspective. Excess in the intellectual can result in overvaluing the mind. We put God in the box because we know how to do this. This is like being a whitewashed tomb. Deficiency in our intellectual life can result in undervaluing the role of the mind. “A dogmatic faith unsupported by personal experience remains empty; mere personal experience unrelated to the faith of the Church remains blind” (Pope Benedict XVI). Faith is like the river and the renewed mind are the banks that give it form in direction to God’s plans and purposes for your life. Romans 12:2: “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.”
7. Thermometer vs. thermostat: Thermometers measure the temperature. Thermostats change the atmosphere. The Kingdom of Heaven is inside us. The Holy Spirit is inside of us. Heaven is at hand. Do we bring God into the presence of every situation? God does not want to answer our prayers. God wants to answer the prayers through us. With the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are thermostats where we can change the temperature in our lives and those around us by the way that we pray in faith for the miraculous change that God wants to do through us.
8. Words said in faith change reality. We can seek transformation through Christ when we make declarations of faith. “A declaration is a vocal decree of God’s truth spoken in faith that changes reality. Declarations have the power to strengthen us from weakness. Declarations can direct the course of our lives. Declarations can confirm and seal our beliefs. Declarations are weapons that keep us from falling into performance mentality. Declarations can unlock the promises of God for our lives.”
9. We are Christ’s friends not servants. “Servants are good at performing tasks and checking off boxes, while friends do more from love and passion than servants can from hard work. Servants earn favor through service and performance, while friends gain favor through relationship and trust. Servants have communication that is one way, while friends have communication that is two-way. So Jesus fulfills and perfects friendship with God.”
10. The release of the Holy Spirit. “The effects of the release or baptism of the Holy Spirit frees us from fear to do the mission of evangelization and be fearless; stirs up spiritual gifts we need to evangelize; empowers us with the same spirit that Jesus has so that we can do what he did; unlocks supernatural ministry; unites us with our Father and teachers us how to pray in the Holy Spirit.”