Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What About the Blog?

We've decided to keep the blog alive so that you have acces to the wonderful conversations we've had through the years at Encounter. We hope to keep these conversations going in worship@twelve and hope to see you there Sundays at noon in the main auditorium.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

"Great" Friday!

Thanks to all who helped with the Good Friday Experience. It was a meaningful time of reflection and I believe that everyone who attended was really blessed by it!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

HELP NEEDED for Communion Setup this Friday

As Jared mentioned last week at Encounter, we're responsible for setting up communion for the Good Friday Experience this Friday. We heard from 3 or 4 people, but we still need help with communion, and with ushers and hosts. Let Jared know if you can help.

As we reflect on Christ’s ultimate sacrifice this week, we invite you our GOOD FRIDAY EXPERIENCE this Friday, April 22nd at BranchCreek. Come anytime from 4-8pm and you’ll have the opportunity to experience communion, the stations of the cross and a short “unplugged” worship service. Services are 30 minutes and are offered at 4:30, 5:30, 6:30 and 7:30. Childcare is provided through first grade.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011


Sometimes we feel like we have it all figured out . . . 
yet we lack the perspective to see the whole picture . . . 

Friday, January 21, 2011

Special Offering

One of the hurdles that we've faced in Encounter and in the Family venue is the antiquated technology in the 100 Auditorium.  Chris Benge has done a phenomenal job in determining what pieces could be used and what pieces needed to be replaced, and we've been moderately successful thus far.  But one of the biggest complaints that I hear is that the image on screen is too small or fuzzy or dropping out.  It's been our biggest challenge over in the Family venue where the screen in the whole message!

I'm pleased to report that a family from within the Encounter community stepped up and made a generous contribution toward the project, paving the way for the entire infrastructure to be re-worked!  Just last night, Chris was able to run new high-definition cabling from the computer to the existing projector, and the sharpness of the text was instantly noticeable!  We're now only about $5000 away from being able to purchase the new projector, which is the last piece in the puzzle.

It's my hope that a few families from within the Encounter and Family venues will step up and meet this need.  Prayerfully consider if God is calling you to be one of these families and mark "projector" on your offering envelope.  This will ensure that your gift will go straight toward the completion of this project!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Perfect Movie for Apologetics

I don't usually like the programming on TBN...OK some of the stuff I downright hate and find embarasing for Christians.  But I've always enjoyed the music videos on JCTV.  Well they also play Christian movies.  Wait, hear me out...I know you're stifling your gag reflex and having visions of bell-bottomed Believers being terrified in the '70's era apocalyptic trainwreck "A Distant Thunder"or "A Thief in The Night."  But the modern ones are actually quite good.

I was up early with asher this morning and caught the film, "Another Perfect Strager" and thought it was a remarkable piece for Apologetics or defending our Christian faith.  [As an aside, isn't it ironic that we make no apologies for our faith in Christ, yet we call the study in defending the faith apologetics?  Maybe Jared can shed some light into the etymology there...]

So check out the movie!  Find it on JCTV or NetFlix or click the image above for the website.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Greetings from the Detwilers!

Dear family and friends, far and wide - here are a few photos as we wish you a belated "Merry Christmas" and an early "Happy New Year"!

Elizabeth is a freshman in high school, and Jonathan is now in middle school. Both are doing great. Kim returned to teaching full-time this fall. And me? Well, I'm the one taking the photo!

Among the highlights for the year was a special trip to the White House, courtesy of one of my cousins, who works there (how cool is that?!). We also enjoyed celebrating Kim's parent's 50th wedding anniversary at Disneyworld.

And if you ever wondered what heaven looks like, well, here ya go! This is the annual TubaChristmas, that Jonathan and I participated in (you can see us, if you look close, on the far left, about two-thirds of the way up).
May God bless you as we move into the new year. With much love, from Dave, on behalf of the whole Detwiler family.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

New Era, New Look

So are you as excited as I am about the changes?  I know that we've been making a big deal about the new Family service and the Image project, and perhaps you've felt like Encounter has played second fiddle to the new venues.  Nothing could be further from the truth!  We're working hard to make sure we don't change that which makes Encounter unique, challenging, relevant or take away from the wonderful community that has been worshipping together for the last seven years.  

So let us know about some of your experiences over the next few weeks.  What things do you find meaningful?  What still needs some improvement?  We value your feedback!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

No Encounter Tonight!

Just a reminder that we will not be meeting tonight. Instead, join us Sunday night at 5:30 for the new era of Encounter!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Future Steps for Encounter

We have been looking for some time now at how we can better fulfill our mission as the Encounter Community. There are 3 important steps that we are taking to start this process that you should know about.

First, we have created an Encounter Directional Team that will really help us to move forward in 2011 and beyond. They will provide direction and leadership to Encounter on a team level, engaged in prayer and conversation on behalf of Encounter.

Secondly, it has been decided to move to the 100 auditorium, or what was formally called the “Mini.” In our survey several weeks ago, the majority of people were in vocal support of moving spaces, recognizing that if community is one of the values of Encounter, then we really need to be in a space that provides for that in greater ways.

Thirdly, after meeting with several different groups of people, from those who attended the meeting last week, to many other leaders at Branch, to several other churches that have either Saturday or Sunday evening services, we have decided to move Encounter to Sunday evenings at 5:30pm.

After hearing everyone's voice and spending the week in prayer, we met as a team yesterday to make a final decision and we all really felt that God was leading us in the direction of change. We believe it will help us in our mission to make more and better disciples of Jesus. Is it the magic pill? No, there are no shortcuts in building relationships with our neighbors and introducing them to Jesus. But we want to do what we can to aid in what the Spirit is doing in people’s lives.

We have several reasons for making this decision and if you were in the meeting then you were able to see the list we made, but I just want to mention a few of them here:

First, our mission as Christ-followers is to be among our friends who don’t know Jesus. If our unchurched friends are hanging out with each other Saturday nights on a regular basis, it might be better for our mission to be among them, giving ourselves space to speak about Jesus to them. This is better accomplished if we aren’t taken away from them each weekend on Saturday evenings to attend Encounter. We might even persuade them to attend with us on Sunday after spending time with them on Saturday.

Second, as leaders of Encounter, we want to use our time together to equip each person here to be the most faithful follower of Christ that they can. And even in the best of circumstances with our most faithful attenders, attendance is still often intermittent. There are just so many activities, trips, and events that happen on Saturday night that it makes it nearly impossible for most people to make it every week.

We know that this will be a challenge since many of us have adjusted our schedule over the years. But we hope and pray that if this is your church family that you will continue to worship with us. Our goal is not to lose anyone and we pray that even if this creates some conflict with you that you would be willing to just try it out, for say 1-3 months.

Now, when will these changes take place? They will both take place on November 28, so please do not come on a Sunday night for Encounter until that date. In addition, as we make that move, we want to mention that the core distinctives of Encounter are not going anywhere. Our upcoming Christmas series will be going through the text of Luke 1-2 and we will begin 2011 looking at the extremely practical letters of John, 1,2, and 3 John to see how we can, as John says, live as children of God.

Please be in prayer with us over the next several weeks as we make this transition. May it help us in bringing more and better followers of Christ into the Kingdom of God.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

New Chapter

I've always had two great loves: music technology and music ministry.  In my senior year of college, however, I was at a crossroads.  Either I pursue technology and recording or pursue music ministry through seminary training.  In the end, I chose the former and spent the last decade in the recording studio recording and producing albums.  I was livin' the dream!

The last two years have been extremely difficult for the music industry.  With the proliferation of home recording studios coupled with an extremely poor economic climate, there has been less and less work.  Amy and I soon realized that we wouldn't be able to support our growing family with two part-time incomes.  We had to make some tough decisions; Amy went back to work full time and I left the music world to be a stay-at-home-Dad.  The transition was really difficult, and we weren't sure how it would work, but we steeped out in fath knowing that God would catch us.

God knew the desires of our hearts and revealed a plan far better than we could have imagined!  For Amy, he provided a family-friendly job that challenges her every day, and she loves it!  Then, an invitation was extended for me to join the family at BranchCreek, where I've been serving as a volunteer for over 7 years.  God affirmed every step of the process, so I knew that this was where He wanted me to be!  I accepted and became the Associate Worship Director under the guidance of my friend, Dave Detwiler. This, to me, was real treat as we've cultivated a friendship over the years; now I can call my mentor my colleague!

This new role allows me to continue to provide leadership for the Encounter community that I love dearly as well as chart the course for the new Family worship service.  And it's no accident that He chose a guy with three small children to lead a service about worshipping together with your family.  God truly is in the details!

Some might say that I chose the wrong path at that crossroads back in college.  Or perhaps I took a 10 year detour in finding my true calling in music ministry.  But I know that God was preparing me for exactly this season in my life; He knew that I would draw from my past experience for my leadership role at BranchCreek.  I'm really excited about this new chapter that God is penning in my life and in the history of BranchCreek!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Encounter By The Numbers

Here are the highlights from the Encounter survey we took several weeks ago:

Our average age is 40
55% are married
28% are single
17% are single again

There are 91 kids living at home in the Encounter community.

Far and away the top answers to “one thing people find most meaningful about Encounter”: Music, Teaching, and Sense of Community. These have been the same answers for several years.

When we took the survey, this is how people were connected to Encounter:
2% were first time guests
4% were second time guests
8% have attended Encounter for less than a year
14% have attended Encounter for 1-2 years
20% have attended Encounter for 2-4 years
48% have attended Encounter for 4-7 years

Do you feel moving to the other auditorium is a good decision for Encounter?
Yes: 69%
No: 13%
Unsure: 14%

Would you continue to attend Encounter if it were held on Sunday at the time best for you?
Yes: 62%
No: 25%
Unsure: 8%


If you would like to receive a pdf of the entire survey with its responses please let me know and I would be happy to send them to you.

If you would like to participate in the discussion about moving to Sunday nights, please join us this Saturday night at 7:45pm in Rooms 405/406.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Venues Upcoming

Hello all - I know Dave posted his "visual" of what is upcoming a while ago, but Mike A, our communications director, just released the "mostly" offical rendering of the new logos. We'll all be getting cards this weekend with these graphics to help us understand these new gatherings.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Survey Results

Hello all - I apologize for the lack of posting lately. We have a lot of exciting changes coming up for Encounter and my attention has undividedly been with those changes as of late. But the responses from the Encounter survey are in. We will be posting them next week for everyone to look at. But we did want to send a special invitiation for anyone concerned with moving Encounter to Sunday nights. As we consider this possibility we want your input. If you have concerns, or even if you are decidedly for a move to Sunday night, please come to Room 405, at 7:45pm after Encounter next week, October 23. We will speak as candidly as possible about the possibility and hopefully have a healthy dialogue.

Thanks everyone.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Family Service: I'm All Ears!!

Julia Spencer's comment in the last post made me realize that we have the invaluable opportunity to get your input as we're designing the family service.  So with that in mind, what are you looking for in a family worship service?  Here's the rough draft that we've sketched out thus far:

The first 20 minutes would involve music, dance, sketch comedy, art, puppets, or other forms of experiential worship and would vary from week to week.  It's designed to be interactive and enjoyable for parents and children alike. The kids would be dismissed just before the message, which is recorded from the 9:00 Sunday main service and played back on DVD for the family service. Finally, we'd have an offering and response time during which we'd have more live music to respond to the message.

As always, your thoughts or comments would be greatly appreciated as we move forward in this Family Worship experiment.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Introducing BranchCreek Venues

I'm a visual person, and when first presented with the new offerings at BranchCreek, I had to see it to wrap my mind around it.  Maybe you're like me and need to see the changes that Jared proposed on Saturday.  I created the image above to illustrate the new service offerings.

What's exciting about  this new direction for BranchCreek is that we're offering four distinctly different services each of which has the potential to reach very different audiences.  It makes the church even more accessible to even more people!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Face of Encounter Worship

Tonight marks the end on an era.  Tonight at Encounter, Aaron Bishop will bless us one last time with his heartfelt worship.  

I've had the honor or working with Aaron pretty much from the beginning; we've been trading off Encounter worship duties for as long as I can remember.  I've worked at a number of churches over the years and have never met anyone that "gets it" as much as Aaron...myself included!  Aaron continually raised the bar and challenged me to seek the Heart of worship; to be transparent and let all the cares of the day fall away.  When Aaron leads, his authenticity is unmistakable.  You know that he has a deep love and conviction for Christ that is evidenced in his playing and singing.  I joke with him that he has a repertoire all his own like "Sweet Holy Spirit" and "The Wonderful Cross"...songs that he gravitates toward as a worship leader.  It's during these "Aaron Songs" that we see the true joy that corporate worship brings to him.  That joy fills the sanctuary, penetrating the even the coldest of hearts.  Its' that joy that I've found so inspiring and has driven me to bee the kind of worship leader that Aaron is.

Aaron & Lisa, Nora & Ian will be missed by the Encounter community, but we're excited about this new chapter God is penning in their story.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

God is Love - Michael Gungor Band

I usually reserve my thoughts until after I have seen everyone's comments but I thought this was a good message and a well-done video. If you disagree...then I will label you evil, call you names, misrepresent your view points, talk about you behind your back, and hopefully cause other people not to associate with you as well. Oh wait...

Saturday, September 11, 2010

New Arrival!!

Amy and I are elated to announce the early arrival of Asher Daniel Gerhart, born Wednesday, Sept. 8th at 12:58 pm at Lehigh Valley Hospital.  He was born 10 weeks early and weighed in at 3lbs 3oz, so he's officially smaller than Annie (if you can believe that!)

Amy was discharged Friday and Asher will be staying in the NICU for about 6 weeks.  Pray for Asher's continued growth and that the Father will give him peace and comfort in his unfamiliar surroundings.  He's doing really well, we just can't wait to bring him home and complete our little family!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010