Our new church plant in Kingston, Ontario, has a clear core purpose: encounter God. So, when people who want to encounter God get together, they could rightly be called Encounter Church. I like it.
I first met planting pastor Andrew DeBartolo about eight months ago. I asked him why he wanted to plant a church and what would be the purpose of the new church. We want to encounter God, he said. We want to stir our affections for Him. We want to focus on God’s goodness to us. Well said.
Andrew and I have spent several months investigating the possibilities for the church plant and preparing the ground to receive the church planting seed. Andrew and his wife, Kathryn, have gathered a core group of committed followers of Jesus Christ, and Andrew has framed a clear vision of what it would mean for the people of Kingston to encounter the Lord at Encounter Church.
That vision is expressed in the church’s four core values:
• Holding fast to the Gospel of Christ – 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 – In every part of our lives and in every part of our church, our desire is that the Gospel is at the centre of everything we do.
• Making disciples of Christ – Matthew 28:18-20 – We are committed to teaching people what it means to follow Jesus and obey the things He has commanded us to do.
• Passionate in worship – Psalm 100:1-5 – In our corporate gatherings, we are intentional in encouraging and teaching our people to worship God with joy, sincerity, and in truth.
• Pursuing authentic relationships – Hebrews 10:24-25 – Through fellowship, mentorship, and accountability, we will sharpen one another in intimate relationships.
The church’s core values are extensions of what the Lord has made me passionate about, DeBartolo said. I love the idea of starting a church from the ground up. Kingston has a tremendous need for the gospel.
He said that, in this city of about 125,000 in eastern Ontario, about 100,000 are not involved in a church. I love to study and teach the Scriptures. The Lord uses His word to draw people to Himself. People who come to Encounter Church will hear God’s word and see it applied in all of our ministries. I’m hoping that people who don’t know Christ will hear the gospel and respond to it. I’m hoping that those who already know Christ will grow to become more like Jesus Christ.
That’s a fine Kingston vision. There’s a lot of ground work to do in the next several months. We’re looking for the church to emerge next spring with its first public worship service.