The Four Pillars of Encounter
1. Discipleship—Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Jesus has given us an undeniably clear pathway for freedom, and that is through discipleship.
2. Recovery—We all have adversities in life, whether they came from circumstances beyond our control or consequences of our own actions and sins. We are all broken and need to recover from how something or someone has impacted, or still impacts our lives.
3. Evangelism—Part of the beauty of knowing God and experiencing His grace is that we get to share that eternal hope with others. In fact, we are commanded to go and tell others about the amazing grace of Jesus Christ, our Lord.
4. Community—We know that we need others in our life to help us and encourage us. We get better together. We believe in building healthy accountable relationships where people love each other enough to tell them what they need to hear as opposed to what they want to hear. We work hard at building safe environments where God works best.
Encounter is for people who want...
...to get well
...a safe community
...recovery and spiritual growth
...to experience change and healing
...an Encounter with God
...an Encounter with "Me Too" people
...an Encounter at the Cross
...an Encounter in His presence
...an Encounter with the Holy Spirit
Build a discipleship, recovery, evangelism community where hope can be found by living out the 12-Anchors of hope in community with others.
Founder and Pastor
Encounter was birthed in 2016 in the Santa Clarita Valley of Southern California. Pastor Bill Rieser and his wife, Carolynn, settled there after spending the previous decade ministering and leading recovery-type ministries in several churches around the country.
Growing up, Bill played basketball on the outdoor courts in New York City. His 44-inch vertical leap had earned him legendary status among streetball greats on the asphalt playgrounds. But bad choices, life disappointments and a life apart from God had left Bill at an all-time low. It finally took a real leap of faith for Bill to reach extraordinary new heights.
Bill’s faith journey began with a complete and sincere life conversion in his late thirties. Bill’s was a “road to Damascus” type of conversion, much like the Apostle Paul’s. Not unlike Paul, Bill’s only response was, “Lord, who are you and what would you have me to do?”. Bill’s former life had been ruled by his sinful lifestyle. That all turned around with one amazing Encounter with the living God. Bill invited Jesus to be his Lord and Savior and the Holy Spirit came to be his guide. Bill has been all-in with following Jesus ever since God’s grace saved him. His ministry verse is from Acts 20:24:
“But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus – the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God” — Acts 20:24 NLT
Bill and Carolynn have learned that having joyful freedom in this life comes only through a committed and surrendered walk with Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. For them, there is no other path to break the chains of addiction and pain that come from adversities in life. They have observed that people can’t change themselves, but they can allow God to transform their way of thinking and coping. The people they have observed to be truly transformed, those who have really recovered from a former life of adversities, are people that really believe God is who He says He is and that He can do what He says He can do. Those people have decided to authentically follow Jesus and make Him the Lord of their lives. They have learned to replace untruths with truths – God’s truths. Bill and Carolynn believe that following God and His ways is the only pathway to true recovery and joyful freedom in this life.
Bill was introduced to recovery ministries after he became a pastor and saw such a need for it, especially in present-day church and society. He became a great proponent of recovery ministries; the biggest cheerleader for telling others that no one is beyond the redemptive powers of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Most pastors come out of bible college or seminary and offer great wisdom and counsel, yet some may not have experienced the depths of adversity that can come from dark choices or the the consequences of being deeply hurt and wounded in life. While all pastors, just like all of mankind, have indeed faced sin issues – the depth of their sin may not have been as dark as someone with Bill’s life experience. Scripture teaches that, what the enemy meant for harm, God can use for good. That is exactly what God did in Bill’s life, as he grew to love God and began to be used according to God’s purposes.
Bill’s life experience and God’s redemption of his life and sin have given Bill an authentic appreciation for God’s grace and salvation. Bill knows that God has the power to turn lives around, because God turned his own life around. Bill knows there are no impossible cases, none too difficult for God. Bill’s perspective and authenticity are attractive to people who are struggling in life. Sharing what God has done in his own life helps Bill inspire other people and give them hope that their lives can also be changed and redeemed for the purposes of God.
After a decade of experience in the realm of recovery ministries, Bill is humbled to share some key factors that God has revealed as central to helping one really overcome life’s adversities so they can live in peace with God and others. Discipleship is essential to knowing God and His truths and being able to apply those truths to one’s life. When one becomes a disciple of Jesus and truly follows Him and His teachings, they are in a position to recover from life’s adversities. One recovers better in community with others through encouragement and through sharing with others what God has done in their lives. Those 4 Pillars – Discipleship, Recovery, Community and Evangelism are at the core of what we believe and do at Encounter.
No matter the past - God has a plan, a hope and a future for all who encounter Him and follow Him as their Lord. God changed Bill’s life and he lives to encourage and inspire others that God can and will do the same for every heart and life that is willing to believe and trust in Jesus and follow Him as their Lord and Savior. Bill’s story is one of miraculous redemption. Bill has written about it in a book entitled "Vertical Leap" by Moody Publishers.
God’s Word is our truth.
We don’t dwell on past hurts, as much as we look toward the future and rely on what God can do in and through us.
We stress taking personal responsibility to recover in life.
We know that spiritual commitment to Jesus Christ is essential to any lasting recovery and growth.
We believe that the power of the Holy Spirit is our source of strength and healing.
We combine the best of discipleship and recovery as the pathway for lasting change, growth and healing.
We know community with others is key. We get better together and we need to build healthy relationships that will help and not hinder our growth and recovery.
We recognize that all of us need to recover in life. We all have different kinds of hurts, habits, and hang-ups of varying degrees.
We focus on allowing God to heal the “root” issues of our life instead of wasting time dealing with the symptoms of our root issues.
There are good recovery programs and there are good discipleship programs. Encounter combines Discipleship, Recovery, Evangelism, and Community as the four pillars of our ministry.
Encounter instills hope that can pull down strongholds and break the power of sin. Applying what is learned at Encounter can produce lasting change in a person’s behavior that can restore lives, families and communities. These positive and lasting results can only happen through an Encounter with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Encounter strongly believes that God is Who He says He is and we are who He says we are. We believe that we are not our sins, our habits, our defects, and what has been done to us. We embrace our true identity In Christ and reject the lies that have tried to steal our identity.
Encounter embraces authenticity and honesty that creates safe environments where it is ok not to be ok but not ok to stay there.
Encounter believes in the power and value of prayer. If you can pray more efficiently you can live more freely.
Encounter is not a ministry for those people. “WE” are those people and we all need healing and growth from the brokenness in our lives. Encounter is truly a ministry that anyone and everyone should attend and be a part of.