Saturday, December 22, 2012

Highest Offering in Encounter's Four Year History!

Wow Encounter Church!!! 
Did you ever give above and beyond this morning!
With gifts that came in before and after the Day of Generosity, our offering has totaled out at $20,486.39.
That's simply amazing!
Can't wait to tell Rut and the team down in Guatemala about this:-)  

You're Invited to Christmas Eve @ Encounter Church

There's no Sunday morning church service tomorrow, December 23rd.

But we are looking very forward to 
our 5:00pm Christmas Eve Service.
Hope you can make it:-)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

November 18, Day of Generosity

As I mentioned in my last blog post, the focus for our November 18th, Day of Generosity was announced last Sunday. (scroll down on the link to see past Day of Generosity focuses) 
Each year Encounter takes a Sunday morning offering in November and gives 100% of it away.  It is promoted weeks ahead of time and usually is the largest offering of the entire year.
This year's focus is the purchase and delivery of an SUV for our ministry partners down in Cruz Blanca, Guatemala working with orphans through the ministry of Vision Trust International.
On Sunday I had some fun showing the congregation "potential" vehicles the elders considered.  Most of them were quite silly. But after talking with Matt Storer, president of Vision Trust and another couple at Encounter who also had this project on their hearts, it was decided the vehicle would be a Honda Pilot.
The hope is that it would be five years or younger with really low mileage. It will need to be a four wheel drive version and the plan right now is to drive it down instead of shipping it.  It's approximately 2,800 miles, in case you were wondering:-).
As I said above, 100% of the November 18th offering will go towards the vehicle and its delivery, though people are encouraged to send support money into the church office prior to that date as well (Encounter church, 6160 Riverside Dr., Ste. #103, Dublin, OH, 43017)
More details will be discussed this coming Sunday in the service.

October 14th was a great Sunday!

This morning had a number of amazing church body life moments.  It started off with three great worship songs led by our worship band.  Then we had two people baptized: Jean Griffith and Ted Dresnek. They both spoke about their journey coming back to God and now wanting to go public with their faith.

Then Kyle Mielke, shared about an opportunity he has to go to India to see a former workmates wedding and also amazingly visit the child their family sponsors through Vision Trust.

Then finally, before the the message, I shared about our upcoming Day of Generosity. The Sunday where we give away 100% of our mornings offering to a specific need.  The date is November 18th and it is the fourth time Encounter has has it.  Check out my next blog entry for details:-)

Friday, October 12, 2012

My Wife...the Writer and Speaker

From knowing my sweetheart as far back as our college days at Moody Bible Institute, I've known she likes to write.  If I have to admit it, she may have helped me on a paper or two or three:-)  I remember her actually signing up for the classes where she knew the profs assigned large essay papers.  And I wonder why we hardly had class together but came out with the same Bible Theology degree.
Throughout the years there have been small opportunities for her to use this gift for writing, but lately I see more and more larger ones presenting themselves.
Within the last two years she's written for our fellowship of churches women's magazine Spectrum, Jill Briscoe's magazine for women: Just Between Us, and most recently for Life Way's ParentLife Magazine.  This last one is the most exciting because it came through her sending the publishers at Life Way the manuscript she wrote for a women's Bible study in the book of Jeremiah.  You might ask yourself, how is the book of Jeremiah relevant in the life of a woman in 2012?  You'd be amazed how many practical applications can be made!  If you ask Melissa, she'd tell you Jeremiah is the book for our time.  
So one of Life's Way's top editors got his hands on Melissa's Jeremiah study and a dialogue between them began.  It's been almost two years now and she has written and re-written the entire study, tweaking, sharpening and making it more applicable to the reader.  
What's newer in her life is speaking; specifically to groups of women.  Now I've always known her to lead women's Bible studies, teach in Sunday school classes and large groups of students.  She's especially passionate about speaking to middle schoolers.  But through her research, writing, and leading a women's Bible study in the book of Jeremiah, a desire to publicly speak has emerged.  
After receiving her Jeremiah study, Life Way asked Melissa to send them a video of her teaching the material.  At first she wasn't excited to do this but after a few weeks of prayer and an amazing connection made with a video production company, she decided to move ahead.  Sending an e-mail to friends and neighbors back in January of this year, she took her first major step in speaking the message God placed in her heart.  85 women were there in the basement of the church that sent us to plant Encounter.
It was so fun for me to see her in action.  I even got to be one of the three cameramen in the room:-)  To view a 10 minute YouTube clip from her message CLICK HERE.
So now while we wait to see what Life Way will do with her Jeremiah study, over 2,800 people have viewed her video and she has a dozen speaking engagements lined up over the next 12 months. 
Only God knows how He will use the message He's placed in my wife's life out of the book of Jeremiah, but this husband is excited about the possibilities!

That Time Of Year...

Ahhh, Fall.  The time of year you take the children to a fruit farm to pick apples...whether they want to go or not:-)
This has been a tradition for the Spoelstra family for years and years.  Beyond the few sibling squabbles, it really is an enjoyable time.

This year we bumped into our long time friends from Grace Church, the Bowers, whose twin girls were born one week after ours.
So far the apples have been used for five homemade apple pies. Yum!  Melissa is sooo good at making them.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

My Twin Girls

So this Fall my daughters tried out for their middle school volleyball team and didn't make it. A sad day to be sure. Then we signed them up for our communities volleyball league, Dublin Youth Athletics (DYA) and who gets to be their coach?...yep! Me. Then the next week they, at their mother's prodding, try out for the tennis team...and make it.  Hilarious!
Here's a pic of them this morning in their tennis warm-ups.  Abby's on the left and Sara on the right.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Studying for a new message series

Today I've been studying for a new message series titled: ICNU.
It's going to look at six biblical characters especially selected by God.  The series will show us that God hasn't only chosen these famous individuals for His work, but that we are also selected to do great things for His name and His glory. 
In order the messages will look at Abraham, Moses, Jonah, Joseph, Esther and David.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Week #2 of "Getting Out & Staying Out"

So we're in a three week message series on getting out and staying out of debt.  Last Sunday was more about the "getting out".  But I also spoke about something even more burdensome than being in debt: being personally enslaved to money.  We read Jesus' words in Matthew 6:24, "You can't serve both God and money."  It's like Jesus is saying the number one thing that will keep you from loving and serving God is being a servant or slave to money. Whether we're in debt to it or greedy for it, loving money is a killer to our relationship to God.
This week we'll be talking about the "staying out" of debt and the love for money.  You see, it's one thing to get out of something, it's another to stay out.  We'll explore what it looks like to be content with what we have.  And in studying for the message I was hit hard by this statement: 

To be more content with what I have, 
I have to become more and more discontent
 with what other people don’t have.

What a great phrase!  It's like saying I've got to become more satisfied with the "needs" God has taken care of in my life and then instead of using the excess for my "wants", I'm positioned to fill the needs of those He puts in my path.
Hope you can make it this Sunday.  
Click on the series logo below to hear last weeks message.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Tough workout @ Shred!

This morning was one of the toughest workouts ever at Shred Fitness. It's Labor Day Monday and 24 of us showed up to be put through the ringer. Often our workout time is under 20 minutes but this one took over an hour! The workout was called "Small" and Marcus, our trainer, partnered us up with a workout buddy.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Excited about a new three week message series

Tomorrow I'm beginning a short message series about money. It's titled:
God's Word speaks so much about money and our finances that it would be odd to not speak about it in our church services. 
I understand the awkwardness for some folks because of the tone TV preachers have and how the "health and wealth" movement presents the topic.
But the correlation between one's spiritual growth and how they spend their money cannot be denied. Take a peek at Matthew 6:24 and 33 to get a hint of what we'll be talking about.

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Very Special Service

After three and a half years of services, Encounter proudly introduced and commissioned a new church plant to be birthed in January 2013 in Hilliard, Ohio: Movement Church.

From the very first pre-launch meeting of Encounter Church in September of 2008, planting a church out of ourselves was one of our dreams. Tens of thousands of dollars, hundreds of hours of praying and planning over the years now sees a five month journey for the Movement Church launch team until they begin holding church services of their own.
This morning I had the privilege of briefly explaining this journey and then allowed Mark Artrip to express his excitement and appreciation.

Rob Dubois and I prayed for the Movement Church launch team as next week begins their weekly pre-launch meetings where they will pray, dream, teach, plan and visit other local churches for the next five months.
We want to see them succeed in every way and are gifting them people resources as well as financial and prayer support.
Only God knows for sure what will become of this decision but we hope it will be the beginning of a mission to multiply churches over and over again for HIS Kingdoms sake.
To God Be The Glory!

The picnic was awesome!

More than 20 families came to the picnic after our church service today. The food was great and it was so fun to see all the relational connecting going on.
The tug-of-war competitions were a real hit too:-)
Click on this link to Encounter's FB page to see all the fun that was had:

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Encounter Church Picnic

Can't believe summer is almost over!
For some of our families school starts this week others the week after. As a fun way to end the summer we're having an all church picnic Sunday, August 19th.
Burgers, dawgs, salads, sides and desserts - yum! 
And for your entertainment there is horseshoes, a fishing pond, volleyball, basketball, corn hole and a classic tug-of-war competition:-)
These are such fun and easy times for us as the Body of Christ to connect relationally and spiritually all the while having a blast.
Hope you can make it:-)

My Wife, The PTO President

The other night I had the pleasure of watching my wife Melissa lead our elementary schools PTO meeting. I'd say there were approx. 30 people in the room. Four men and the rest women. I'm proud of the leader she is in our church body and also in the public schools. 
We transitioned our children from the Christian school system to the public when we started the church plant over three years ago and have never questioned the decision. Doesn't mean it's always been easy but we have the responsibility to raise our kids, not the school system.

Friday, August 10, 2012

SERVE Leadership Community

Tomorrow morning Encounter has one of its quarterly leadership gatherings.  We call it, Leadership Community (LC). Each is themed off of one of our four core values: Celebrate, Grow, Serve and Multiply
Usually we have a guest speaker come in and cast vision to the group about the core value but tomorrow my wife Melissa & I are leading the talk. Recently her and I read the book, Sifted, by Wayne Corderio and also heard two different speakers on our vacation to Gull Lake Ministries in Michigan that spoke about Christ followers serving.
So tomorrow we will discuss why we serve and how we ought to serve biblically.
I really look forward to this time with our leaders because they are some of the greatest people the Lord has put in my life. 
Tomorrow there will also be a time of worship, an elders Q & A, a small group and budget update as well as a ministry breakout time for our ministry coaches to get together with their teams for connecting, instruction/teaching and prayer.
To learn more about our past LC's, scroll down the page until you see "Categories" and click on the Leadership Community blog post label. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

New Message Series

For the last 16 weeks we took a journey through the first nine chapters of the book of Acts.  We will come back to Acts in the future but will now focus the next three weeks on Spiritual Gifts. 
This Sunday we'll look at what spiritual gifts are and aren't and the next two will discuss their purpose and define what each is for.  The series will end with the congregation receiving a questionnaire that will be a tool to help them discover what gifts they have for the building up of the Body.  This will point folks in the right direction as to the best Encounter ministry position that fits their individual gifting. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tuesday Morning Men's Group

For the last three years there has been a group of men meeting on Tuesday mornings to connect over coffee and discuss a chapter out of the Bible. We've gone through the book of Matthew twice and are now in the book of Ecclesiastes for the second time. We've changed locations three times, seen men come and go but the one thing that has stayed the same is Matt Jacobs. He started the group and continues to faithfully call/text men to meet. Thanks for your leadership Matt:-)
(he took the picture, that's why you don't see him in it)

My Gals in the Color Run

For months now Melissa, Abby and Sara have been training to do Columbus' 5K Color Run.  Today was the big day and we met some friends and neighbors downtown. I believe there were around 12,000 people entered in the race. Enjoy the pics. and video.

Back from Guatemala

Yesterday, our team of 22 people from Encounter got back on US soil from our week long trip to Guatemala. It was a fantastic time of deepening relationships with the children and Vision Trust staff in Cruz Blanca. This Sunday we will be sharing testimonies in the service about it.
If you would like to see pictures from the trip click on this link to my FB page.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Heading Back to Cruz Blanca Guatemala

This past Sunday the team of people going to Cruz Blanca, Guatemala July 10-17 were prayed over and commissioned to go on behalf of Encounter Church. Altogether there are 25 of us going.
Our two main objectives are to build a large mobile classroom at the ministry center and to run a two day VBS to four different groups of children. There are approximately 260 children in all.
Many of the people at Encounter sponsor children at this ministry center and our team is bringing gifts from them to their sponsor child(ren).
I'll send out a pic from the airport of the group but I'm not certain if I'll have internet access while in Guatemala. It may be a week until you hear from me again but I'll be sure to give you an update when we're back:-)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Back to the book of Acts

We are five weeks away from finishing the message series, "The Acts of the Apostles". Though we will not even come close to finishing the book, it is the longest continual series we've done at Encounter: 16 weeks in all.
This Sunday I'll be teaching from chapter 8:1-25 where it speaks about the disciples being scattered because of persecution and about a man named Simon the Sorcerer who was enamored with the Apostles because of the power they had through the Holy Spirit. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Attempted Coup of Encounter Church

Mark Artrip warned me he was up to something. I go on vacation and have him preach for me and what does he do? He breaks into my home with a video camera and drives around in my jeep!
I guess at the end of the service yesterday he showed this video:

Enjoy a good laugh at my expense. He did a really good job. I sent it to a few people I know know and one Creative Arts Director in Chicago put it on his blog:

Mark Artrip Preaches on July 1st

Knowing I wouldn't be back in town for Sunday, July 1st, I asked my buddy Mark Artrip to preach for me. He and his wife Kristin are the couple who will be leading the Movement Church plant to Hilliard in February 2013.  The plan is for him to join me on staff on August 1st for six months. We call it a leadership residency. It will allow he and I to spend tons of time together (sorry Mark) and also for him to teach, train, dream and pray with his launch team before launching.
I got a few pics. from people during the service which made me a little nervous.
You see, Mark and I have been friends for over seven years and we enjoy playing pranks on each other.
This pic. sent by one of our members concerns me most.

Awesome time on vacation in Cape May, NJ

This past week was spent in Cape May, NJ with numerous family members.  We tent camped just like at the church campout last weekend. If you're counting...that makes seven days in a tent.  Two of the five nights it poured rain. The second was the huge storm that knocked out over a million peoples power in Ohio, that first went through NJ, right where we were camping. Yep, monstrous winds whipping the tent which caused us to run to the in-laws motor home where I had the worst night of sleep in my life. We had nine people in a motor home built for four.
Wait...I titled this blog, "Awesome time on vacation in Cape May, NJ". So what made it so great?  Time with family, swimming in the ocean, seeing dolphins swimming beside the boat, percolated coffee made on my Coleman stove and simply being unplugged for a week.

2012 Encounter Church Campout

This past weekend was our annual campout. I look at it as our best opportunity for Encounter families to connect with each other. Spending two full days talking, boating, fishing, swimming and eating together.
Sunday's service also saw eight people get baptized which was really special. 
You can view all sorts of pics. on our church's FB page. 
Just follow this link:

Guatemala Spaghetti Lunch Fundraiser

This past Sunday, June 10th, Encounter had a lunch to raise money to help finalize the funds needed for those going to Guatemala this summer. It was a fun time for those going to serve the rest of the congregation and work together as a team.
Our people didn't disappoint. Their generosity was great. $2,532.61 was raised!!!
Thanks Encounter Church for showing that you believe in helping the less fortunate.

GROW - Leadership Community

This mornings LC was great.  Sarah Knepper was our guest speaker on our core value Grow.
Having it in a home makes it cozy and the time together as leaders is so good. As usual, we had an elder Q & A time and broke into ministry groups for training, accountability and prayer.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Warrior Dash

Yesterday was a crazy fun day! 
Ten of my workout friends at Shred Fitness and I did the Warrior Dash in Logan, Ohio. It was a 3.5 mile cross country race with 12 obstacles throughout the course. It all ends with a mud bath under barbed wire. You gotta go to my Facebook page to see the pics. of the event:!/media/set/?set=a.3576107995949.217453.1070553470&type=3 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Back to preaching in the book of Acts

Well, I took a two week break from preaching but this past Sunday, May 13, I again had the privilege of being Encounter's main preacher/teacher of God's Word.
No other thing was harder to get used to than transitioning from being the Families Pastor at Grace Church in Powell to lead pastor in the Encounter Church plant. I went from preaching once every two months or so to every week. The weekly preparation of a biblical message for the congregation at Encounter is a sacred trust I don't take lightly. 
Whatever we preacher's bring to our people from God's Word, first goes through us. That means God kicks my butt before He kicks yours through me:-) I joke but it's serious stuff.

Exponential 2012 Was Awesome!

This year there were eight of us that attended Exponential. From Encounter there was myself and Luke and Beth Fields. From Movement Church, our future church plant, was Mark and Kristin Artrip, Josh Howard, Sarah Knepper and Phil Hill.
The week was inspiring, fun and bonding for both church plant teams.
We've already signed up a few of us for next year:-)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Heading to Exponential 2012

Can't wait to go to the Exponential church planters conference this year! Eight of us are heading down this Sunday afternoon for the week.joining me is Mark & Kristin Artrip, Josh Howard. Sarah Knepper, Phil Hill, and Luke & Beth Fields.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Studying through the first five chapters of Acts

For the three years Encounter Church has been having services I've wanted to preach from the book of Acts. Somehow it hasn't happened until now. Last Sunday I introduced the congregation to the book and the first 11 verses of chapter one. The plan is to preach two weeks on the first five chapters. That will bring us to Father's Day and the week before the family campout.
Acts is the "rest of the story" following the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Christ(well the next 30 years anyway).

Monday, April 2, 2012

Easter Sunday @ Encounter Church

Would be glad to have you join us at Encounter this Sunday for our EASTER service and egg hunt for the kids afterwards.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Kyle Mielke on to preach this Sunday

This morning I met with Kyle Mielke to talk about small groups at Encounter and the message he will be preaching this Sunday. He is Encounter's small group ministry coach overseeing all the different leaders. He also has spoken at Encounter more than anyone other than me. This year he is signed up for three times and this Sunday is the first.

He's joining me in the IDK series and his topic is "How can a loving God allow so much suffering?". Should be good to flesh this question out.

Click on the series graphic to link to Encounter's online messages.

Monday, March 26, 2012

I'm On Twitter Now

Ugh! I said I wouldn't do it but the pressure from @markartrip was just more than I could handle. Especially since he was the one who set it up for me and Melissa as well. She's @melspoelstra and I'm .

I've entered 2012.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


This Sunday begins our new message series titled: IDK.
The series uses the book, The Reason for God, by Tim Keller.

The four weeks are as follows:
March 18
Hasn’t science disproven the Bible?
March 25
How can a loving God send someone to hell?
April 1
How can a loving God allow so much suffering?
April 8
How can Jesus be the only way?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Two new message series in March

Now that the month of love and leap year day are behind us, we begin a short two week series on Satan, angels and demons titled: Fringe. One of the reasons for this series is that I told the congregation back in the Fall of 2011 that I'd talk about it. We were in the Old Testament book of Daniel then, which mentions angels and demons several times, and I didn't have the extra time to teach about them.After Fringe we'll do a four week series answering some of the most common questions/problems people have about Christianity.
Questions like: Hasn't science disproven the Bible?; How can a loving God send someone to Hell?; How can a loving God allow so much suffering?; How can Jesus be the only way?
This will take us right to Easter. After IDK we'll take six weeks and go chapter by chapter in the New Testament book of Acts 1-6.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I'm so proud of my wife

So a few weeks ago my wife Melissa spoke to a group of about 85 women in the basement of our sending church, Grace Church, in Powell, OH. The fun thing for me was that it was all captured on video thanks to my friend Adam Grover of Media Images Inc. He even let me operate one the cameras.
Melissa was basically introducing the women's Bible study she wrote from the book of Jeremiah. The study is called, YELLOW: 7 Caution Lights from the Book of Jeremiah. Below is a 10 minute excerpt from the 50 minute message she spoke.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Daniel Wallace guest speaks @ Encounter

I love it when my far-away friends can stop by long enough to speak on a Sunday morning at Encounter:-)

This Sunday, Feb. 12/12 my kindred-spirit Daniel Wallace, Director of Gull Lake Ministries, ( is preaching week #2 in our February series, "Love At Last Sight". His message title is, "The Art of Intentionality" and will be teaching from Luke 15.

Friday, February 3, 2012

February Message Series

Each year during the month of love, I do a message series on relationships. It typically has heavy doses of humor but also packs a punch about how important our relationship with God, spouse, children and friends are.
This year's series is titled, "Love At Last Sight".

Feb. 5 The Art of Being All There
Feb. 12 The Art of Acting Intentionally
Feb. 19 The Art of Risking Awkwardness
Feb. 26 The Art of Letting Go

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Finally gone public w/ future church plant

Today in our service three things occoured: we celebrated three years of Sunday morning services as a church, I taught on our core value multiply, and Mark & Kristin Artrip were introduced as the couple who will lead a church plant out of Encounter in the Spring of 2013. For three and a half years I've said, "I don't know who, or where or when we will plant a church but we're putting 5% of all church offering towards it in preparation." So imagine how fun it was to finally go public with this information! You'll hear more in future blogs to be sure about Movement Church.