We have six urban encounters that we offer to give a glimpse of what is like to live in extreme relational, economic, and spiritual poverty throughout our city. From the chronic homeless to those incarcerated, from those trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty to those fleeing their homeland seeking a better life, all of our urban encounters are designed to allow you to experience the unknown, challenge your assumptions, give you a new perspective, and stretch your faith. Check out all the opportunities below and see how you, your family, or your church could experience an supernatural encounter.
A 48-hour weekend poverty immersion experience. Enter the world of poverty and homelessness and discover the unique challenges of ministry among those on the margins of society.
POVERTY IMMERSION WEEKEND: FRIDAY – SUNDAY
WHAT IS POVERTY IMMERSION WEEKEND?
Urban Encounters Poverty Weekend Immersion is a 48-hour around-the-clock physical immersion into the parallel universe of urban poverty. This model of experiential learning is a means of orienting primarily middle-class, suburban Christians to the challenging urban, multiethnic, poor social context and community so that they are better prepared to competently minister on behalf of Jesus Christ. The time frame is typically Friday evening to Sunday evening.
WHY POVERTY IMMERSION WEEKEND?
It is doubtful that Christians can minister effectively in a context they do not understand. We understand that to be true internationally, but it is also true here in urban America. “It is not good to have zeal without knowledge.” (Prov 4) Regardless of how excited we are to reach the city, we must first be competent in our understanding of it. Competency to minister in middle-class, dominant-culture suburbia does not prepare one for ministering in a multiethnic poor community.
WHAT DO YOU DO ON THE WEEKEND?
You will actually experience the challenges of living in poverty and being homeless for 48 hours. You will be safe. No one will be on their own on the street. Your church leaders know what participants will experience, but participants will know very little of what exactly they will experience ahead of time. This is by design. It is an experiential learning event that participants enter into by faith. When you are poor, events happen to you over which you have no control. When you are poor, you learn to live “in the moment.”
It is a safe experience. Our director has over a decade of experience conducting these immersion weekends with hundreds of people.
Step out of your comfort zone and into a world behind bars. Spend a Saturday in a local prison and learn how to minister to the incarcerated both on the inside and once they are released.
You will encounter incarceration by spending a Saturday in a local prison. The day will include a tour of the prison, times set aside to talk and engage with the inmates, and a church service in partnership with the prison chaplain. We will also eat a meal with the inmates and listen to how God is moving inside the walls in the lives of the inmates. Throughout the immersion, we will be facilitating conversation that will force you to step outside your own perspective and challenge preconceived notion that you might not have known that you held.”
ENCOUNTER REFUGEE LIFE
An intense 48-hour physically challenging immersion experience that exposes you to the parallel universe and ministry challenges of refugees.
REFUGEE WEEKEND: FRIDAY – SUNDAY
WHAT IS REFUGEE WEEKEND?
Urban Encounters Refugee Weekend Immersion is a 48-hour around-the-clock physical immersion in the parallel universe of refugees. Much different than Poverty Weekend, it is the most intense and physically challenging of all the Urban Encounter experiences. You will actually experience what it means to flee your homeland, move across the country in makeshift families under the control of human smugglers, build a refugee camp and survive in it, and apply for asylum in a host country. (Best for teens, or adults age 20-45 in good physical shape.)
WHY REFUGEE WEEKEND?
At any given point in time, there are between 25-50 million refugees on the move around the world, many with life experiences totally outside the realm of the average American Christian’s daily life. Many end up in the U.S. in our cities and live in our neighborhoods. It is doubtful that Christians can minister effectively in a community that they do not understand. “It is not good to have zeal without knowledge” (Prov 4). Regardless of how excited we are to minister to refugees, we must first be able to glimpse the world from which they have come.
WHAT DO YOU DO ON THE WEEKEND?
First, it is a simulation. You will be safe. Nevertheless, we do attempt to create, as realistically as possible, the actual experience of fleeing with your family from rebels. Your church leaders know what participants will experience, but participants will know very little of what they will experience ahead of time. This is by design. It is an experiential learning event that participants enter into by faith. Experiencing the unknown moment by moment is the experience of actual refugees. Events happen to you over which you have no control. You must think on your feet and learn to live “in the moment.”
Our director has over a decade of experience conducting immersion weekends with hundreds of people. The most common response is: “This is the most life-changing experience of my life.”
ENCOUNTER THE SYSTEM OF POVERTY
A 3-hour experience that gives a glimpse into the lives of low-income individuals, the obstacles faced, how decisions are made, and the consequences that impact these families every day.
C.O.P.E. (Cost Of Poverty Experience) has been used to help many organizations and communities across the nation work more effectively with low-income families by enabling them to understand and address the issues of poverty more comprehensively.
According to the U.S. Census, over 15 percent of the American population lives below the poverty line. However, this statistic does not capture the true costs of poverty. It does not portray the individual stories that are so common in low-income neighborhoods, nor does it convey poverty’s impact on families, businesses, or communities.
The Cost of Poverty Experience is an event that offers participants a glimpse into the lives of low-income individuals and families living in your community. It is a glimpse into the obstacles that are faced, the decisions that are made, and the consequences that impact these families every day. The CareSource Foundation has partnered with Think Tank to develop this relevant, up-to-date experience, which was co-designed with low-income individuals who shared their stories so that participants could gain greater understanding. C.O.P.E. has been used to help many organizations and communities across the nation work more effectively with low-income families and understand and address the issues of poverty more comprehensively.
This three-hour experiential event accommodates 30 to 80 participants.
ENCOUNTER THE NEIGHBORHOOD CHURCH
For church leaders. A 3-day incubator coupled with hands-on experiences designed specifically to help leaders see and understand transformational neighborhood church ministry in an urban context. Learn how to maximize gospel impact in the city through holistic ministry practices.
During this time you, your leadership team, and other church leaders will be given a front-row seat into what it takes to be a small- to medium-sized church and have a megachurch-sized impact on your community. The time will be facilitated by Providence Bible Church founding pastors Jason Janz and Juan Peña. Teaching sessions will cover the specific needs and circumstances involved in shepherding this kind of church, as well as best practices for maximizing Gospel engagement with your communities. These teaching sessions will be supplemented by hands-on exposure to development initiatives going on in the community. All of this will culminate in strategy sessions where each church will be coached to develop a Gospel engagement plan for your own communities.
This three-hour experiential event accommodates 30 to 80 participants.
ENCOUNTER THE CITY
A weeklong around-the-clock immersion in street-level mission that will challenge you and your team biblically, emotionally, relationally, and practically.
During your Urban Encounters week you will experience street-level mission that will challenge you at multiple levels: biblically, emotionally, relationally, and practically. The experience will equip you with a vision for racial reconciliation, ministry to the poor, and urban church planting showcased in the heart of Denver’s inner city. The week will be filled with spiritual formation, work projects in the community, and a 48-hour, around-the-clock poverty immersion that will transform your view of the poor as you enter their world. It may even alter the course of your life as you are exposed to urban ministry in the Mile High City.
A short overview of the details of your experience is below.
URBAN MINISTRY TRAINING
You will be spending most of your mornings doing urban ministry training. These are discussion-based teachings on God’s heart for the poor and marginalized. This is intended to give you an informed grid through which to see the city and by which to minister. Your quiet time schedule will be used to enhance and complement these times of our discussion.
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT MINISTRIES
You will be exposed to a variety of ministries focused on under-resourced communities such as ours. Our focus will be to show you that sustainable ministry among the poor primarily involves development ministries, not relief measures.
THE WORLD AT OUR DOOR – REFUGEE MINISTRY
One of the unique opportunities God has given the Church in most urban areas across the nation is the bringing of the nations to our doorstep. Citizens from many countries where it is difficult or impossible for missionaries to enter are coming to the US for a variety of reasons, as students or as refugees seeking asylum. During your time here, you will learn about refugee populations and some of the dynamics of being culturally competent in order to build bridges of kingdom relationships.
YOUTH MINISTRY IN THE HOOD
Youth ministry in the city is a parallel universe compared to many suburban contexts. Learn what it takes to be not only biblically competent, but socially and culturally competent among youth in challenging contexts.
The around-the-clock 48-hour poverty immersion experience is designed to give you practical exposure to the world of urban poverty and homelessness. God’s heart for the poor and marginalized leaks out of practically every chapter of the Bible, and yet in much of the conservative evangelical world we have ignored those passages. You will experience how it feels to live in a community surrounded by wealth while struggling to feed, shelter, and clothe yourself and your family.
This unique poverty simulation is designed to help educate participants about the realities of our world in need, God’s heart for the poor, and how we can better live out God’s call for us to connect with the poor. Expect to be stretched out of your comfort zone and to face your own materialism, cultural values, and need to refocus on biblical mandates.
Our hope is that participants will leave this experience with “new eyes, ears, and hearts ” for the needs of the poor in their own community, our nation, and the world.
All participants in the group must be 14 years of age or older, and must have completed at least 8th grade. The participants are never alone and are always under supervision. Please refer to the FAQ for the poverty simulation in the resource section. Consideration may be given for structuring a unique experience for a group that wants families to participate together with younger children.
Please contact Urban Encounters Denver for more details.