Shalom from Tel Aviv!
Our congregation has just concluded what we consider a fantastic Messianic Jewish Conference in Israel.
Dan Juster, of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations in North America, spoke on "How to Establish Strong Congregations in Israel".
Israel's Hope, a fine Messianic singing group from Juster's congregation led us in worship and concert - Israeli style! That means a lot of singing, dancing, clapping and praising God. (Much like King David when entering into Jerusalem).
Over 400 people registered for the conference from all over Israel, and a new sense of unity between some of the different congregations was established. N.B.C. filmed the conference for a news item on Messianic Jews in Israel.
Dan Juster's teaching was so enlightening that we wanted to give you a taste of his tremendous insight.
Israel's congregations are all in the pioneering stage, with many challenges and mountains to overcome. So this teaching was made to order for Israeli congregations.
However, because these truths are universal, we believe they will be helpful to you. Here then, is a small section of Dan's teaching.
HOW TO PLANT MESSIANIC JEWISH CONGREGATIONS
All believers are called to seek the Kingdom of God first and to give their whole life as a living sacrifice -- to live not for selfishness, but to live for the sake of the love of God in us. But that commitment to God's Kingdom is primarily expressed in commitment to the life of the Congregation. For God is seeking to build Congregations to manifest His presence. It is against Congregations that the gates of Hell will not prevail!
Now, I understand that Yeshua meant the Universal Congregation in Matthew 16. But Yeshua's universal Congregation does its work in local expressions, called "local Congregations". The establishment of Congregations is therefore God's hub of His Kingdom manifestation today. So, building up a Congregational Movement for Yeshua is the call of us all. How do we build up a Congregational Movement? Ephesians 4:7,11-13 says:
"But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of the Messiah's gift... And He gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelist, some pastors, and teachers, for the equipping of the saints (believers), for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Messiah, until we all come to the unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Messiah..."
This is a passage about leadership. This passage speaks about five kinds of leaders, or perhaps five functions of leaders, if a leader operates in more than one function. It is my belief that all the people who function in these capacities are at least elders, and therefore that they must meet the criteria of elders in I Timothy, chapter 3. All leadership in the Body of believers is servant-leadership. These are functions: apostles, prophets, evangelist, teachers and pastors - not titles.
THESE FUNCTIONS ARE NOT GLORIFIED POSITIONS
Yeshua said, "Call no man Rabbi, call no man Father, call no man Teacher" -- what did He mean by that? He meant that believers were to avoid honorific titles. It is so easy for us to get ego-gratification out of honorific titles. "Here is Apostle So-in-So" -- or "Here is the Right Reverend Such-and-Such". You know, in English it's very interesting that in some churches those who are leaders want to be called "Bishop", because the word has certain "magic" qualities to it and not, "Overseer", which is its English translation. If you use the English translation, the aura is gone!
Somebody asked John Wimber, a famous congregation planter in the United States, "What do you call yourself?" He said, "John has always worked very well!" So understand that I'm not talking about positions of renown and prominence when we talk of this chapter.
It would be good for you to take the time to read the qualifications for elders and deacons, and note that these qualifications are very high (I Tim 3). Let me share my conviction with you that the governing leaders in a Congregation are to fulfill these criteria: They must be lovers of God. If they are married they must be the spiritual leaders of their home; they must be servant leaders in their family. They must be spiritually mature, showing that they live a godly life. And when you have believers like this in charge of the governance of a Congregation, there is a security and a growth that can come into a Congregation.
THE PRACTICAL FUNCTIONS OF THESE FIVE FOLD GIFTS
What are these five functions that are necessary to build strong Congregations? I believe that all five exist today. What is the apostle? The apostle is one whose job it is to lay foundations in planting Congregations. It is to strengthen Congregations, and it is to shepherd leaders. It is not a function that is primarily local, but it looks beyond the local to other Congregations.
Note, I'm not speaking of apostles with a capital "A" -- I'm speaking of a function. The role of the twelve Apostles and those that were added to their circles is unrepeatable -- they were the eye-witnesses to the Resurrection, and laid the foundations of our revelation in the New Testament. I'm not talking about people who have the right to add to Scripture -- I'm talking about a function for the sake of the Body of believers, as I described it.
We have reserved the word "apostles" in some circles to just the capital "A" Apostles, and therefore have been poor for not recognizing the need to see the function of planting and strengthening leaders as crucial! It's a function, it shouldn't be a big deal to us! If we say, "Oh, he's an apostle, wow!" - It's just off! It's not intended to be that way at all.
Then secondly, there is the prophet. A prophet is somebody who has a clarity of vision and hearing directly from God. When you work with a prophet, they always seem to be ten steps ahead of everybody else! The relationship of the five-fold other ministries to the prophet is to say "woe -- hold back there a little bit!" If a prophet-type person is put in leadership over a
Community, without having others balance him, he'll wear everybody out. I know, because I've worked with one, and he's worn me out, and I had to hold him back. But a prophet burns with concern for righteousness and to see that there is vision and direction that moves things forward.
Then an evangelist burns with a heart for the lost -- he eats, drinks and sleeps seeing people coming to a knowledge of God! An evangelist person frustrates other people, because he seems to analyze everything in terms of whether or not it's useful in saving souls! We're going to have a fellowship group to pray for one another's needs" -- the evangelist is likely to see no value in that, because who's going to get saved out of that?
I have two evangelists around me that practically drive me bananas! We are never doing enough to save the lost to the evangelist.
And then you have the pastor, and the pastor wants to get everybody healed. He wants the sheep to flock together! He wants them to be at peace, he wants there to be good feeling among the people and happiness and success. The pastor feels the pain of the people! And he identifies with them and seeks to bring them healing. And if anybody is hurting, he hurts, and his goal is to see people walk in a successful life of godliness, to see people become what they can be in the Lord. The shepherd's heart is a tender, loving heart.
Then there is the teacher -- this is where I began. Now, I have a pastor's heart too and I do some apostolic traveling -- I really do care about people deeply, that's why I entered this service, and I feel for people. But the primary motivation in my life is teaching -- I love blackboards and chalk, classrooms and students -- I love to teach! And I can understand teachers very easily.
Teachers want you to have a full understanding of the teachings of the Word in an orderly way… and that's why they're so long in speech! But they feel that unless you know the Word from beginning to end, you may get tripped up from something you don't know! And he's concerned for the stability and maturity of leadership in the Body of believers.
Ephesians, Chapter 4, is speaking about the gift ministries that are foundational. We call this "foundational gift ministries." When solid foundations are laid, it's like a launching pad that can launch the Body of believers into its work.
EQUIPING THE BODY THROUGH THESE FUNCTIONS
But, the goal is to equip the believers for the work of ministry. A prophetic person does not just prophesy, but he transfers his prophetic gift to the Body. Out of the prophet's presence in the Body, others will begin to prophesy. People begin to become a prophetic people. Individuals begin to have prophetic visions for their lives. They begin to be charged with vision and direction and excitement! A prophet produces a prophetic people, whereas Joel said, "Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions, and on your menservants and your maidservants will I pour out My Spirit."
The prophet has a major task in bringing that about in the Community of believers. And so it has been prophetic people who have done that in our midst. But prophets sometimes don't have the patience to see through the details -- they see it, and run on too fast, so they need to be in relationship to the other four to stay balanced.
The evangelist is a paramount witness and he is a tremendous public creature of the Good News. But more important than that, he transfers his heart for the lost to the Community, and he turns them into zealous witnessing people, because his heart and example rub off on the whole Community.
And the shepherd doesn't only do the, work of pastoring, but he transfers his heart to the Community so that the Community becomes caring, and they begin to care for one another's needs, they begin to have a heart for the hurting, and they desire to bring healing, success and joy and peace to others.
And the teacher is not just to be there so you can hear his eloquence, but to produce a taught Congregation. Because a well taught people can teach one another, when a new person comes into the Community, just by being with the people that are there he gets taught!
In God's order of Congregational life, it is by having an adequate input of the five-fold ministry, that the believers are equipped for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the Body of the Messiah. And the passage goes on to say that we may become mature -- that we wouldn't be tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine! And then it goes on to say that the whole Body is joined and knit together by what every joint supplies according to the effective working by which each part does its share. Or in the New International Version, each part does its work.
Now I want you to catch this because it is central: Membership in the Body of believers is not where you attend, although where you attend is important. It is not where you give your tithes, although giving your tithes is important. It is where you submit to be equipped to do the work! It is where you submit to be trained!
And the ideal of God is that nobody is sitting on the bench, but that everybody is in the game, because maturity comes when we are equipped and working. Now, by application, we need to recognize the needs of each Congregation. If they don't have these five existing locally, they need to bring people in from the outside who can equip them in that gift area. And if a Congregation is so strong that it does have all five, it needs to send some out to equip those who don't. Your Congregations in Israel all need to be equipped by all five types of functions, that you might grow into maturity.
A Personal Note from Ari and Shira
You our readers, our supporters in prayer and finances, have an intrical part in this conference and all of the other wonderful things that Maoz is participating in today in Israel. We share this photograph with you, so you can rejoice with us knowing that you have a part in this work. Your reward will be great.
However, as thrilled and amazed as we are for what is happening, all of us here realize we are only at the start of the great and mighty revival that will fall on this nation in the coming years. Because the Bible says so.
Be a part of it with us. Pray and share with us one of your most precious commodities - TIME, as you stand in the gap for the
Nation of Israel, and for the congregations in the Land.
Share what God has given you with the people of Israel. They themselves will thank you when that Day comes.
"And I say to you, make friends for yourself by means of the money of unrighteousness; that when it fails, they (those touched by your giving) may receive you unto the eternal dwellings." Luke 16:9
We thank you with all our hearts for working together with us. If you would like Dan Juster's tapes, they are available with a Hebrew translation.
For the Lost Sheep of Israel,
Ari and Shira Sorko-Ram