Reader Responses - Building a Discipling Community
by Dan Juster, Director, Tikkun Ministries International
TO "BUILDING A
By Daniel Juster, Director
Editor's note: The number of responses to Dan's January 2013 article was unusually large. We felt that our general newsletter community would enjoy the dialogue. The readers' comments are prefaced by a short summary of the article.
"BUILDING A DISCIPLING COMMUNITY"
Many in our day, especially among the younger generation, have given up the quest to build community in the Messiah. Yet, the Bible is very clear: The Gospel of the Kingdom is to be expressed in congregational communities under the authority of legitimate elders. This community is to be a worshipping, praying and discipling community where members are both mutually accountable to each other and accountable to elder overseers. Yeshua declares that He will establish His congregation and "the gates of hell will not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18).
There are many reasons why young people are abandoning the faith and - if they do not totally abandon the faith - they are abandoning long-term commitment in congregational life. Two are: Western individualism and the lack of an enriching communal experience.
How does it make a difference in the lives of people? A community vision can only inspire the younger generation if they see how it makes a difference. If the congregational community does not have strong discipling patterns, those who grow up in it will view it as ineffective.
How does it make a difference in the world? In a Biblical vision of community, the congregants are trained in Kingdom principles which have a tangible effect on their vocations in all spheres of society.
We allow our young people to be acculturated to the world. In addition, we tend to send our young people to public and secular schools from childhood through college-age, that are indoctrinating them in secular relativism (i.e. there is no real truth in religion and ethics).
So what can we do? The answer begins in prayer. Only a mighty move of the Spirit can reverse this. We must pray for a move that reveals the nature of the community to which we are called and leads us to do it.
Father Nicholas M., D.Min. - As Cardinal Newman put it, the church is an organic entity, whose doctrine and life grows and proceeds by processes similar to nature. The 20th century corporate model of existence has little resemblance to the Creator's intention for human beings, and to try to imitate that mutant model of life in the church is of even greater concern. You hit it on the head, Dan...keep up the good work!
Hannah - I do so agree with what you have said, and pray for such a move of the Spirit which will enable us to live in such a way that brings honor to our GOD and envy and longing to those who do not yet know HIM.
Rittie - After having committed pretty much my entire believing life to this quest ... I now favor the model of small groups of people breaking bread and sharing life. I want to see people in love with Yeshua and each other. It is my conviction that we will grow into His image supernaturally naturally.
Dr. Juster replies: While I do not reject the value of larger meetings and celebrations, the meeting in the house was the most basic model in the first century.
Gloria P. - This is soooo "on target." Our "church" is working on community, starting last year. Pastor is teaching this. My prayer is not only that all Israel be saved, but that the Messianic Community becomes ... as it should be: the church of the Book of Acts ...
F.D. - Looking forward to having these principles of real community achieved here in Australia.
JerryAnn B. - Even church has become a lonely place! The expository word listened to only goes so far to meet the cry of the heart for communion with one another! I love that the Holy Spirit is starting to call a new kind of fellowship into being. I have been hungry for this!
S.R. - I came to Israel to fulfill Elohim's call upon my life. As a child, I knew Israel to be my homeland. When I arrived, I met believers at a local congregation. I also saw many needs not addressed by the brethren ... I agree with all you have written about. Yet, my own experience has caused me to withdraw from organized community. I miss the community and the inter-action and life found within a vibrant community but I walk this land with Adonai.
Dr. Juster replies: I too have seen the great need for maturing here. Some new small groups are very good. We are working on a small one.
Jay A. - Since Israel is the head (Deut. 28:13), it seems the biblical pattern you write of will come to pass in churches in the West as well. I agree that prayer is vital to this movement ... the message is gaining ground.
Kathleen - My heart gives a hearty "AMEN!" to this article. For a long time I&'ve been burdened by the lack of strong discipleship for young believers and the young generation. In previous years, I had the privilege to disciple a number of children, youth and young adult women. The joy of experiencing Christian community has been a blessing in just the past seven years through language school and home church fellowships. Praying that Adonai opens up doors for these real New Covenant dynamics to multiply in His land and spread throughout His Body in the earth...
John P. - I can agree whole heartedly ... A local [church] has torn out the altar and platform area ... Large screen televisions and loud-speakers are replacing a place of reverence and sacrifice ... Thank God Almighty that I can meet Him, speak with Him, and hear from Him at my own living room table and on my knees in prayer in my home! If we seek Him out, He will be found!
Abby C. - I would like a definition of "religious event manufacturing corporation" ... What is community ... to live, physically, near one another[?] ...
Dr. Juster replies: Community begins in small groups and shared life. The term "Religious Event Manufacturing Corporation" is really quite clear in my mind: It means that we are putting on a show for the saints, but have little in community life and discipleship.
Steve - I have these exact feelings about churches and messianic synagogues where I live in the US. I have experienced great disappointment and ... have been unable find even one or two men that I have enough in common with to build lasting relationships [for] the type of community and fellowship the Bible speaks of. I have decided to shift my efforts and focus on my first ministry priority, which is my wife and kids. I have found peace and enjoy creating closer relationships with my wife and kids than I ever have within any congregation.
Dr. Juster replies: The call to build the extended family of congregation can still take place when the Spirit brings change. However, it requires a group that is all out for the Lord and wants to seriously obey him (and incidentally, friendship can grow even without a lot in common).
Jacque H. - You are so right about discipling and reaching into the communities. I am so tired of playing church. My spirit is so restless and bored with it. I want the Word, reaching out to the communities with the love of Yeshua and the life of hope.
Lisa S. - ... I have been looking for an organic, Acts-type community and they are out there, but few and far between. However, I believe this is a movement of the Holy Spirit in this age and we will see more and more. You can't mature apart from community.
Glenn - ... The emerging church, the monastic communities and many other new models have been noted as seeking to build the life-together-model Bonhoeffer described ... Not many of the 20s age group [is attracted] to the baby-boomers model that defined the seeker-sensitive movement.
Suzanna - Very truly said ... If members in a congregation are working in the area of their giftings, that will bring deep satisfaction to their participation and "fellowship" - which should be spelled "friendship" i.e. knowing, caring, praying, accepting, helping when needed, and really loving in Yeshua ...
Richard B. - I could not agree more! Community is such a missing, yet an integral part of the Kingdom mission. It cannot be fulfilled without community. John 17:23b "... that they be perfected in unity that the world may know that Thou didst send Me, and didst love them as Thou didst love Me." I am reading a great book by Andy Stanley called "Creating Community" ... In our church, we are slowly getting the picture. The Spirit of God is moving His Body into community in preparation for what is to come.
Lorraine B. - Identifying the cracks in a vessel is the first step in repairing the vessel. Much to pray about and put into practice.
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