CASTING OUR NET
Martin Shoub

The Network Council:
Guy, Moshe, Eitan, Eric and Leon
The Hebrew word for network, reshet; is the same word we use for a fisherman's net, a lattice or a screen. What is a net but strands of rope tied in a pattern that holds together with strength and versatility? Cut one of the connecting knots and the strength and integrity of the whole is lost. Casting a ball of string into the water won't catch you much, but tying off that same string into a net can yield a harvest of fish.

When people ask me to define Tents of Mercy, I sometimes hesitate because the name lends its moniker to more than one entity. Tents of Mercy is a Messianic Jewish congregation in Kiryat Yam; it is also a registered Israeli charity delivering humanitarian aid; but first and foremost it is a network - a network of congregations and congregational leaders.

Once a month Eitan convenes a network council of congregational leaders: Moshe Morrison from Tents of Mercy, Leon Mazin from Shavei Tsion and Netzer HaGalil, Guy Cohen from Harvest of Asher and Eric Morey from Kehilat Poriyah. These men come together under Eitan's apostolic leadership to build one another up, share resources, sort through congregational and personal issues and keep one another accountable before God.

The network grew organically as Leon and Guy launched out to plant new congregations, but Eitan has sought to guide the process according to the pattern laid down for us in Acts. Eitan explained, Our inspiration and model is the Book of Acts. Here is the record of the last time indigenous congregations were planted in Israel. Planting covenant communities was their central activity. It is an awesome and humbling opportunity to take part in the resurrection of apostolic life and faith. In our simple way we are following this path one step at a time.

THE CHALLENGE OF DISCIPLESHIP

Making disciples incorporates a broad range of activities. There is no simple cookie-cutter formula but discipleship only grows within community and through relationship. To that end, Eitan and the network leadership team have sought to be intentional in working together. Eitan recalled, I have been so proud of how the guys have launched out on their own, their creativity and entrepreneurial vision have surpassed my abilities but they have been the ones to insist that we stay connected together. Each of us has his own leadership style. We don't do things the same way. But I love that.

Eitan likens his spiritual "fathering" to his experience as a father both of adult and teenage children. As a father I have gained insight into the deep need of every person growing up to receive respect and nurturing from their parents without the sort of domination that hinders people from being who God created them to be. These are the qualities that I attempt to instill in our larger spiritual family. It is really like seeing your kids grow up; each of them develops uniquely - yet with portions of your DNA.

Just as with every network, relationship brings strength but it also brings challenges. Fathering is a balancing act between encouraging, letting go and setting firm boundaries. A spiritual leader seeking to disciple others needs to keep these dynamics in tension without ego or personal preference getting in the way. For disciples, mutual submission and staying under authority requires humility and grace. Daniel Juster connects to our network in another loop of relationship, tying him in with Eitan and Asher Intrater. Indeed, this magazine reflects the interconnectedness of these ministries and the mutual commitment to stay tied together.

THE ESSENTIALS

Dan has a gift to cut through broad issues to lay hold of what is essential. He has written a brief statement of covenant to help focus our mutual commitment to each other. He divided the key elements into eight points (perhaps we can convince Dan to write an article about this) but is quick to point out that if we can hold to his first point we come a long way towards fulfilling all eight. That is, We covenant together to build committed relationships and loving mutual support. This includes cultivating the openness and humility that can receive mutual correction. Dan notes, You can build an organization without friendship but relational unity is the key to success in congregations. We need to move past business to sharing our lives together.

This is how the other members of the network council look at this vital connection:

The larger network meeting for training
Moshe Morrison: My expertise (beyond telling jokes) is to contribute from my years of experience to help the younger guys lead their congregations. Our experiences as shepherds are common to us all.

Leon Mazin: There are many important things we must do but first there must be friendship. When we have open and honest friendship together the other tasks fall into place.

Guy Cohen: David and Jonathan are my example. They were not in competition - they committed themselves to help each other reach their calling. The love of God shall always be between us.

Eric Morey: We hadn't expected to plant a congregation but when the Lord led us to move forward we needed to be in relationship with people we could trust and respect, and who could hold us accountable.

Our commitment to relationship extends beyond the apostolic/pastoral connection. Our broader leadership teams from our five congregations also meet together every month for fellowship, mutual encouragement and instruction. Our larger connection is intended to provide ministry tools and inspiration for developing leaders in our congregations. Discipleship means multiplication and new leaders growing in maturity and giftedness.

THE FUTURE

Relationships also look towards the future. Eitan is passionate about investing himself in young leaders but would like to see us improve our ability to provide intentional and systematic training. We have been pretty organic in our approach but a growing network needs some sort of training center for all dimensions of spiritual service. New congregations are also on the horizon and Eitan anticipates others will want to join us in working together in God's purposes and plans for Israel.

Dan teaching at our network meeting
Looking down the road, Eitan also envisions children's camps and elementary school education; he foresees the growing movement having an impact on the entire nation. Our young people need to move into the professional streams of Israeli society. I expect them to take up roles in business, education, culture and government. This is vital for the movement. I also see a continued role for teachers and veteran leaders from outside the country helping equip us for what God is doing. I believe this is what Isaiah saw when he said, "Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks." (Isaiah 61:5)

As we emulate the pattern of the first Messianic Jews recorded in the Book of Acts we look to God to increase His presence and power among us. Eitan concluded: To be truly apostolic we must see signs and wonders. We have barely begun to see this dimension. I am convinced that an awareness and public response to Yeshua through the Messianic community will increase. I envision the day when tens of thousands of Israelis will embrace Yeshua.

In preparation for that day God is tying us together into a net that will hold through the strain and haul in an overflowing catch.

 

By Martin Shoub



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Comments
Comments:
10:00 03Mar08 Donna Diorio -
This is a true model for apostolic ministry in Israel -- not just solo ministries, but a growing community of ministries with relationship and vision knitted all together. It is inspiring to watch you all expanding the tent pegs! 19:23 06Mar08 anonymous -
I really just have a question regarding this article. I am an elementary teacher preparing for early retirement from public schools. I attend a Messianic congregation in the states and love Israel and the Jewish people. What exactly is Eitan envisioning concerning teachers from the States in support of God's work there? My heart grabbed onto this and desires to know.

  -- Marty Shoub replies: Eitan's reference to a "continued role for teachers and veteran leaders from outside the country" was made in context of the blessing and benefit to the Body of Messiah in Israel from the ministry of spiritual leaders from outside the country. Eitan was not commenting on the public education system in Israel.


Also in this issue of the newsletter:

Dan Juster: Who Can We Trust To Teach Us?
Eitan Shishkoff: The End Is Near! So What?
Eddie Santoro: Sharing The Light In Jerusalem