Conquering Covid – Messianic Conference
By Marianela Leekley
When news of the country’s shutdown hit earlier this year in March, many thought it would be weeks, or even a few months before we would be able to return to normal. But here we are, eight months later, still facing restrictions of various kinds. We’ve seen that the individuals who contract Covid-19 and are in general good health seem to fare well, while those with underlying conditions take longer to recover.
We (and perhaps you) have observed this same principle to be the case with congregations. The congregations that were spiritually and functionally healthy before the virus hit have experienced minimal impairment, have adjusted to the new climate, and have found a way to thrive; while the congregations that had pre-existing conditions have had those issues rise to the surface and now find themselves struggling.
What does a leader do when he finds himself in this predicament? How do leaders maintain a healthy Messianic congregation when their people cannot meet, or are afraid of meeting? And for the truly brave, how can one even think of planting a new Messianic congregation when the community they’re trying to reach is behind closed doors?
These questions and many other topics were all addressed by Sam Nadler at our November “Developing Healthy Messianic Congregations” online conference. Leaders and spouses from seven U.S. states came together to learn not just how to plant and maintain Messianic congregations, but to do so while having robust discipleship and evangelism in light of Covid and government restrictions.
A constant theme throughout the weekend was being a fearless and proactive leader. Whether it is in evangelism, discipleship, membership, oversight, or the various issues that arise from secondary issues, Sam encouraged each leader to fight passivity wherever it shows up. We are to provoke one another to good works (Hebrews 10:24), and that means calling up your members, encouraging them to be faithful witnesses wherever and however they can, and not forsaking fellowship.
Though some may have a need to be extra cautious for their own health’s sake, it is not to be used as an excuse to not be involved. When a leader knows there is a need or a problem, they must address it. Though the leader may not be the one to solve it, proper leadership must show proper response. If not, improper leadership will step in and problems will be sure to follow. It is the leadership who must give an account to the Lord for the souls of those whom they shepherd; apathy and paralysis are not an option!
As is his routine with all conferences, the week prior to meeting, Sam takes time to call each leader in order to discuss their reasons for attending and to pray with them and their spouse. When attendees find out he will be calling to pray with them, they are always surprised to learn the level of care and concern that Sam has for each person. He truly does desire to be a help to congregational planters and leaders; after all, it is the focus of the majority of Word of Messiah’s printed materials. And for any who attend these conferences, he continues to make himself available to each leader for further coaching. Several who attended this past weekend have already begun this mentoring process with Sam!
It is our great privilege to work with each of these attendees who range from new planters to seasoned leaders. The feedback was positive and appreciated, and each commented that they felt like they received more than what they came for. Some expressed a desire to make the conference longer next time! From Toby Mann in Maryland: “We appreciated all the practical stories and information that were provided over the weekend; what stood out most was the importance of a strong process of membership. Another thing that was really enlightening was identifying primary issues… Overall, we felt so many lightbulbs going off… to be able to identify and name these things is appreciated, but more so, being able to see the road and process needed to address, change and make us a healthier congregation makes us so excited.”
From Mark Harris in Michigan: “We appreciate your passion and how you deliver it, and we know we have a lot of work ahead of us, but we’re ready and eager to chomp into it. Thank you very much for all the work you put into this!”
For others, like Brian from Rhode Island, the idea of strengthening their discipleship among members was key, and the conference helped him recognize how he can utilize both the strengths and weaknesses of his congregation to the glory of God in an actionable plan.
Why do we have Developing Healthy Messianic Congregations Conferences? Because it simply isn’t being done anywhere else. No other conference is teaching Messianic leaders and planters how to troubleshoot problem areas. No one is instructing them on how to grow a vibrant and effective congregation that is able to transition its members from discipleship into leadership. No one is preparing them to ensure their congregation is healthy so that they can replicate it elsewhere and plant new congregations in areas that desperately need them!
This is the heart of Word of Messiah Ministries. We exist to bring the Good News of Yeshua to the lost sheep of the House of Israel, and we will seek to take hold of every opportunity the Lord gives us to that end. Whether it is through individually reaching the lost, or strategically empowering others to reach the lost, we are laser focused in this pursuit.
As 2020 comes to a close, we are thankful to the Lord that He keeps providing the opportunity for us to train leaders around the world who carry the burden of God’s heart: to bring the Good News of Yeshua to the Jew first, and equally to the Gentile. Please keep us in your prayers as we seek new opportunities to broaden this aspect of the ministry to Messianic leaders. Yes, this world is changing, but we are eager to use whatever new avenues the Lord provides to keep proclaiming the goodness of God through His Son, Yeshua, the Messiah of Israel and the world.