Growing Healthy Messianic Congregations in San Antonio
From October 17-19, 2015, Word of Messiah held a “Growing Healthy Messianic Congregations Conference” in San Antonio, TX. What was this conference all about? Find out in this interview with Sam:
– What do you do at a “Growing Healthy Messianic Congregations Conference”?
Our goal at Word of Messiah is to see more healthy Messianic congregations established among Jewish people worldwide. The focus of our conferences, therefore, is to train congregation planters in their work of establishing new Messianic congregations. These conferences are also geared for established Messianic leaders, to assist them in the development of their congregations and to provide training in how they can reproduce, developing new Messianic congregations to reach more people with the Good News! The most important part, however, happens after the conference, as the leaders apply what they have learned in their own lives and congregations.
– What was the focus of the San Antonio conference?
All of our conferences have the same goals, but each one has a slightly different focus depending on the needs of the planters and leaders in a certain area. This conference focused on specific leadership development. In developing leaders to oversee various ministries in a congregation, one must give instruction in order to set an expectation, and then follow-up with inspection to ensure the instruction is being carried out.
– How was this conference helpful for new congregation planters? What about for established Messianic leaders?
Throughout the conference, specific instruction was given to new congregation planters in regards to the first steps that must be taken in order to see their congregations established on solid biblical footing.
The established Messianic leaders were given a framework for which to review areas that are working well in their congregations and give guidance in addressing those that may not be as functional in light of the overall biblical model of a healthy congregation. This was vital as one must first appreciate what is already working well, leveraging what is strong to be able to address what is weak.
As a Messianic leader, it’s easy to get caught up in the issues and difficulties of day to day life, and all of us need to be reminded that these issues can only be addressed by keeping our eyes on the Lord. These leaders were encouraged and challenged to renew their vision and to look to Yeshua, the only One who can give us what we need to fulfill our calling.
– Why are conferences like this important for the Messianic movement today? What needs do they address?
The Messianic movement is a young movement of God. It was started by pioneers who “stepped out of the boat,” and established congregations that would become living testimonies to the greater Jewish community in their cities. These pioneers have great entrepreneurial strength to begin new things and therefore may also need greater coaching and encouragement as they develop their congregations, especially in regards to infrastructure and leadership development, and in the establishment and maintenance of ongoing evangelism and disciple making.
Our conferences address every area of congregation planting, from the preliminary considerations for the planter and his family, to the development of materials for both evangelism and discipleship, to the development of strategies for outreach, to the essentials for talmidut (discipleship), to the paradigm detailing how evangelism moves into disciple making, member making, and finally to leader making in order to build up a congregation.
At our conferences, the vital importance of prayer at all stages of the planting process is addressed. Emphasized over and over again is the fact that discipleship is not mere instruction, but rather application. We train leaders to not merely teach people about prayer, but to pray!
– Through the conference, what did you see that encouraged you about the Messianic community in Texas?
As I interacted with the leaders at the conference, I was encouraged to see that the disunity which is sadly normative in many Messianic communities was being addressed and greater unity was being developed among those involved. I was also encouraged to see younger leaders embracing the biblical model for healthy congregations and desiring to incorporate this into their service as they assist older leaders. Throughout the conference, there was much collaboration as the leaders came together for a common purpose.
– What one piece of encouragement would you give to a Messianic congregation planter just starting out?
Be faithful to your calling, for He will be faithful to fulfill all you need for your calling.
Here is some of the feedback we have received from the conference:
“This conference was phenomenal and a great learning experience for our congregation. It was very important for us and impactful as we are an older congregation and really needed “a shot in the arm” regarding a refreshed vision of the place and purpose of a Messianic congregation. I appreciated the focus on discipleship and the practical guidance in how to move forward in implementing the things learned at the conference in our congregation.”
– Rabbi Randy Shapiro, Congregation Beth Simcha, San Antonio, TX
“For someone who’s not yet in congregational leadership, Sam provided a roadmap for how to get there, backed with tremendous amounts of experience and expertise.”
– Jack N.
“This conference was very helpful for me as a Messianic leader. The most important thing I got from it is the vital importance of prayer and discipleship for people in the congregation.
I would definitely recommend other Messianic leaders to attend future WMM conferences. When we as leaders start thinking we understand everything and are ok running things on our own, this is dangerous. Sam’s ability to relate and apply Scripture to the matter of how to build and structure a Messianic congregation is excellent.”
– Billy Washburn, Shearit Yisrael, Poteet, TX
“I am following-up on what I learned at the conference, reading the handbook and surveying my notes. My wife and I are already discussing the first step we went over: prayer in the home. Another leader who came to the conference has expressed some regret that the other 2 leaders in his Beit Din (leadership team) did not attend and wishes that others in his congregation could hear these principles explained. Sam does a great job in explaining the main principles of why we exist as Messianic believers.”
– Trini Rodriguez, Shoresh David Messianic Congregation, San Antonio, TX