Report from Messianic Leadership Conference in Tampa
Change. We all encounter this overwhelming reality daily. God’s Word has much to say on this subject, as it points us to trust in the One who will never change. Looking to Him, it’s possible to remain stable, and to oversee effective Messianic ministry in the midge of change.
From January 8th – 11th, Sam and Miriam travelled to Tampa, FL, where a group of 23 Messianic leaders from several congregations in the Tampa area came together to the Shoresh David Messianic Synagogue for a day of intense ministry training. The theme for this leadership conference was: “Ch-ch-ch-Changes: Victoriously Handling Paradigm Shifts.”
On Friday morning, Sam met with several Messianic leaders, to encourage them in their ministry, and discuss with them how to plan in the midst of change as they lead their growing congregations. Later, over lunch, Sam had the opportunity to mentor a young, dynamic Jewish believer in matters of faith.
Saturday brought new opportunities for ministry as members of the conference host congregation, Shoresh David Messianic Synagogue, came together for their Shabbat worship service. Sam taught on Psalm 133:1-3.
At the end of the message, three people: a young person, and two adults, responded to the invitation to accept Yeshua as their Messiah! Pray that they will grow in their new relationship with God as they’re discipled through their congregation.
Sunday was the day of the conference. Some of the Messianic leaders who attended are involved in new congregation plants, and others find themselves in the midst of unexpected changes. Sam addressed their questions on what to do in the midst of change by pointing them to God’s Word. In Genesis 1:26, before God created, He spoke: “Then God said…” Communication precedes creation. Leaders need to be in continual communication with those in their stewardship about the changes that are taking place, and then to assure them of the things that will never change. Changes in life are always a test of communication and love. They reveal a person’s true priorities: when there is enough time to accomplish everything, there’s no problem, but in a time crunch, true priorities are then revealed.
Sam covered three main priorities that leaders need to ensure will never change in order for the congregation to function in a healthy manner:
- The functioning of the congregation: The 3 basic responsibilities of a healthy congregation – prayer, the Word, and oversight – are seen throughout Scripture. The ministry of the Word is evidenced outside the congregation as evangelism, and inside as edification.
- The 3 essential responsibilities of congregational leadership: The work of leading the flock, making disciples, and the sharing of Messiah needs to remain constant in season and out.
- Strategic planning: Plans to address changes that come about to maintain growth and health.
Break-out sessions for men and women were held in the afternoon. Miriam led a session where the women spoke about the need to have effective discipleship and classes for women, as well as children of all ages in their congregations. “As women, we need to be leading in the teaching and discipling of other women even through changes.”
Sam led a session on discipling men in the congregation to be leaders in their homes, as a congregation is no stronger than the families represented in it. “From the beginning, God called men to be leaders, to initiate leaving and cleaving in order to maintain unity in their homes. This type of leading, however, is rare to find even in believing households today, as sin brought about a role reversal in the home.” The congregational leaders were exhorted in ways to intentionally disciple and strengthen men to take their role as leaders according to God’s Word, not giving in to cultural pressure and expectations of this “present evil age” (Gal. 1:3).
The day ended with many expressions of appreciation from both the men and the women for the teaching they received. They agreed that the instruction and discussions addressed different issues they are encountering in their congregations. The Lord answered prayers as these leaders left with practical tools and renewed perspective, to continue to persevere through the testing brought about by change
Rabbi Steve Weiler, head of Shoresh David Messianic Synagogue, shared his feedback on the conference: “Your conference on congregational planning was excellent. It got me thinking about how I administrate everything. The other leaders who were there have expressed similar thoughts and believe we received much information in order to become healthier congregations.”
Ron Leef, elder at Shoresh David also said, “Given the different leadership roles and congregational dynamics of our group, you did an excellent job objectively presenting material that was relevant to us all, for present and future, individual and congregational development! You masterfully addressed leadership issues, in an unassuming and inoffensive way, which was unique and sensitive to different individuals and congregations.”
In the midst of change, it’s all too easy to lose vision as a leader. This leads to stunted growth in personal and congregational life. The leaders attending this conference were challenged to look to Yeshua in order to gain perspective beyond their changing circumstances, and to continue the process of leading others in being conformed to Messiah’s image, adjusting to changes as they come.
Please continue to pray as Word of Messiah continues to advance the unchanging Good News in the midst an ever changing world.