Southwest 2018 Planters Conference
By Sam Nadler
Word of Messiah’s “Developing Healthy Messianic Congregations Conference was conducted in Phoenix, Arizona on February 11-12, 2018. It was hosted at Arrowhead Messianic Congregation and attended by Messianic leaders from Texas to Southern California, all of whom love Yeshua and want to see the Good News proclaimed to all people, even “to the Jew first and also to the Gentile” (Romans 1:16).
A week earlier, I had contacted the various leaders to pray with them, and understand the strengths in the ministries (so their strengths can assist those that need help in those same areas), and what areas for them need ‘special attention’ as well. After praying with each of them, I then reorganized the whole presentation and materials to more fully address each of their areas of need during the conference. In that way each leader can return home with a plan to further reach out to the greater Jewish community around them.
Admittedly, since it is a ministry training conference and not a relaxing family conference it’s a pretty intensive time, as we go from 8:30 am to 8 pm on the first day and then 8:30-5 pm on the second day. As I explained to them, “The text book I wrote is used by Israel College of the Bible as semester course for Planting congregations. But we’re going to cover much of the material in 2 days –unless everyone would like to extend this for a few weeks?” Everyone appreciates that we all need to roll up our sleeves and get to work.
Since we work so closely with each participating leader, the responses we receive reflect the value of the conference for them. When asked what was most helpful in the conference, one leader wrote:
“This material brought a lot of Biblical principles together in an easy to understand way. I feel very edified and thankful that I took the time to attend because this conference enabled me to refocus the vision of where and what God is doing in our congregation. I found it most vital to renew the importance of discipleship for a healthy congregation which enables us to grow into the likeness of Messiah Yeshua.”
The material over the 2 days addresses many areas that are needed by the participating leaders and, in many cases, they have not been exposed to many of the biblical principles and practices that address their problems. So, it’s not uncommon for leaders to return and attend the other Word of Messiah conferences. One of these leaders wrote: “This was my second time through this material as I attended one of your conferences several years ago. For me this presentation addressed with even more clarity many of the issues and challenges that we are going through. One of the most helpful aspects revolved around your teaching on ‘problem solving.’”
Debbie Holford reports: “I listened to the story of another lady from California, I was awed again by God’s perfect timing and the commitment of those He had called. Faced with a restart and additional responsibilities, this conference provided the encouragement and practical help they need to move forward. “
What is especially exciting for the participating Messianic leaders is the emphasis on Yeshua, the equality of Jewish and Non-Jewish believers in the congregation, the whole bible approach and the focus on reaching the Jewish people with the Good News.
We focus on Yeshua as the Head, and the congregation as the local Body that lives out the will of the Head. Since His redemptive Will is seen in Messiah’s redemptive work as prophet, priest and king, we then show how the scriptures instruct us in how to effectively express these 3 functions in both the responsibilities of the elders and in the self-sustaining structure of the congregation. It is the whole bible that reiterates these matters for both the nation of Israel (Exodus 18) and for the local congregation (Acts 6). There is One Book, One Author and One People in Messiah.
Since the congregation is the local expression and testimony of God’s faithfulness in Messiah, outreach “to the Jew first” is explored and applications made, even though discipleship is the same for both the Jewish and non-Jewish people that come to faith.
Since our mandate from Yeshua is to “make disciples” not just decisions, a great deal of our time is spent on the matters pertaining to discipleship. It is jarring for many leaders to realize that their congregants may be merely acculturated and not discipled in the faith, and just how this problem accounts for much of the disunity and discontent that some congregations experience. To further apply these discipleship principles and practices in the congregation, we provide three breakout sessions: for children’s ministry led by Mrs. Debbie Holford, women’s ministry led by Miriam Nadler, and men’s ministries led by me.
By the end of the conference, there is a real sense of spiritual unity and comradery as we recognize what the Lord has accomplished over the two days knitting our hearts together in love so that we may all return in the grace of God and edify those we’re privileged to serve and further our outreach to the greater Jewish communities where we are located.
Please keep in prayer our follow-up as Word of Messiah will work with several of the attending congregations to assist them with application of the principles and address the further training each may need to more effectively reach out to the Jew first! Also please remember to pray for all the Word of Messiah ministries coming, especially the many Passover outreaches that will be conducted.