Jewish Missions and Messianic Judaism, Musings on LCJE

I went yesterday to hear my friend, Rabbi Dr. Stuart Dauermann, deliver a paper at the LCJE North America Conference being held right here in my own city of Atlanta. LCJE (Lausanne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism) is a network of missionaries to the Jewish people. I used to be involved in LCJE and served on the international board for a time. As my paradigm changed from the missions world to the congregational movement, I ceased involvement in LCJE.

There are two aspects of the Jewish missions world that I think are helpful to understand: their role in history and what divides the missions from the Messianic congregations.

From the perspective of history, there would be no Messianic Judaism had it not been for the Jewish missions, such as American Board of Missions to the Jews (now Chosen People Ministries) and Jews for Jesus. Jews for Jesus in particular was the catalytic organization for the Messianic Jewish movement in the 1970’s. Sure, it was the Messianic Jewish Alliance and the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations where the congregational movement began to take shape. But Jews for Jesus led the way in establishing a groundswell of Jewish faith in Yeshua.

The congregations and the missions are divided. There is disagreement over methodology and even the meaning of Jewish identity. To put it simply, the missions value the work of obtaining decisions for Yeshua by Jewish people and work to produce such decisions. They hand out pamphlets and work with churches to meet with Jews who have Christian friends. Although cultivating some type of life in Messiah (discipleship) is a value, it is the proclamation of a decisional message that motivates more than anything else.

The congregations value life lived in Messiah. For congregations, decisions are not enough and an over-emphasis on decisional proclamation is a problem. From our perspective, inclusion in a local community of Jewish followers of Yeshua is the measuring stick. Also, a decision by a Jewish person to follow Yeshua is of limited value if that Jewish person then assimilates into Christian culture and essentially neglects or abandons their identity as Jews.

Sadly, the congregations and missions began to divide in the 1980’s, when the revival of Jewish faith in Yeshua was beginning to fade and the glory days were starting to disappear.

Messianic Jewish congregations value participation in the Jewish community, a strong Jewish identity built on relationships with Jews in the mainstream Jewish world and not primarily in the Christian world. Jewish mission organizations are much more in the Christian world and leaders in Jewish missions almost without fail worship in churches. I hear talk from some of them to the effect of, “We support both churches and Messianic synagogues as places for Jewish believers,” but I do not see this reality. The funding for Jewish missions comes from churches and it is their primary place of identity.

Don’t get me wrong. I have no qualms about the validity of Christianity or churches in general.

I just don’t believe that churches are the best place for Jewish followers of Yeshua. There is no social support for Torah living in churches. Quite the opposite, eating a ham sandwich is practically a rite of allegiance to Christ for many churched Jews. To not eat the ham sandwich is taken by well-meaning but tragically misinformed Christians as a form of legalism or Judaizing.

Most importantly, Jewish identity is not passed down from generation to generation by Jews whose primary community is in a church and participation in the life of Klal Yisrael (the wider community of the Jewish people) is virtually impossible for Jews enculturated in Christianity.

It is important for me to say that there are good reasons why some Jews who follow Yeshua choose churches. In many places where Jewish people live, there is no viable Messianic synagogue. By viable, I mean a synagogue which actually has Jewish people in it (it’s tragic and ironic that we have produced Gentile Messianic congregations in many places) and where the teaching and community are balanced and healthy. I find that some Jews in places without a viable Messianic synagogue make good choices, belonging to a church and a mainstream synagogue, in order to make the best in their situation.

So, to summarize, LCJE represents the Jewish missions. The MJAA, UMJC, and IMJA represent the congregations. There is still interaction between the missions and congregations, but very little in most places. Tragically, the missions and congregations need each other, but to work together there would have to be some major paradigm changes. The issued that divide are simple and I could list them as follows:

–The missions see Christianity as the primary community of Jewish followers of Yeshua while the congregations see Klal Yisrael as the primary community.

–The missions tend to view Torah observance and traditional Jewish life as optional or even in some cases forbidden, while the congregations overwhelmingly view Torah as a continuing obligation for Jewish followers of Yeshua.

–The missions emphasize proclamation and decisions while congregations emphasize community and the living out of Jewish life in Messiah together (the missions might say I am being unfair here, but I could be glad to elaborate).

My Story, From Missions to Congregation
It might help my readers from various points of view (Jewish, Messianic Jewish, and Christian) if I explain my story and the changes in outlook that led me out of the missions world and out of LCJE. I am hopeful that a reconciliation between missions and congregations could happen, but I am not overly optimistic since I feel the missions would have to do most of the changing for that to happen. Perhaps my story will illuminate the issues.

I was not born Jewish. In April, my family will complete a conversion process.

I was not born Christian. My family was raised in an environment of blended atheism and long-lapsed Christianity on my mother’s side. I considered myself an atheist until my second year of college when I discovered the message of Jesus primarily through C.S. Lewis’s books.

I found out very quickly and very surprisingly that Jesus was Jewish. I could not simply write off the importance of this fact, though most of my new-found Christian friends regarded his Jewish identity as irrelevant.

Within nine months of my decision to follow Jesus, I traveled to Israel. I attended a Messianic synagogue as well as a Baptist church. The Messianic synagogue, sadly, did not share with me the importance of being Jewish. Messianic Judaism, it seemed, was something all Christians should do. There was no distinction between Jew and Gentile except in this sense: only Jews could be leaders at the synagogue. And there was no conversion.

I didn’t feel I needed conversion. I was part of a group of Jews and Gentiles empowered to live Jewish lives together. It was confusing and my conversion in April is a long overdue correction. In saying this, I do not mean that non-Jews have no place in Messianic Judaism. I think there is a major place for non-Jews in Messianic Judaism and I am not advocating conversion as the only solution. But that is a topic for another time.

I lived at that time a compartmentalized life. I was primarily a Christian, but I saw myself as a missionary to Jewish people and practiced some Jewish customs. I did not believe, nor did the Messianic synagogue, that Torah was an obligation or way of life. Lighting Shabbat candles was a cultural choice like eating bagels instead of biscuits.

I left Georgia Tech and went to Moody Bible Institute in Chicago to study Jewish thought and become a better missionary. I planned to go to Israel as a missionary. Eventually I took a post in Atlanta as a missionary to the Jewish people where I worked for five and a half years.

My stance toward Judaism was one calling people out of Judaism and into Christianity. I saw Judaism as the religion of self-effort and Christianity as the religion of grace. I did not understand Judaism and did not take the time to learn the Siddur, rabbinic thought, or Jewish theology.

Nonetheless, over time, I became increasingly uncomfortable with the approach of Jewish missions. I slowly returned to something that had occurred to me at the beginning of my journey: Jewish life and Yeshua faith went hand in hand and were not opposed.

It bothered me more and more that our methods were confrontational. It seemed a scandal that we led our Jewish friends to join churches where their Jewish identity would be further suppressed. I realized more and more that the biblical gospel is not decisional but communal. That is, the priority of getting people to make decisions to follow Yeshua was misplaced. The true priority of the gospel is the healing of Israel and the nations in Yeshua, a total redemption of body, soul, spirit in a corporate sense and not individualistically. People are saved into a community called to transform the world, not into a private contract with God guaranteeing bliss in the afterlife. A decision for Yeshua without ensuing involvement in a community of Jews living Yeshua’s teaching together was a very short-sighted goal.

You might say, “But if these Jews were placed in church communities, that was fulfilling the need for community and transformation.” The problem is, it was not fulfilling the need for Jews as Jews to be in community and transformation. It was transformation from Jewish life to Christian life. And in too many evangelical Christian churches, transformation is not even an option. Their theology is so decisional, people attend church to hear that they are saved and not to go out and heal anyone or anything.

I then made a providential but foolish choice. I started a synagogue. I was a Gentile (and still will be until April). I knew next to nothing about Judaism. For the first few years I stumbled along and a great group of friends grew out of it and they remained faithful when I was learning and making mistakes by the truckload.

The UMJC, Hashivenu, and my current friends and colleagues at MJTI saved me from myself. Even as a new synagogue leader, I still thought like a missionary. I was opposed to people I now value as close friends. I stood up in a meeting and opposed Mark Kinzer to the whole crowd, but Paul Saal worked with me and gently helped me along as my paradigm expanded.

I went through a pendulum swing and became a little anti-Christian for a while. Immaturity is a constant problem. Over time, and again largely through UMJC and Hashivenu / MJTI friendships, I came again to a great appreciation for the Church as well as Klal Yisrael. My friends at synagogue put up with me through some changes and mis-starts.

Early in the process, I dissociated from LCJE. I lived and still live in an ironic dilemma: feeling that these people in Jewish missions are in many cases among the brightest and finest people, salt of the earth, and yet being opposed to various aspects of their work.

The Future
Will the missions accept some of the priorities of the congregations? Will the missions find a place someday working with the congregations? Will churches support a kind of Jewish mission work that is transformed into a Messianic Jewish mode or will churches always be suspicious of anyone who says that Jews belong with Jews in community?

I don’t know. But I do sense that leaders in Jewish missions are at some level dissatisfied as I was. Perhaps they want congregations to change, to emphasize Torah less. Michael Brown, one of the best known Jewish missionary leaders, read a paper last year calling for Messianic Jews to be more Messianic and less Jewish. Maybe the missions would want us to make Torah optional and reject rabbinic tradition’s authority over our lives so that they would feel comfortable sending their disciples to us.

But I know that many of these leaders are on a journey to a holistic gospel. I know that the disciplined reading of biblical texts is doing its work in all of us. And biblical texts support a gospel that is far beyond decisions and converts. Perhaps many mission leaders want to see Jewish communal life for their disciples but feel the congregations would require doctrinal change before they would be comfortable sending disciples into our congregations.

I reflected on all of this yesterday as Rabbi Dr. Dauermann, senior scholar at MJTI and a colleague and friend, delivered a bold, passionate, and persuasive paper on Yeshua as the Son of David. Tomorrow I will blog about Rabbi Dauermann’s message, a mature exploration of the Son of David theme in apostolic preaching.

I will be at another panel in the LCJE meeting tomorrow and the questions about the future will continue to resonate in my mind. It would be good to have more people working together in this great idea of the renewal of Israel in Yeshua. May God help us all to be free from pride and to be transformed by his Son that we might heal others as we have been healed.

About Derek Leman

IT guy working in the associations industry. Formerly a congregational rabbi. Dad of 8. Nerd.
This entry was posted in Christian, Gospel, Judaism, messianic, Messianic Jewish, Messianic Judaism and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Jewish Missions and Messianic Judaism, Musings on LCJE

  1. waltonbill says:

    I enjoyed this article. Mainly because it challenged me. I have been listening to you and reading some of your blog for a few months now. But here more than anywhere you i was highly surprised by what you wrote. I would like to hear why you think Jews belong with Jews,Now maybe you have explained this before and i have not seen it. With the point of this blog being about understanding Christ in his context better. How is the application of community life fitting with the context of early church life?

    I have other questions but i will leave it at this one for now.

  2. Bill:

    I am glad you asked that question. I have blogged extensively about this, but I always have new readers and some things need to be brought up repeatedly.

    First, I recommend Mark Kinzer’s Postmissionary Messianic Judaism. It is academic, but not an impossible read.

    Second, think about the book of Acts. You have Peter and James with the Jerusalem congregation and the Jewish mission. You have Paul and Barnabas and Timothy with the Gentile mission. The Jewish mission and the Gentile mission run parallel, but are distinct. The Jewish followers have different needs and issues as raised in Acts 15 and 21.

    Third, recognize that the letters of Paul are written to the Gentile mission and do not reflect a total ecclesiology for Jews and Gentiles. Unity does not mean uniformity.

    Fourth, Paul does not see Israel dissolving in the new order of Messiah, but continuing. Jewish followers of Yeshua are part of Israel. The Church has done too little thinking, we would say, about what it means to be part of Israel. It does not mean that we practically abandon the Jewish community in favor of Christian community. Rather, we are the part of Israel that follows Yeshua and which is in unity with the Church. The unity of Jewish and Gentile followers of Messiah is much deeper than attending the same congregations. It is a joining of Israel and the nations in mutual blessing.

    Please fire back with some more questions and challenges. This topic needs more discussion and I doubt I can persuade you in one comment.

    Derek

  3. Also, Bill and everyone, if you read the tab at the top called “Beliefs,” you will get some more explanation of all this.

  4. judeoxian says:

    Derek:

    I like your story. Thanks for sharing a more personal side.

    How you set up the differences between the congregations and missions was very informative. This scenario is what I detected from the research I did for “The Emergence of Messianic Judaism” in MJ 102.

    Most of all, it is good too see that you guys are continuing in dialogue with LCJE. Aside from differences on Torah and tradition, the goals of missions and congregations should be complimentary.

  5. cjlid says:

    –The missions see Christianity as the primary community of Jewish followers of Yeshua while the congregations see Klal Yisrael as the primary community.

    We regularly disagree on this one. I believe that we do agree that the most important bonds of fellowship are the immediate local ones, and when available, a believing Jew should seek out a MJ synagogue.

    –The missions tend to view Torah observance and traditional Jewish life as optional or even in some cases forbidden, while the congregations overwhelmingly view Torah as a continuing obligation for Jewish followers of Yeshua.

    I do think this is a problem when it rears it’s ugly head. I can’t speak about the missions movement, but it seems that it’s becoming less of a problem in “regular” churches.

    –The missions emphasize proclamation and decisions while congregations emphasize community and the living out of Jewish life in Messiah together (the missions might say I am being unfair here, but I could be glad to elaborate).

    That does seem unfair. Aren’t you accusing the people who “go out and get people” of emphasizing going out and getting people instead of building community like us, “the people who build community”? Isn’t that the point of missions?

    -Chris

  6. Chris:

    All good points. As to the third where I might be unfair, if the missions were finding Jewish people ready to follow Yeshua and plugging them into Messianic Jewish communities, I would not be complaining. We have talked with MJ synagogues that have great relationships with Jewish mission agencies. Virtually none of the people who show up in the number of decisions the missions report come to MJ synagogues. We asked in particular one synagogue that is in tight relationship with Jews for Jesus. They have had no one referred to them. No one. So, if these decisions do materialize into communal worship and fellowship, it must be in churches where Jewish identity will be lost. This process does not respect the whole person, that a person is more than a decision. Also, I suspect a majority of these decisions reported by the missions do not enculturate in a church either. They are not valid examples of Jewish people following Yeshua, but of Jewish people claiming a decision.

    I know I am inviting trouble for myself if someone for a mission wishes to come on here and say I am wrong. If they do, I will certainly challenge them for numbers and evidence. By evidence, I mean I would like to call the MJ synagogue they claim to refer to and get some actual perspective from the rabbi. I suspect there will be silence.

    The decisions game is smoke and mirrors.

    That is why I say the congregational movement better represents the renewal of Israel in Yeshua. We bring people into a lifestyle of following Yeshua in a community.

    What I said in my post is that I wish the missions could work with congregations and this would mean some dialogue about methods. Ideally, outreach personnel serve congregations. But this stopped happening long ago. The missions get their money from churches, get most of their Jewish contacts from churches, and place their Jewish disciples in churches. Plain and simple with few exceptions.

    Derek

    • derek4messiah :
      We asked in particular one synagogue that is in tight relationship with Jews for Jesus. They have had no one referred to them. No one. So, if these decisions do materialize into communal worship and fellowship, it must be in churches where Jewish identity will be lost.

      I can concur with the above statement from experience. We had the head of the local Jews for Jesus chapter visit us. He said he liked the service (even though we are very Jewishly traditional and very pro-rabbinic both in service and teaching), and promised that he would send people our way. This was a year ago – not a single Jewish person had been sent our way from J4J. We are one of the very few solid and sizable Messianic Jewish congregations in our area. This suggest the following two possible explanations:

      A. Jews for Jesus the organization is no longer effective at reaching the Jewish people for Messiah.

      OR

      B. They are still effective in what they do, but consciously choose to send everyone who makes their decision for Yeshua straight to churches (the source of their spiritual and financial support), purposely avoiding Messianic Jewish congregations which emphasize Torah and commitment to Jewish continuity.

      I see no other explanation.

  7. Perhaps many mission leaders want to see Jewish communal life for their disciples but feel the congregations would require doctrinal change before they would be comfortable sending disciples into our congregations.

    While we wait for that to happen (I won’t be holding my breath), I think it would be great for us to set up and financially, morally and spiritually support our own shaliach programs that would actively but lovingly and respectfully proclaim Yeshua the Messiah to our people, coupling the emphasis on repentance and relationship with HaShem through the Messiah with congregational life in Klal Yisrael and covenant-faithfulness. Messianic Jewish Tefillin stands anyone?

  8. miked232 says:

    From my point of view as an emerging Salvationist, I agree with you completely to the extent of my understanding. For Jews to assimilate into Christian Churches poses the same issues as Paul addresses and that is found in the “first churches”. Culturial & Traditional exorcism would seem to pull one in opposite directions and maybe away from God; embracing the three by community seems more natural & logical. Thanks for insights. All Faiths have our areas to work on towards unification of Mission – Church – Mission, God blesses Us all getting there. Now…

  9. cjlid says:

    I understand your attitude toward “decision stats”. I think they’re a necessary evil that missions use to impress the people who stay at home and pay the bills. Who really knows how many are legit. Likewise, how many people enter a community and fade away? It seems that your issue isn’t that they’re failing to plug them into a community, but that they’re failing to plug converts into the community of your choosing.

    I think Gene hit the nail on the head. If we don’t like it, why not do better? I feel like our congregations involvement with the Jewish Community so far has been along the lines of hoping they’ll accept us rather than helping them accept Jesus. Are there any good missions to support? Or do you thing the mission model is defunct? Should these missions be more like Chevra and other humanitarian efforts (hands on, mouths off)?

  10. wordmachine says:

    Most Jewish people I know are mixed into the culture of Gentiles. There are countless times I have wished I could be sent to more Jewish places and instead I get sent to mostly Gentile places. I think that the Lord can use Gentile places for Messianic followers to reach out to Jewish people who are stuck out there in that culture, to help them to learn about Messianic Judaism. I usually run into one Jewish person at every Gentile place I go to. If my past elementary school teacher (who I think is naturally Jewish) wasn’t planted at my non-Jewish school I may have not ever wanted to become a follower of Messiah. The way I look at missions from my eyes is that we should be planted where the Lord wants us to be planted missionally and come back with our congregational group at least weekly to discuss and help keep us accountable. I know there are a lot of different viewpoints though.

  11. I currently cannot see us working with or supporting the missions. They feel the same way about us.

    Yes, I would like for us to do better. But I would not dismiss the things we do now and the impact they have through relationships. Keep in mind, I’m doubtful the missions are seeing many Jewish people interested in following Yeshua. And many who are come to the missions through Christian friends. Almost zero come from street pamphleting (I know, since I easily handed out over half a million pamphlets in my days as a missionary). Street pamphleting simply looks good to donors. I imagine someone from JFJ will call me on that. But I will shoot back with: where’s the proof and email me the name of a Messianic synagogue with significant growth as a result of JFJ referrals from street pamphleting.

    The mission model became defunct in the 80’s. It could have done well if missions and congregations worked together, in m opinion. Instead, the missions became recruiters for Jews to become Christians and abandon their Jewish identities.

    It is well-known by the missions and the congregations that the big numbers of Jewish followers of Yeshua came in the 70’s. The revival died out long ago.

    But how does our small community grow and make an impact for Yeshua’s glory in coming decades and centuries? That is what I think the Hashivenu / MJTI stream of MJ is all about. I think many in the UMJC are in this stream. And Dan Juster’s Tikkun also has a lot to offer as a sort of parallel stream. I know very little about MJAA and IMJA.

  12. Pingback: Return from Hiatus « Just Jewish.

  13. waltonbill says:

    Thank you for your response Derek. I understand the distinction of life practices. As you described and i do see the importance of MJ community to MJs. I will tell you know so you know where i am coming from. I would be considered a gentile believer. My further question is one of practical practice. For those in an MJ synagogue are they also part of a church? Or would you consider this synagogue a church?

    I am curious about those things but my main question is here. In your discussion you are advocating a life of holistic faith. What happens when a gentile comes to faith by the testimony of those in a MJ community? Are they brought in or told to find a better place for them?

    I am trying to not target you specific community and make things apply to the greater community of MJ people. I do not wish to make this an attack but i see it as a very valid question, and i did not see an answer in the beliefs section.

  14. Bill:

    I think that there are several kinds of non-Jews in a Messianic synagogue. (1) Those married to a Jewish person. (2) Those who have so identified with the Jewish people that they will convert or regard themselves as Jews. (3) Those who wish to support the Jewish congregation of Yeshua without becoming Jewish.

    As for (2), I think over time it is important for these to follow through on conversion. It is ultimately not best for non-Jews to live as Jews without a commitment. It is a little like living together instead of being married.

    As for (3), some of my colleagues disagree, but I think this is an important category we must include and in no way delegitimize. Some will complain that mainstream synagogues do not have a category like (3). My answer: they used to and they were called God-fearers. Furthermore, we should expect that some from the nations will want to join partially with Israel, like sojourners living amongst the Israelites. I feel that inclusion in Yeshua makes Gentiles members of the commonwealth of Israel (cf. Eph 2). My disagreement with some of my friends (such as Judah Himango) is that I don’t see this as making these Gentiles de facto Jews.

    My short answer, Gentiles whose primary community is MJ have chosen to affiliate in the Jewish ekklesia rather than that of the nations. We have counter-examples: Paul and Timothy working as Jews in the national ekklesia though they belong to the Jewish ekklesia. Crossovers will happen in the movement of the Jewish Messiah.

    Derek Leman

  15. Derek, do you see a need for those in category 1 to make the same commitment as those in category 2?

  16. Derek, reading your story once again helps me know myself a bit better. I’ve been tempted by the prospect of Jewish conversion as a Messianic (decided against it, though my conclusions then were probably different than they would be now). I’ve been profoundly influenced by the contact I’ve had with Judaism. That along with my readings in “Jesus Studies”, “New Perspective on Paul” as well as a few Messianic sources such as David Stern and Daniel Juster and yourself; has helped to mould my personal faith and walk — even though I have yet to step into a Messianic synagogue (though I’ve been to a few traditional ones — even carried the Sefer Torah around the bema on Simcha Torah).

    Our two stories probably highlight what you began to say above:

    …It was confusing and my conversion in April is a long overdue correction. In saying this, I do not mean that non-Jews have no place in Messianic Judaism…

    In your case, you come from a background of “blended atheism and long-lapsed Christianity”, and I can now readily see that the path that you were led through in your discipleship process, your early understanding of Yeshua’s Jewishness, etc, naturally led to your eventual conversion to Judaism. It’s a path that inspires me no end.

    You had no Christian heritage apart from what you picked up on the way. In my case, I’m the product of a rich family-faith heritage that runs through Hudson Taylor, C.T.Studd and my parents, WEC missionaries who poured out their lives to planting churches in the farthest unreached parts of Thailand. I was raised there, away from denominational churches, with their life of faith as my role-model. At the same time, my parents were open minded about many things, and that has also rubbed off on me. It’s left me open to grasp the profound value of things like rabbinical midrashim, Talmud and other sources, as a window to understanding the foundations and world view Yeshua and Paul — even the understand that we all (Jewish and Christian communities) are, in a way, one (though somehow broken and marred). I got that sense while worshipping in the Orthodox synagogue, conscious that these were God’s chosen people, and hearing them speak of things is scripture as happening to “our fathers” in a way I couldn’t even though it was in my Bible.

    Yet, I’m a goy from my mother’s womb, where I also gained a rich heritage, which I must be true to.

    I appreciate you very much, Rabbi Derek.

  17. Monique:

    I think those married to Jews would ideally convert. Yet this will not always happen. I think there is wisdom in the approach of Reform not to be pushy about it and to accept people who make varying decisions. The lack of solid Jewish commitment and education has led many to marry non-Jews who never had any intention of converting. As the marriage covenant is sacred, I believe as a religious community we should not apply pressure which can damage marriages. From my reading, which is not at all as extensive as it should be, the Conservative community has done damage by pushing conversion too strongly and alienating people.

    Some people marry a Jewish person without any intention of ever converting. No one tells them at marriage this is an issue. They have families and commitments that have not been considered. Conversion is not a great idea for all of them. There is a balance of relationships and commitments that is complex.

    I feel that MJ offers an environment where a Christian and Jewish spouse can both worship and be in relationships that fulfill their needs. We are uniquely able to provide Jewish and Christian community at the same time.

    But, I admit that I do hope the non-Jewish spouses will realize the importance of Jewish identity for their spouse and kids. I hope this will lead them to conversion. But I am not God that I can demand or expect people to negotiate this difficult choice the way I want. Life is ambiguous and paradoxical.

    Derek Leman

  18. Robby:

    You have a profound story, a background which is so different from most people. I thank you for sharing it. No doubt this gives you unique perspectives on Christianity and Judaism, seeing that your community of origin is so different from typical American Christian experience.

  19. dnessim says:

    Hi, Derek,
    There isn’t much you say that I can find fault with. As the leader of a ‘mission’ to Jewish people in the United Kingdom, I am charged with setting direction, and your thoughts are right on target. When I first took this job in 2001 I chose to wear a kippah as a sign that there is no way I desire to lead Jews away from their Jewishness. I still believe this fervently. I am saddened but know it is true what you (and Gene in his reply) note – ‘missions’ generally don’t direct Jewish followers of Yeshua to Messianic congregations. This is a shame and missions should be ashamed. It would be akin (this is a horrible comparison) to missions in some far-flung land taking all those who have believed in Jesus back to their sending countries – and then wondering why the people in that land haven’t responded to the Good News in the numbers they had hoped! The only place I consistently see any difference in the pattern is where Shlichim (I don’t like the word missionary) are actively following Rav Shaul’s example and fostering worshipping communities – in our case communities of Jewish followers of Yeshua.
    I strongly believe that to be relevant the ‘missions’ have to adapt to the times. They must no longer be the servants of the Gentile church but that of the Messianic Jewish movement. Missions that can’t make this change should close their doors.

  20. dnessim:

    Thank you and it was great talking with you at the L.A. airport. I may take you up on your offer and show up at your door some day (my wife and I both).

    If the more shlichim become like you (and I know a few others in your organization as well), then there will be a future for kiruv organizations for Yeshua. Wish you were in Atlanta.

    Derek

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