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Five Steps Towards a Stable Congregation

. Posted in Teachings.

These concepts will help stabilize local assemblies – assemblies may be home groups or congregations, the principles hold true in either setting. Through working towards stabilizing our assemblies, we give hope to the next generation with tangible evidence that there will be communities of faith that will support and augment their families. This list is certainly not intended to be exhaustive, but rather a place for us to start thinking about what it is we are currently doing and how perhaps we can do it better. Want to learn more about leadership? Consider attending our Leadership Workshop this March.

Clarify Your Vision

We are familiar with the Scriptural admonition to establish a vision or perish. When it comes to our local assemblies however, that singular vision often takes a back seat to multiple opinions. Any vision should be an over-arching statement that brings clarity to the purpose, and even the existence, of your group. It should be broad enough to inspire, and succinct enough to be memorized. Through the process of establishing a vision, you really are addressing a few important questions such as:

  • Why are we meeting together?
  • What is the purpose of our meetings?
  • Why has the Father brought us together?
  • What does Abba want us to do?

At the same time, a clear vision statement clarifies what you should leave alone, as any size group has innate limitations. A clear vision will allow you to utilize your human, spiritual, and financial resources in a more effective and prudent manner.

The vision statement should be a live document. It will change over time, based upon the participants in the fellowship, the maturity level of the group, and the changing world around us. After it is established, revisit it every few months to see if you are operating within the vision and to determine if the vision needs to be updated.

Establish Recognized Leadership

The nature of human beings is that whenever two or more people are gathered together, someone is going to lead. It is simply inevitable. The real question is not if, but who? If the Father has brought you together, He will also provide the leader. Time after time in ancient Israel, a leader emerged and it was typically not a person who sought the position, but someone who the Father had been preparing for years. When preparation meets opportunity, things happen.

In 1 Timothy and Titus, we read the Scriptural qualifications for leadership. These qualifications provide a filtering system for finding a solid leader. Perfection is not on the list. Actually, the qualifications define Jethro’s instruction to Moses, when he told Moses to find “able men” to help him lead Israel. While the list might seem imposing, to circumvent it will typically cause great harm. Again, if the Father wants the group to exist, He will provide a suitable leader. Just realize that the leader may not be the best teacher, as there are different attributes to each position (one is more administrative than the other). Leaders should be able to teach, but they may not always be THE teacher.

Elders = Stability

The wisdom that true elders bring to any congregation is invaluable. This is one area that many Messianic congregations have been lacking, largely a product of timing. We are one generation into the modern Messianic movement and experienced Elders are now emerging. These Elders are not just “old,” but old in the faith as well. They have seen many things and can give good counsel on a variety of topics. Utilizing their collective wisdom is a great value to the local assembly.

Unfortunately, many times elders are pushed to the back or ignored, rather than respected. Often the younger and more aggressive individual is given the place of honor, but that is not how the local assembly should be established. Paul urged Titus to, “ordain elders in every city” as part of his instruction on how to, “set things in order.” As the Hebraic Roots/Messianic understanding expands throughout the world, we are trying in many cities to “set things in order,” once again. Elders are vital to this process as they bring stability and insight that is absolutely vital for our assemblies.

Focus on the Children

I often hear, “We don’t have any children in our group.” If that is the case, then take a hard look and find out why. Just as elders provide stability, children provide vitality. If there are no children in your group, there is a reason. Maybe you are too selfish and do not want to be bothered by those noisy little darlings. If that is the case, then you need a heart transplant. Yeshua said, "Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these (Mark 10:14).” If you want to be part of the Kingdom, you better find a way to engage, not dismiss, the children. There are things you can do if you are missing the children. Go ahead and get creative, get out of your comfort zone. If you are missing children, you are missing life.

Maybe it is a simple thing, like the time you are meeting, that prevents families with children from attending. Perhaps it is your attitude towards the children. Yes, they make messes, but not nearly the messes that some ornery older folks make, just a different type. Perhaps it is the length of service or the teaching style that drives the young folks away. Whatever the case, find out what it is and fix it. Once a few young families begin to blossom, they will bring others and soon you will run out of room.

Without children, our faith dies with us. That is not a very promising testimony. Realize that Scripture calls children a blessing and how we are to train them is contained right within the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:7). May we train up, motivate, inspire, and engage the next generation in meaningful ways that will bring life to our homes, assemblies, and His Kingdom.  

Identify Key Foundational Stones

Foundation stones define the purpose of your group. Just as with vision, there are many good things a congregation can focus on. Without clear focus on your purpose, everything gets watered down and we are left overwhelmed and ineffective. A very helpful exercise is to take the time to determine what the Father wants you to focus on. Again, you cannot do everything well, but you can do a few things very well. What is it that He wants you to focus on?

Have some conversations with those you meet with. What is their passion? Use that as a beginning point to determine your foundational stones, then confirm it through prayer. These are the foundational building blocks of your assembly, the things that you will put your resources towards. These should be important things that folks can rally around. Through a series of conversations, you will be able to determine what your foundational stones should be.

It is then easy to get folks focused and also much easier to say, “no.” Some things, no matter how good they are, just do not fit into your assembly. You should leave these things alone, knowing that there is someone else who will accomplish those mighty tasks. The ability to say no, in peace, is priceless. Like a vision, the foundational stones will change over time. That is OK, the key is to know what they are. The improved focus will bring increased effectiveness and increased effectiveness yields increased shalom.

In closing, let me encourage you to take your participation in the local assembly seriously. Whether you are the leader or a new attendee, the Father has you there for a purpose. He wants our assemblies to grow and be lights to the nations. To be a light we need His blessing partnered with some honest effort on our behalf. May we dare to excel, leaving a legacy for the next generation.

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