I have been involved with ministry to Jewish people and Israel for some years and know many people who do similar work.
Every so often I see some Christians that take an interest in Israel and Jewish foundations of Christianity and suddenly think we should not be doing worship on a Sunday but switch to Friday or Saturday, they might try and look for a Messianic congregation (which in the UK are a rarity) then often get tired of this, they then retreat into a solitude and stop fellowshipping with a wider body of believers in Christ.
So, I go to a well-known church in London, which actually has no interest in Israel or ministry to Jewish people. This is a shame as I wish there was more interest, but here’s why.
- I am a non-Jew. I feel like I need to not pretend to be something I am not. If I meet up with my Chinese friends as I am keen to ask them about the huge explosion of the gospel in the China and the number of Chinese believers in London, it wouldn’t be right for me to try and dress up as a Chinese clothing.
- Relationships and less religious complexity. There are a lot of arguments in the Messianic world, both on the internet and through personal contact. Issues with legalism and whether to be under old and new covenant or somewhere in between. But, I love the Messianic congregations in Israel and I actually see these as the measuring stick of quality of teaching and relationships. At the same time, I’ve seen things too many stupid things (whining about Christmas and Easter, questioning the Trinity, sacred name theology etc) that trip people up and cause divisions which I am sick and tired of, mostly from people believing something they read on the internet. These are patterns of problems that can happen in any church denomination.
- Discipleship. I see this for myself in a bi-direction thing. a) I meet up with believers who I mentor and pray and encourage who are in the early walk with their lives in the Lord. I’ve also helped a Jewish man who is unemployed and uncertain what is employment path and he knows me well enough that the conversation can lean towards a kind, gentle but clear message of the gospel and me to give him prayer over his searching for work. b) for myself, I’ve managed to meet Christian friends more established and knowledgeable about things like gifts of the spirit and other areas in moving forward in Christ which I am seeking to develop for myself. Those of you who know me, know that I am a single man, so the dynamics of growth in the Lord for me I think are different than they are for a married couple. c) I also try to be accountable to friends and peers of similar background and age to myself. If I went to a very small congregation I’d miss out on this, and I feel a sense of urgency for those non-churched or curious about knowing Christ to help them.
- I like a church with a wide variety of different people. My parents’ church is largely pro-Israel but also has Arab and Japanese believers.
- Messianic congregations are something of a rarity in some parts of the world like the UK. The number of believers in Israel is only 25,000 out of 8m people, so congregations there are small in number. In the US the Messianic movement is much bigger and more established I think. Granted there are churches of countless different denominations but more excitingly different language and cultural audiences. Once church near me offers free English languages for those from an Indian background, one church for Arabic speaking people (former Muslims and traditional Christian Arabs) French, Chinese and even Turkish!
- I see myself as under the New Covenant. Jesus’s life and sacrifice is enough for me without having to add on obligations which are not required.
If you go to a Messianic congregation in UK, US or Canada, then if the teaching, worship and fellowship is right for you, great! What does trouble me, as some folks wanting to discard their current conventional church seeking something new and end up confused and miss a simple message of Christ and his sacrifice with a minimum of complexity.