by Matt Nadler

On December 4th through 7th, Messianic leaders from 14 congregations and fellowships around the country met to discuss and solve the problems of Messianic congregational planning. Organized by Natalia Fomin and emceed by Hope of Israel youth leader Gary Corrado (and Greg Leekley), and brought to fruition by a number of volunteers from Hope of Israel who tirelessly served, we received feedback that the conference was not only highly useful and understandable, but also quite challenging from the Scriptures, laying out a full vision for Messianic congregations.

The first day (beginning on Sunday evening) was a “boot camp” wherein Sam gave a course covering the gamut of responsibilities and systems of the congregation. The sessions delved into the contents of the book, Establishing Healthy Messianic Congregations, addressing the responsibilities of prayer, the ministry of the Word, and overseer within a congregation, as well as the systems of contact-making (evangelism), disciple-making, member-making, and leader-making, which are essential for a congregation to grow and stay healthy. The morning worship and devotional times (given by Ron Bohning, Michael Herts, and Ben Alpert) were a real delight.

The second day began the main conference with an evening session on the overview and vision for Messianic congregations. We considered the “iceberg principle”: the real structure and relationships which make up the Messianic congregation are mostly below the surface, but we tend to focus on external issues which might distinguish one congregation’s service form another’s, for example.

The next morning, a CPA and expert on finances in ministry gave a practical session on how to handle finances in congregation planting, addressing the real need for responsibility and integrity before the community andgovernment. We also considered the function of administration ministry within a congregation, and during a session on Prayer and Worship there was an in-depth panel discussion led by Steve Weiler (of Shoresh David) on the various life-cycle ceremonies performed in a congregation, as well as a panel discussion on dance ministry in the congregation led by Debbie Bateman. In the afternoon there were sessions on discipleship, considering its values and materials in both the home and congregation, with panel discussions on ministry to women, men, youth, and a Children’s Ministry workshop led by Debbie Holford.

After dinner, a conference session on evangelism and outreach co-led by Sam Nadler and Steve Weiler covered matters both visionary and practical, from the use of festivals and getting members trained to the role of the internet and considering the demographics of your community. Finally, on the last day a very spirited discussion took place where leaders wrestled with questions about the realities of congregational membership, and the conference closed with a session on leadership development. Please remember the leaders as we continue building together.

This report is reprinted from Word of Messiah's
Shmooze Letter of September 2012 with permission.
Word of Messiah may be contacted via

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