Monthly Archives: February 2017

Messianic Worship and Congregations

What goes on in Messianic Jewish worship? And why is it important?

Messianic congregations are not new — there were hundreds of these congregations in Europe prior to the Holocaust! Sadly, they were destroyed along with the Jewish communities they served.

Most of the missions to the Jewish people operating in Europe at that time created special congregations for the Jewish people who came to faith in the Messiah Jesus. In fact, we have been planting Messianic congregations for all of our 123 years of ministry!

History 

  • Chosen People Ministries was founded by Rabbi Leopold Cohn, who came to faith on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in 1892. He established our ministry in Brooklyn in 1894.
  • Rabbi Cohn reached out to the Jewish people at that time in a variety of ways, as most of those he reached were new Jewish immigrants to the United States, like himself.
  • He started food distribution centers, citizenship training, English-as-a-second-language instruction, a free medical clinic, and of course, began preaching the Gospel in parks, public areas, and through weekly and holiday services.
  • Rabbi Cohn understood that it would be best for Jewish believers to worship on Friday night and Saturday as this would cause the least degree of cultural disruption for Jewish seekers and for new Jewish believers in Jesus.

Many Messianic Jews continue to worship on Friday night and Saturday at this present time.

The 150-plus Messianic congregations in Israel, where there has been tremendous growth of new congregations over the last two decades, all worship on Saturday!

(Sunday is a work day in Israel. Congregations that worship on Sunday are primarily established for non-Jews who live in the Holy Land.)

Of course, it is important for Messianic Jews to be part of a local church or Messianic congregation — just as it is important for all believers to be part of a faith community.

We also believe it is important for Jewish believers to maintain their Jewish identities in the Messiah, as God made us who we are and has planned and promised a future for the Jewish people.

The Apostle Paul would agree. He wrote in Romans 11:1, “I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.”

Jewish Identity and Messianic Congregations

Why is this so critical?

Consider: The number one reason Jewish people do not want to follow the Messiah Jesus is because it is assumed that when a Jewish person professes faith in Jesus, they are rejecting their Jewishness and committing ethnic suicide! This is the perception among the vast majority of Jewish people. And nothing could be further from the truth!

  • We want to remove this very obstacle from Jewish people as our Jewish people consider the claims of the Messiah.
  • We also believe it is healthy for Jewish people to understand that based upon the Abrahamic covenant (Genesis 12:1-3) the Jewish people continue to have a unique role in this world.
  • When you read through the Epistles, the Apostle Paul speaks about the unity of Jews and Gentiles, and so it is important for Jewish people to maintain their identity, as this is part of our witness of unity in the Messiah.
  • Unity is not a miracle when everyone is the same (Galatians 3:28).
  • While not every Messianic Jew is best served in a Messianic Jewish congregation, we find many Jewish believers in the Messiah Jesus prefer it.
  • And it is a wonderful corporate testimony to other Jewish people. 

What is Unique About a Messianic Congregation?

Some people have asked, “What is the difference between a local evangelical church and a Messianic congregation?” This is a good question!

  • Let me say from the start that Messianic Jews believe the same core doctrines as evangelical Christians.
  • The difference is not doctrinal and, of course, Messianic Jews all believe that the only way to receive salvation is through accepting Jesus as our atonement for sin.
  • His incarnation, resurrection and soon return are doctrines cherished by all Messianic Jews I know and especially those associated with Chosen People Ministries.

So what makes a Messianic congregation unique? Simply, we express our faith in Jesus the Messiah in a more “Jewish” way. We have already established that these congregations most often meet on Friday night or Saturday morning. This is a testimony in itself.

When Jewish people ask me what day I worship, they expect me to say “Sunday,” and then they conclude that I have “converted” and am no longer Jewish.

But if, when they ask me, I say we worship on Friday night or Saturday morning, then they are puzzled and do not understand why I worship on Saturday.  This often provides an opening to explain about Jesus, the Jewish Messiah. “Wait,” they say, “I thought you were Christian?”

I usually respond with, “Well, if by Christian you mean a follower of the Jewish Messiah, then absolutely yes…you can call me a Christian. But, if by naming me a Christian you mean that I am no longer Jewish, then you are wrong…I am still Jewish, but believe that Jesus is my promised Messiah.”

There are other differences, too:

Most Messianic congregations celebrate the Jewish holidays as fulfilled in the Messiah Jesus. This would include:

  • Passover (and Feast of Unleavened Bread),
  • First Fruits,
  • Pentecost (Shavuot),
  • New Year (Rosh Hashanah),
  • the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur),
  • and Tabernacles (Sukkot).

I believe that the festivals are road maps to redemption leading us to the person of Jesus, the Jewish Messiah. Messianic congregations can provide these special ministries as they schedule congregational life around the Jewish calendar, which provides many opportunities for the Jewish family and friends of Messianic Jews to come and see the “Jewishness” of Jesus rather than simply hear about it!

You only need to attend a Messianic congregation on a Jewish holiday, wedding, or even a funeral service, to see how Jewish non-believers respond to what occurs in the service. The testimony is profound.

Also the music in a Messianic service has a more “Jewish style.” Some aspects of the service are in Hebrew, and the order of service is more like a combination of a church and a synagogue service. There is a heavy emphasis on reading the Bible, just as there is in a synagogue, and a sermon is preached—usually longer than the brief 15-minute sermon preached by the average rabbi.

The fellowship afterwards is similar, but you can expect more bagels!

The Witness of a Messianic Congregation

Just imagine what it would be like to bring your friend or relative to a Chosen People Ministries’ Messianic congregation to enjoy a Jewish holiday event! We believe that hearing the message of the Gospel in a Jewish setting adds to the clarity and power of our witness.

Chosen People Ministries serves many Jewish believers who regularly attend local churches but need the additional Messianic Jewish fellowship and training. This is also one of the reasons we provide camping programs, retreats, and trips to Israel for young adults, and more. We want to help strengthen the identity and testimony of Jewish believers in Messianic congregations and also those who are part of local churches.

 

Let me invite you to experience a Messianic worship service yourself, by visiting one of our Chosen People Ministries’ Messianic congregations.

 

Thank you for your understanding, love and support.

Dr. Mitch Glaser
President of Chosen People Ministries

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Anti-Semitic graffiti in NYC Subway

Some things are just too horrible to let pass! This was the theme of an article, which appeared in a recent copy of the New York Times. The horrible act that could not go unnoticed was the writing of anti-Semitic statements on the walls of subway cars in New York City. A number of good Samaritans saw the remarks and came up with the idea of erasing them utilizing hand cleaner which has high alcohol content and is able to cut through the thick, waxy strokes of a permanent marker.

I cannot tell you how happy I am that these everyday New Yorkers took the initiative to act on their outrage and eradicate these despicable statements. In fact, one of those who was part of this admirable neighborly act took some pictures with his phone of the graffiti being erased and posted it on his Facebook site. Thankfully, more than a half-million people – and growing – took note of what was done and affirmed his actions and those of the others who would not allow these horrific statements to stand and be seen by others.

As a New Yorker, a Jewish person and a follower of Jesus the Messiah – I am impressed by what these good citizens did on behalf of the Jewish people. By their names, it does not seem that any of those who took action were actually Jewish themselves.

It seems to me that as long as we have brave souls who will not sit back and allow others to vent their hate in public – actions which tend to embolden those who already have twisted racial views including anti-Semitism – I believe that our country has hope!

You have probably heard the overused statement that all we need to do to allow the cancer of tyranny and hatred to destroy our souls in our community – is nothing. There are two verses in the Bible that these brave souls put into action – probably without knowing it – that might inspire our continued noble resistance to hatred against Jewish people and others.

First of all, the Jewish prophet Micah, writes,

He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)

Additionally, Jesus the Messiah said,

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. (Matthew 5:13)

Clearly, I am not neutral on the actions taken by these goodhearted, just, kindness-loving, humble, and I might add, brave, New Yorkers and appreciate their immediate actions on behalf of the Jewish people and against racial hatred in general. Erasing those remarks took courage. Their quick thinking acts of heroism demonstrate to me that New Yorkers, and hopefully Americans in general, believe we have a culture of freedom, respect, and goodness that is worth preserving.  And we are willing to put our action to our most cherished values.

 

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February 7, 2017 · 4:41 PM

Extraordinary times to be alive!

We live in extraordinary times as the events of the last days described by Jesus seem to be unfolding before our very eyes. 

…See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, “I am the Christ,” and will mislead many. You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. (Matthew 24:4-8)

Do you see it? This makes fulfilling the Great Commission of reaching the world (Matthew 28:19-20) for Jesus all the more important as we see the day drawing closer.

As Jesus’ disciples, we are moved and motivated by the hope of the Second Coming of Jesus!

This raises the importance of training evangelists to the Jewish people to an even greater magnitude. The Apostle Paul reminds us that the Gospel is “to the Jew first…and also to the Gentile” (Romans 1:16).

This is why we founded the Charles L. Feinberg Center for Messianic Jewish Studies in the heart of Orthodox Jewish Brooklyn.

The Center is a unique seminary program awarding a Master of Divinity degree in Messianic Jewish Studies, and is a partnership with the Talbot School of Theology of Biola University, and fully accredited by the New York Board of Regents and the Association of Theological Schools.

It is our goal to train and equip an army of Jewish evangelists to serve the Lord today and tomorrow. We have our eyes on the present, but because of what the Bible promises, we also have our hearts set on the future.

  1. Your Mission to the Jewish People is now in 18 countries and in 25 cities around North America, presenting the Gospel to the Jew first and also to the Gentile day in and day out.
  2. We minister heart-to-heart and person-to-person.
  3. Our media evangelism is already reaching millions. We are ministering on campuses and in urban areas with high concentrations of Jewish people like New York, Los Angeles, South Florida, Chicago, Toronto, London, Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv!
  4. We are helping the poor and planting Messianic congregations as part of our efforts to help those coming to faith in the Lord to become true followers who can lead others to the truth.

All of these ministries require leaders. This is why training missionaries to the Jewish people is so critical!

Feinberg Students are Learning on the Job!

Our Feinberg Center is in Brooklyn — the home of almost a million Jewish people! The center houses two Messianic Jewish congregations, one English-speaking and one Russian.

The students who live in the housing at the Center are involved with the congregations and are learning firsthand what it is like to worship Jesus in a Jewish setting. They are able to serve the Lord in the congregation through discipling new believers, teaching children’s programs, doing evangelism, greeting visitors and accompanying the pastoral staff on visitation.

As the following testimonies show, it is a rich and multifaceted education. Tanya, one of our students who comes from Ukraine writes, 

Living at the Feinberg Center has given me a unique opportunity to commit to the Russian-speaking congregation that meets downstairs and better connect with many of the people who attend support groups, Bible studies, concerts, etc. I highly value the blessing of being so easily available when somebody needs me. Living here helps an international student like me to be more involved in the community life.

-Tanya K.

Another of our student’s reports, 

Living in Brooklyn is of great advantage to my training in Jewish ministry because of the abundance of natural interactions with unbelieving Jewish people this setting provides on a daily basis. Here, I can converse with the Jewish people as a normal part of their environment in Brooklyn. 

-Joel M.

Campus ministry is also important, as there are thousands of Jewish college students attending school in New York City. Doug Pyle, who serves as mentor for the student workers, tells us about the eager participation of the students who have been going with him on a regular basis to various campuses in the Greater New York City area:

This past fall, four students from the Feinberg Center — Elisabeta, Tanya, Austin and Jessica — have gone with me weekly to university campuses such as Queens College, NYU, and Columbia University. I haven’t words to tell how grateful I am to see Feinberg students engaged in giving out the Gospel to Jewish students and others on university campuses. I am trusting that their exposure to campus ministry will result in some of them going into campus ministry here and elsewhere when they graduate. 

Graduates of the Program

Since the program began in the spring of 2007, there have been 15 graduates now trained to reach Jewish people with the Good News of the Messiah. Our students usually graduate without student debt, because generous and sacrificial supporters like you help underwrite the costs of the program.

Brian Crawford, a graduate of the Class of 2015, shares this:

The Feinberg Center provided me with the tools and the knowledge to interact with the sea of Jewish thought in multiple languages. Since graduating, my focus has been on building a Messianic apologetics website with an innovative design and a unique series of apologetics articles for Jewish audiences.

Darlene Line, from the Class of 2013, tells us:

Since graduating from the Feinberg Center in 2013, numerous doors have opened allowing me to share the Gospel with Jewish people and to train the church to do the same. I serve as a missionary with Chosen People Ministries in New Jersey and New York, as well as on the Mission’s Leadership Advisory Team. I am teaching weekly and bi- monthly Bible studies in Staten Island and Brooklyn, and also coordinating Jewish evangelistic outreaches on the campus of Rutgers University in New Jersey.

Denise Chung, who graduated in the spring of 2016, is from Hong Kong and is now serving the Lord among the Jewish people in New York City:

My four years of seminary training at the Feinberg Center and on the Biola campus has consolidated my Bible knowledge and personal application of the Word. The well-roundedness of Talbot’s Messianic Jewish Studies program has equipped me with both theological and practical training to serve in a unique Jewish ministry.

We are grateful to see the Lord using these graduates to be a light to the Jewish people! All of our graduates tell us that the training at the Feinberg Center was life changing and ministry shaping and so very valuable in their witness to the Jewish community.

Yours in the Messiah,

Dr. Mitch Glaser
President of Chosen People Ministries

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