So You Want to Start a Hebraic Congregation?

Over the years, many people around the world have asked for my advice about starting a Hebraic home fellowship or congregation. I tell them all the same thing: I learned to pastor through the school of hard knocks with guidance from no one, although I sough it to no avail. Sadly, I had no one to mentor me. As a result, I made a lot of mistakes and learned by trial and error. Therefore, I’m happy to advise people in any way I can, so that they don’t make the same mistakes that I made. That is the purpose of the following article.

My wife and I started and pastored a Hebraic congregation in 1998 that met in our home for more than two years. When we outgrew our home, we rented a church building for another 15 plus years until the fall of 2016. 

As a result of our experience, dozens of folks have asked my help in mentoring them in starting Hebraic fellowships. To date, I have put nothing in writing on this subject until now. Perhaps some of the questions and suggestions below will be of value to those people daring enough to start a fellowship.

A Word to Those Desiring to Start a Fellowship

Before giving instructions to Timothy about the qualifications for being an elder, Paul had this to say about those desiring to serve as leaders in the congregation of the saints:

This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. (1 Tim 3:1)

Desiring to start a fellowship is not a bad thing—especially if the Spirit of Elohim is leading you to do it. If not, forget it. What’s not of YHVH will fail. If  the Spirit is directing you, and you’re not being led by the dictates of your own carnal heart, then there are some things you need to consider first before launching out.

Are You Willing to Pay the Price?

Before starting a fellowship, one must ask oneself some hard questions. One must first count the costs; it’s going to “cost” you more than you think. Are you willing to pay the price?, Yeshua taught his disciples.

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Wimps and Bullies Versus Godly Shepherds

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1 Timothy 3:3, Violent. This passage (vv. 3–7) lists the qualifications of an elder or leader of a congregation. One of the of character traits that he is not to posses is that of being a brawler (KJV),violent (NKJV) or pugnacious (NAS). What do the words brawler, violent or pugnacious mean here? It is the Greek word amachos meaning one who is by nature “a fighter, brawler, contentious, quarrelsome, one who causes strife, or one who is combative.” In modern terms, he’s a bully. Perhaps you remember the neighborhood bully from your years as a school child. An elder, overseer or shepherd of a congregation is not to be such a person. This is what Paul had in mind when he gave these instructions concerning the qualifications of an elder.

So let’s now explore this issue a little further. Is there ever a time when spiritual leaders may need to resort to forceful words or even to forceful actions to protect YHVH’s spiritual sheep? What, for example, did David mean when he asks the following question in Psalm 94:16?

Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? Or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?

What did Yeshua mean when describing a good shepherd versus an evil hireling shepherd when he said that unlike the evil shepherd, a good shepherd lays his life down for the sheep and protects them from those who come to kill, steal and destroy the sheep? He says that the good shepherd defends the sheep, Continue reading


 

The Fivefold Ministry Explained

Ephesians 4:11, He gave some to be apostles. (See notes at Exod 28:1.) Did the so-called five-fold ministry offices cease after the New Testament era, or do they continue function in the body of Yeshua to this day? In our day, most people agree that the ministries of the evangelist, teacher and pastor are still in operation today, but many say that the offices of apostles and prophet have ceased to operate. Yet in verse 13, we read that these offices would operate “till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of Elohim, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Messiah…,” which hasn’t happened yet. Therefore, it would stand to reason, that all these ministry offices are still needed today.

He. It must be kept in mind that Yeshua is the epitome of and over all (authoritatively) ministry offices that follow in this verse. When we ascended to heaven, he spread his own abilities out, as it were, among those he called to be leaders over his spiritual flock below (see Eph 4:8). Collectively, these ministry offices should be doing the work that Yeshua himself would be doing were he here on this earth presently.

Apostles. In addition to the twelve original apostles (including Matthias who replaced Judas Iscariot, Acts 1:26), here is a list of the other apostles, which might be called Continue reading


 

A Pastor Is a Herder of Sheep

Ephesians 4:11, He gave some to be …pastors. The word pastor is the Greek word poimen (pronounced poy-mane) occurs 18 times in the NT and is translated in the KJV as shepherd (17 times) and only once as pastor (pl., Eph 4:11). Poimen literally means “a herdsman, esp. a shepherd or one who cares for sheep.” In the Near East, it was the duty of the shepherd to watch for enemies trying to attack the sheep, to defend the sheep from attackers, to heal the wounded and sick sheep, to find and save lost or trapped sheep, to love them, and to share their lives with them thus earning their trust.

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The TDNT summarizes the role of the shepherd in this manner: In the Gospels, the shepherd’s sacrificial loyalty to his calling is depicted with loving sympathy using true-to-life pictures. For example, he knows each animal by name (John 10:3, 14, 17), seeks the lost sheep, is happy when he finds it (Luke 15:4–6), and is prepared to hazard his life to protect the sheep form the wolf (John 10:11–13). Yeshua even uses the shepherd as figure for Elohim in two parables (Luke 15:4–7; Matt 18:12–14; Ibid., vol. 6, p. 490).

As noted, only once in the NT are congregational leaders called shepherds (Eph 4:11). The absence of the article before teachers in the list of church offices (Eph 4:11) indicates that pastors and teachers are to form a single leadership group as it relates to ministering to the individual congregations, yet there’s no indication in this verse of pastor being an ecclesiastical title (Ibid.)

The verb poimainein, a derivative of poimen, gives some indication of the work of the pastor in the congregation. By definition, poimainein indicates the leadership responsibility of feeding, nourishing, tending, leading, ruling and cherishing Elohim’s flock or church (1 Pet 5:2; Acts 20:28; John 21:16) as a shepherd feeds his flock.


 

New Video: The Five-Fold Ministry Explained

In this video, Natan Lawrence explains the ministry offices of Ephesians 4:11 with special emphasis on the ministry of the apostle and prophet. He discusses how these, along with the other ministry offices should function in the local assembly and how the modern church has often missed the true intent of these ministries.


 

A Violent Elder or Pastor?

1 Timothy 3:3, Violent. This passage (vv. 3–7) lists the qualifications of an elder or leader of a congregation. One of the of character traits that he is not to possess is that of being a brawler (KJV), violent (NKJV) or pugnacious (NAS). What do the words brawler, violent or pugnacious mean here? It is the Greek word amachos meaning one who is by nature “a fighter, contentious, quarrelsome, one who causes strife, or one who is combative.” In modern terms, he’s a bully. Perhaps you remember the neighborhood bully from your years as a school child? An elder, overseer or shepherd of a congregation is not to be such a person. This is what Paul had in mind when he gave these instructions concerning the qualifications of an elder.

So let’s now explore this issue a little further. Is there ever a time when spiritual leaders may need to resort to forceful words or even forceful actions to protect YHVH’s spiritual sheep? What, for example, did David mean when he asks the following question in Psalm 94:16?

Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? Or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?

What did Yeshua mean when describing a good shepherd versus an evil hireling shepherd when he said that unlike the evil shepherd, a good shepherd lays his life down for the sheep and protects them from those who come to kill, steal and destroy the sheep? He says that the good shepherd defends the sheep, while the evil shepherd runs away (John 10:7–15). Another example of an evil shepherd is found in Ezekiel 34 where such a shepherd fails to protect the sheep from the beasts of the field (Ezek 34:7–10). How does a shepherd protect his sheep from the wolves who want to kill them? With nice words and platitudes, while singing Kumbaya, holding a candlelight vigil and then begging the wolf to leave and go elsewhere “pretty please, with cream and sugar on top”? Hardly, for the twenty-third psalm speaks of a shepherd who is armed with a rod and staff—and such brings comfort to the sheep (Ps 23:4) who know that the good shepherd has their best interests in mind. The staff was for leading and guiding the sheep, while the rod was for protecting the sheep against predators. On the sheep farm I was raised on, we used a rifle instead of a rod to protect our sheep. It’s interesting how the Bible prophesies that Yeshua, our Chief Shepherd (1 Pet 2:25; 5:4), will rule the world with a rod of iron in the Millennium (Rev 20:7–10). Continue reading