Becoming "Living Stones" as in 1 Peter 2:1-10 and "Making Disciples" as in Matthew 28:18-20.
As I write and update this area, the word "Church" is really not the best word use from the original language. The word we have in most Bibles as "Church" in Greek is "ekklésia": an assembly, a (religious) congregation. The Hebrew word is "qahal": assembly, convocation, congregation. So really this misleading translation of the word as "Church" instead of "assembly" has brought a division that should not be there. Because of this, most see the "church" as being born or something new at the time of Jesus (Yeshua). But there was a "church" (assembly) in the wilderness. We can see this in Acts 7:37-38 where some translations use the word "church" in the wilderness to talk about when God (YeHoVaH) gave His Commandments to Moses and other translations use the word "assembly" in the wilderness. The assembly of God (YeHoVaH) has been there all along. Jesus (Yeshua) did not come to start a new religion. He did not come to start a "church" but he came to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of God (YeHoVaH) (see Luke 4:43) and to bring both the House of Israel and the House of Judah back together as one Holy Assembly. Followers of Jesus are to be graphed into Israel not separated from Israel. We all, Jew and Gentiles are of the assembly of the People of God (YeHoVaH). (those from the nations "Gentiles", could possibly include those from the Lost Tribes of Israel for Jesus (Yeshua) said in Matthew 15:24 KJV "... I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.") See Ezekiel 37 for more of the joining together the House of Israel and the House of Judah. Either way, we all are to be One in Messiah now.
Also I know that much of this was original written below is without the more Hebraic Roots view or wording because I often quoted others that don't have that understanding at the time. But it is also, I believe the information is very valuable and much insight can be gained from their writings and applied within Hebraic Roots groups as well.
The True Church or Assembly of Believers are not a building or even the structure full of all the religious traditions and customs which often control our worship services as well as our whole understanding of what a “Church” is. So what is the real definition of “Church”? The real “Church” refers to the “Assembly of Believers”. Often times it is the people of Messiah that make up the “Assembly” that has allowed the structure of how we do "church" keep us receiving from the Father all that He is wanting for us today. Over the years we have simply adopted institutional structures and designs for “Church” that are not like the original design of Jesus (Yeshua) or the original "Assembly of Believers."
Church is not a building or institutional structures that we worship in….
The Assembly of Believers is the Body of Messiah!
But there is good news that many of these institutional structures we often refer to as “Church” have become more pliable and yielded to the Holy Spirit. Many within the Body of Messiah have realize the importance of small cell type of groups within the Church that are really more like the original Church (Assembly) that Jesus (Yeshua) started. It seems that these Churches that have the small groups within them are allowing more of real Church to take place. They have become a place where each member is allowed to grow and exercise their gifts and callings within these small groups. It is also often that within these small groups that new followers of Jesus (Yeshua) are allowed to become a real disciple and not just a believer.
Larry Kreider in his book “House to House” says, “To be most effective in building His church, we believe that it is God’s plan for us to follow Jesus’ model of training through small groups.” He goes on to say, “Cell groups are not simply a program of the church; they are a place where people have the chance to experience and demonstrate New Testament Christianity built on relationships, not simply on meetings.”
I think that even within the more traditional institutional designed Churches that don’t have official cell groups, we see natural small groups that develop. Often times these groups develop within Sunday School classes, Men Fellowships or Women Fellowships and even the Choirs, Youth Groups or other small groups within the Church. Within these groups the closeness builds on relationships and not simply on the meetings as well. But to fully follow the model of Jesus (Yeshua) it seems that the cell or small groups are closer to the original Church or "Assembly".
It seems that today, for the most part, the traditional Church is base around more of a performance of show than the original Church. Today most Churches have pews or rows of chairs all facing the front stage area so that each person is looking at the back of the head of someone sitting in front of them. Often there are more professional musicians performing and then all are to listen to the professional minister preach or teach the Word. There is not the spontaneous interaction that would occur within a small group or cell group.
Frank Viola in his book, “Reimagining Church” when talking about the New Testament Gatherings says, “In this gathering, the Lord Jesus was free to speak through whomever He chose and in whatever capacity He saw fit. There was no fixed liturgy to tie His hands or box Him In.”
He goes on to say, “In the first-century gathering, neither the sermon nor “the preacher” was the center of attention. Instead, congregational participation was the divine rule.” Frank further goes on to say, “The meeting reflected a flexible spontaneity where the Spirit of God was in utter control. He was free to move through any member of the body as He willed (1Cor. 14:26, 31). And if He was allowed to lead the entire meeting, everything would be done in an orderly fashion (1Cor. 14:40).”
In most Assemblies today you would not see this freedom of the Holy Spirit or of the people within to participate. The structure just does not allow it. No matter what the institutional design of Assembly you attend, the Holy Spirit has to be in total control to have free will in His Assembly in order for the Glory of God to have free reign. This can and does happen in more traditional Assembly of Believers where the leadership is sensitive to the Holy Spirit and willing to yield his or her “time table” and “schedule” to God’s Time Table and what He wants to do. However, this flexibility seems to be more prevalent in a non-structured small group setting then the larger traditional institutional Assemblies.
Today’s Assembly of Believers, no matter if it is a small cell group type or a more traditional type, must yield to the Holy Spirit. I am saying this because to just have a small group setting does not necessary mean that it too will not start to have religious structures (traditions and customs) that will make it no different than just a small scale version of the traditional Assembly. And at the same time, a traditional Assembly can have within it the freedom as well as the reproductive growth that God is looking for when yielded to the Holy Spirit. God has and continues to use both kinds of Assembly of Believers.
Yet if we desire for the Assembly of Believers today to truly become more like the first Assembly of Believers and more like The Rabbi (Yeshua), we must be willing to change and attempt to redesign it to be able to function and make disciples the way Jesus taught us to. It is then that we have the best opportunity to really walk and be more Like The Rabbi (Yeshua). We need to get back to the basics. We may need to get rid of all religious traditions, customs and structures that hinder the flow of God or at least be sensitive to the Holy Spirit so that we will yield our “time table” and “schedule” to God’s Time Table and what He wants to do. Often the religious structures (traditions and customs) that we have built keep us separated from receiving the Glory of God in its Fullness! And it is within the “Fullness” that will allow us to really reach our full potential in the Messiah.
Don't just take my word for it, let us all look back at the Jesus (Yeshua) and his first disciples and see just how “Assembly of Believers” done it then. Let us go back and look again at our mission.
What is the mission of the Assembly of Believers?
The Assembly’s mission is the Great Commission. Jesus (Yeshua) said, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV)
This commandment is the same for us today. If you take the phase, “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you", and see that this Great Commission is one of the things Jesus commanded them to do, then it is to go on and on and on. We are to do the same today. We too are to make disciples and teach them to go and make disciples as well.
How did the early Follower of Jesus (Yeshua) do this?
They followed the example of Jesus in making disciples by focusing on a small group of people. They seemed to have what we might think of as unusual in today’s world. They often met in homes. (see Acts 2:2, 2:46, 5:42, 9:17, 10:25, 12:12, 16:34, 18:7, 20:8, 20:20) But if one really thinks about it, this method can be duplicated in all cultures and in all nations around the world. One does not need to invest in a large building and building project. They can start where they are and reproduce as needed by meeting in other houses as the groups multiply and new leaders are developed.
Yes there were also places referred to as the Church (Assembly of Believers) of a town or region but they often were made up of these many small groups of Simple Churches that came together within that area or region. This can also be the same today. Many Institutional Churches, which have adopted small groups within the Body, also come together as a bigger Body to have corporate worship and teaching often on Sunday mornings or groups within Hebrew Roots that keep the Sabbath may come together in groups on the Sabbath or during the Feasts of the LORD (YeHoVaH). They also come together when a special gifted teacher comes in the area that can share and impart to the whole Church of the area etc.
Felicity Dale in her work book, “Getting Started; A Practical Guide to Planting Simple Churches”, Second Editions talks about three different types of the term “Church” used in the New Testament. The first type she says is the Church that meets at a person's house like in Romans 16:4. She also mentions the Church that meets in a location like we see in Acts 15:4 and Galatians 1:2. And the third type is the Church universal as seen in Ephesians 1:22, 23. She goes on to write the follow:
“Throughout the world God is blessing in traditional and cell churches of every description, as well as the house church movements. Within many of the traditional and cell-based models of church, we see the Holy Spirit nudging people towards something more organic, based on smaller groups. All three models of church need to be working together to advance the Kingdom of God in any way that they can.”
The process that most traditional church uses to reproduce just is not that practical. Felicity Dale goes on to give some figures from the Southern Baptist that estimates that it takes at least $320,000 to start a new traditional church if you include a building, the pastor's training and first year's salary. This sounds kind of high to just start a church. And one will wonder just how long it will take to reproduce that church and start another one that is if it ever does reproduce.
Felicity Dale goes on to quote some other statistics. “According to David Barrett of the World Christian Encyclopedia, it costs $330,000 for each newly baptized person. Tragically, the “average” evangelical church only sees one or two new converts a year. Since we all know of churches that see hundreds converts each year, this means that, actually, the “average” evangelical church probably sees no converts in any given year!”
The above makes another interesting concept. The Great Commission given by Jesus (Yeshua) tells us to go and make disciples yet is seems that most churches are satisfied with making converts or just making believers that never really become a true disciples that reproduce other disciples.
How did Jesus (Yeshua) evangelize and make disciples?
He chooses a group of twelve. This was Jesus' main nucleus to reach the world. Yes, He taught and ministered to larger groups, but His core was the 12 disciples. When I joined and was ordained within The Missionary Church International back in 1995, Bishop Benjamin H. Covington sent me a book that has been a blessing to me as well as many around the world. This book is "The Master Plan of Evangelism" by Robert E. Coleman. If you have never read it or if it has been a while since you have read it, I recommend you go get a copy of that book and read it. I will attempt to summarize part of what Coleman said. In the first part of the book Robert Coleman explains how the whole process could be divided into eight parts.
The Master and His Plan
Jesus (Yeshua) had a deliberate strategy of evangelism that was in fact discipleship. We see this within the Great Commission. All Jesus (Yeshua) ever said or did was a part of the divine strategy of discipleship for Him. But the concept the church of today must never overlook is that as He was executing His plan, He was also setting forth a strategy of evangelism and discipleship for His Assembly of Believers for all time
Consequently, it is not the task of the church to invent a new strategy. Our task is to rediscover the ways of the Jesus (Yeshua) and follow in his steps. There is abundant evidence that the following of past traditions and the conformity to present religious culture have kept many churches from capturing his concept. Today many don't resemble much like The Rabbi (Yeshua) or the way the first disciple walked. When we do catch sight of it, it proves to be so different that its implications are nothing short of revolutionary. But for God's best blessings on us we need to be doing his plan and not ours. It must be done, even as the price of getting rid of some unnecessary religious activities and of altering some organizational structures which may have been started within good intentions but ultimately has kept us from reaching the full potential that the Messiah has place within us.
According to Robert Coleman’s book the process begins with the “Selection” that Jesus (Yeshua) made of twelve very ordinary men to follow Him. One is hardly impressed with the outward qualifications of the small group. They were rather common folk but they were teachable. And it was on this small group that Jesus concentrated His earthly ministry. It was this small group of people that the Rabbi intended to duplicate and reach the whole world.
Now Jesus (Yeshua) still ministered to many others but his focus and main purpose of ministry seem to be to train the few. Rabbi Yeshua was wise enough to see that before the multitudes could be permanently helped, they would need more personal care than He alone could give. To meet that need the goal was to train disciples to go and do as he did. His real hope of ministry to them lay in training a small group who could later lead the multitudes in the things of God.
Rabbi Yeshua chose each of the first disciples because he saw in them the potential for himself to be reproduced within them. This is also the reason he has chosen you. He sees the full potential within you as well.
The next step Robert Coleman calls “Association”. The essence of the Rabbi Yeshua's training program of was simply having His disciples with Him. Just like he spent time with the Father in pray and soaking in the Father's Presence, he knew that if they too would copy him that they too would tap into that potential that God had placed in them. As we spend time with and allow the Holy Spirit to fill us completely we will be changed into the image of the Rabbi. Almost everything Jesus (Yeshua) is recorded as having done; He did in the presence of at least some of His disciples so that by association they could learn or catch hold spiritual what he was doing.
The third step Coleman called “Consecration”. Jesus' (Yeshua's) first requirement of His followers was a willingness to obey Him. It is similar to the children sermon my father would do asking if one child was willing to do whatever he asked, then he would give them the silver dollar.
The one thing Rabbi Yeshua insisted on was loyalty to him. Jesus (Yeshua) continued to insist on this even when loyalty became increasingly difficult. They saw Rabbi Yeshua following and obeying the Father each and every day. So they follow Jesus (Yeshua) as he followed and obeyed God. It has been said before that one cannot be a leader who has not first learned of be a follower. Rabbi Yeshua knew this principle. He knew that development of character and purpose would come only through obedience. We today need to be obedient to God in all our ways. We need to be willing to do whatever is asked of us.
Robert Coleman then says that “Impartation” took place. The disciples could not just do the work of the ministry within their own power. They needed the Holy Spirit in them just like the Holy Spirit was in Rabbi Yeshua. The twelve could never do that they were called to do without the impartation of Jesus' (Yeshua's) own life to them. This he did when he sent the Holy Spirit to indwell their lives. In giving the Holy Spirit to his followers, Jesus (Yeshua) was also equipping them for ministry. And so it is today. Jesus' (Yeshua's) followers must have the indwelling Holy Spirit if the Rabbi's work is to be accomplished in and through the church today. Only then can we reach our full potential in Messiah.
Next, according to Coleman, Jesus (Yeshua) demonstrated the kind of life Rabbi Yeshua planned for his people to live. This “demonstration” allowed them so see and experience it firsthand. Just like often one can tell one how to drive a car, one can learn much better if it is demonstrated to them. He purposely let them see him talking with his Heavenly Father in prayer. They saw what it did for him and desired to know more of its power in their own lives. They were powerfully impressed of its power in their own lives. They learned as they watched him practice before them what he wanted them to learn. They saw firsthand the miracles and healings take place. The disciples seemed to catch some of the anointing of Jesus (Yeshua) by just being around Rabbi Yeshua. This also seemed make a difference in them later being able to also do the same work. Clark Taylor from Australia has often said as he teaches and demonstrates the ways of the Spirit, that it is “caught more than it is taught”. This is true today as well. Many can go to school and get much book knowledge but to see it demonstrated can be much more powerful and meaningful.
We saw that first, Rabbi Yeshua led them into a vital relationship with God the Father; and then he showed them how he worked. But He was always working with them to move them toward the time they would take over his ministry. According to Coleman this next step Jesus (Yeshua) would use “delegation” to his disciple.
We see that after all the training above Jesus (Yeshua) realized they were ready do the work of their own. Jesus (Yeshua) was careful to thoroughly instruct them before sending them out. I think it is interesting that Jesus (Yeshua) told them to concentrate their work on the more promising individuals who could carry on the work after they had gone. Too often we tend to waste much time when the person is not ready. We can learn a lot by going back and review the Rabbi's teaching on the Soil and the Seed. Another important fact is that he told them to expect hardship and sent them, two by two, on their mission. We often need to always have a partner in ministry as well as in discipleship to be successful. They went out and did the work assigned to them.
Rabbi Yeshua got with them after they returned from their mission. He had them report what had happen and he shared with them his knowledge about difficulties they might have encountered or victories they might have won. Coleman calls this part “supervision”. Jesus (Yeshua) supervised them along the way. When He finally did leave them to go back to the Father, he promised the Holy Spirit to them and it would then be the Holy Spirit that would continue to supervise their work. This same Holy Spirit is for us as well today to be with us, to teach us and to supervise and guide us as well continue to walk after Rabbi Yeshua’s ways.
Coleman says the last step is “reproduction”. The ultimate goal was and is for Jesus' (Yeshua's) disciples to reproduce the Rabbi within them. They were and are to become like the Rabbi. They were to go and make disciples.
The ultimate victory would come through the disciple’s faithful witness of the Gospel of the Kingdom with demonstrations of power that again would be reproduced and taught to their disciples to reproduce. If this type of discipleship would have continued to be followed we would see a big difference. Reproduction was our Lord's desire for the twelve but multiplication was the ultimate end.
The early Assembly of Believers incorporated the plan of winning and developing men to reproduce, proved the work ability of Jesus' (Yeshua's) plan; but over the centuries we witness the virtual abandonment of it for one of mass recruitment. The need of the hour is a return to the kind of discipleship which majors in men winning other men to the Messiah and building those they have won into disciples who can win and build others. Maybe it is time that the Church (Assembly of Believers) return back to the basics and follow the teaching and example of the Rabbi once again. Maybe we need to go back and keep it simple. We seem to have over complicated Church so much with our religious rituals and traditions. With the first disciples, instead of a “Complicated Church” it was a very “Simple Church” that could easily be reproduced. I believe if we will return to the simple way that Rabbi Yeshua did discipleship we can change the world. If we do this and obey the Great Commission we will start to see us reaching our full potential in the Messiah like never before. We will make a difference in the Kingdom of God.
THE MASTER PLAN OF RABBI YESHUA: Is really a very simple way of doing it.
Do we want to be more “Like The Rabbi”? Jesus used Selection, Association, Consecration, Impartation, Demonstration, Delegation, Supervision, and Reproduction. If Jesus (Yeshua) chose this type of method to evangelize I think we should at least consider it also.
THE POTENTIAL OF BUILDING DISCIPLES USING SMALL GROUP AND CELL GROUPS
This method can be used within the traditional church using small groups or cell groups. This method can also be used outside of the traditional church through a network of House Assemblies or Simple Assemblies. In fact due to the high cost of traditional churches to be reproduced and maintained, often in other countries, Simple Churches are growing like a Holy Wild Fire.
Larry Kreider in this book, “House to House” writes, “Like cell churches, house churches are relational and all members are liberated to serve as ministers. However, house churches are different in that each functions as a real church in a home complete with eldership. Cell churches, while meeting in homes during the week, are part of a larger unit – led by eldership at the congregational level. I firmly believe that we need many kinds of churches to fulfill the Great Commission. From traditional churches to cell based churches to new house church networks – the Lord will use all types to help bring in the harvest during this last days.”
Let us play a numbers game and see the potential of growth with these small groups. For illustration will use two groups of 10 meeting in homes or meeting places. Let's take these 20 people. This is just a small amount when one looks at all that confess Jesus (Yeshua) as Lord and Savior. But let's say that these 20 people go out and find one person each that is willing to be a disciple. These 20 spend time helping these new disciples grow. The next year there would be 40 ready to go out to find one to disciple. Year 3 there would be 80, and so on. In just 12 years there would be 40,960 disciples. In 24 years there would be 167,772,160 disciples. All of these just from 20 committed people today willing to obey Jesus. If all Disciples today would do the same the Gospel would be preached to every person in the world in our lifetime.
We are to be "Living Stones" and we are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
1 Peter 2:1-10 (NIV)
"Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
The Living Stone and a Chosen People
As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (Yeshua HaMashiach ). For in Scripture it says:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”
Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,
“The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and, “A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.”
They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy."
Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)
"Then Jesus (Yeshua) came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
OK. It makes sense. I am to be a Living Stone and a Chosen People. This kind of "Discipleship" planting and growth can be done anywhere with little or no extra money and without having to build a building to meet in. But you may still ask, "Can I make a difference?"
Church Planting and Making a Difference in the Kingdom of God though Discipleship
Click Above for More Information
Selection – Association - Consecration – Impartation -
Demonstration – Delegation – Supervision – Reproduction
Picture with Dr. Kim Goldman and Chaim Goldman. They have a ministry called "Repairing the Breach" and Chaim's also has a ministry called "Hebraic Home Fellowships" .