Messianic Congregations FAQ
Do I have to be Jewish to go to a Messianic congregation?
Why did Celebrate Messiah Ministries start Messianic congregations?
We believe that Jesus must be at the center of our life and worship style! Messianic congregations send a positive message to both the Jewish community and to the churches: that faith in Yeshua (Jesus) is compatible with Jewish life. They also serve as a reminder that the Jewish people are a key component of the Great Commission.
How is a Messianic congregation different from a church?
How is a Messianic congregation different from a synagogue?
What types of Jewish traditions are observed in Messianic congregations?
- Sabbath worship (Friday evening and/or Saturday morning)
The greatest concentration of Jewish traditions will typically be seen in the context of the weekly Sabbath worship service. Therein, you will likely find Hebrew liturgy, Israeli folk dance, traditional Jewish songs, procession of the Torah scroll, the sounding of a shofar (ram's horn) and other culturally Jewish components which should serve to proclaim the Messiahship of Yeshua (Jesus) and the preeminence of God's Word.
Are Messianic congregations evangelistic?
Jewish people are culturally raised to resist any consideration that Yeshua (Jesus) is Messiah. They must hear the Gospel numerous times before they begin to take it to heart. Once that happens, there is usually a time of deep personal reflection before they accept the Gospel, because of the stigma and conflict that this decision will generate from their family and community. To take that step within a community of faithful Jewish believers makes it not only easier to consider, but also provides support through the crucial, vulnerable stages as they begin their faith journey.
What do Messianic congregations teach about Jesus?
Why do Messianic congregations meet on Friday night/Saturday?
There is, however, no Scriptural support for this view. There is no clear Biblical mandate for meeting on a specific day of the week to worship the Lord. Some first century believers met on the first day of the week (Sunday), some today might meet on any given day. The Sabbath of Israel is the seventh day, which is Saturday. This has been true, according to the Scriptures, from Creation and has been honored by the Jewish people since the time of Moses, some 3500 years ago. In keeping with Jewish practice, tradition and culture, Messianic services continue the practice of Yeshua (Jesus) and his followers by keeping the Sabbath.
Messianic congregations meet on Friday night or Saturday morning to follow Jewish practice in order to sustain the identity and heritage of their members, as a witness to the Jewish roots of our faith and as a witness to the Jewish community. However, in keeping with the Lord's teaching (Mt. 12), Messianic believers are not legalistic in expecting that Christians will practice Sabbath-keeping on the seventh day. We understand that the culture of many Messiah-centered, Bible-believing churches is to practice their worship on the first day of the week.
What are the unique contributions of Messianic congregations?
Is it a good place to bring my Jewish friend?
If the Bible is taught from a Jewish perspective, expressing New Testament faith in a Jewish context, Messianic congregations can be a "seeker friendly" place for Jewish people. But if the congregation does not reach out to the Jewish community with the message of the Gospel, it runs the risk of becoming inward-looking and isolated.
What are Messianic congregations like in Israel?
Israeli believers in Yeshua are actively creating a form of Messianic Judaism that is unique in the world. Congregations are incredibly diverse, yet as a whole they have chosen their own path, which is distinct from the needs and norms of Diaspora Messianic Judaism. Not feeling a keen need to affirm their Jewish identity, their congregations typically dispense entirely with liturgy from the Siddur (prayer book). Musical instruments, which are forbidden in Synagogues, are in abundance. Yes, when you visit an Israeli Messianic congregation, there is a palpable sense that a great movement of the Spirit is happening here!
Today, Israeli congregations have their own songs, their own teachers and their own associations which link them together. Nevertheless, they are amazingly diverse - as varied as the people of Israel itself.
Some of the diversity is due to the origins of those who founded them. Thus some are more charismatic, Pentecostal, evangelical or mainline in their worship styles. Some Messianic Congregations were founded before the modern State of Israel was established in 1948 - either by early pioneering Messianic Jews who saw the need to worship in their own truly Israeli way, or by venerable church institutions.
The various waves of immigration to Israel have introduced more diversity. Some Messianic congregations are almost entirely Russian, Ethiopian or American in their membership. Others are a veritable mosaic of nationalities. Sometimes a sermon is translated from Hebrew into English, then Russian, and finally into Romanian. Sitting through such a service is like sitting in an echo chamber!
Messianic Congregations also vary depending on their location; congregations in Tel Aviv are quite different than those in Jerusalem, which are different from those in the desert in the south. Needless to say, no two congregations are identical. Nevertheless, a common language, common worship music, and the natural effect of being together in a relatively small country increasingly bind them together. Wherever you attend, come to learn, love, and bless - and you will be blessed.
How can I find a local Messianic congregation?
With that said, a few pointers are in order. The best-known listing of Messianic Congregations - although it is far from comprehensive - is published by the newspaper Messianic Times. Other listings will turn up on a web search. But how can you find a congregation that is right for you?
It might help to know that there are three major affiliating bodies for Messianic congregations, and a majority of congregations in the world belong to one of them. There is the International Association of Messianic Congregations and Synagogues, the Union of Messianic Congregations, and the Association of Messianic Congregations. All three list their member congregations online.
Celebrate Messiah Ministries together with Chosen People Ministries have led and started many congregations over the years. These congregations often belong to one of the associations mentioned above.
How many Messianic congregations are there in the world?
So... what's the number? An educated estimate would be that there are 400 viable, functioning congregations worldwide. This number is a huge increase from the small handful of Messianic Congregations that existed 50 years ago - so it is nothing short of remarkable!