Greetings to all of you. Patty and I will soon finish our three-month stint in the United States. This is now our schedule. As a couple, Patty and I plan to be in America for three months a year from mid-May to mid-August primarily to strengthen the congregations in the Tikkun America Network and to make connection to church partners for the Israel focus of ministry that Ben and Lorena Juster share with us in Restoration from Zion of Tikkun Global. I will also be in America annually for 3 weeks in November. So, as you can all see, the focus for Patty and I is mainly Israel.
It is very interesting that at this stage of our life, Patty and I are very much renewing the focus of where we began in ministry some 49 years ago when I accepted my first call to pastor in Chicago at what became Adat Ha Tikvah. It was to build a discipling community emphasizing long term covenant relationships that last a life time. Some from those days are still close friends. The discipleship book, Growing to Maturity, which is by far the most widely used book on discipleship within Messianic congregations was developed from lessons I created for new believers in Chicago. It is now used in Russian, Spanish and Hebrew. We have seen good success in building discipling communities. This is central to Tikkun. However, we are growing and can see how we can do so much more.
Early on, Patty and I perceived that small groups for mutual support and accountability were essential to discipleship. One of our emphases going forward in Israel and America is still influence and help for our communities becoming serious discipling covenant communities based in small groups of mutual support and accountability. Recently Patty and I have connected to books that are from a movement Life Model Works. They were recommended to us from our leaders in Baltimore. They are amazing. Basically, they put forth an argument about discipleship being connected to correction and encouragement on how to walk out loving one’s enemies, not justifying ourselves, walking in humility and obeying the commandments of Yeshua.
Discipleship must not be only the rational information self, but the intuitive and automatic reaction self (some call this the right brain, but I use other terms since I am not a materialist). How this happens in community is a key. Most cannot be discipled without community where members are pledged to mutual encouragement and correction in humility. However, the authors point out that all have a narcissistic component that does not take correction or healthy exhortative messages well. Many leaders have strong narcissistic tendencies and cannot be corrected. They keep control by toxic shame messages and assertions. The books explain partly at least why so many leaders fall. They are not part of groups that foster real accountability and correction in humility, where they learn not to defend, argue or self-justify. This is a missing element in much of the Church world. For my readers who would like to get an introduction see Michael Hendricks and Jim Wilder, The Other Half of the Church.
Yes, we are still excited to do all we can to foster discipling covenant communities, that we do not lose our children in the next generation!