So what is Messianic Judaism’s Purpose?

The Messianic Jewish movement currently finds itself in the midst of a rabid identity crisis. From its inception, Messianic Judaism’s primary goal has been to be a home and way of life for Jewish followers of Yeshua. However, if we are honest with ourselves we must admit that our efforts have largely been a failure. In the decades since our recent inception, we have not yet succeeded at creating a JEWISH Messianic Movement.

Where did we get distracted?

First, let me clarify what I am NOT saying. I recognize there is a definite place for non-Jews who are legitimately called to Messianic Judaism. We applaud the efforts of those non-Jews who have chosen to sojourn among the Jewish people and who have sacrificed greatly in order to be a part of our communities. However, by our own fault, and the simple overwhelming number of non-Jewish followers of Yeshua, the result of Messianic Judaism has largely been reduced to being a Torah revival for Christians.

Now – please hear me out before your start throwing rocks …

I bring this up because it is detrimental to our future. We have largely missed why we should exist and for what purpose. We have been distracted, chasing controversies that only continue to marginalize those Jews we seek to embrace. Although there is a place for discussions like “the role of Torah for non-Jews,” the overwhelming attention placed on these issues affecting non-Jews carries very little weight for Jews. For most Jews being Jewish and living a particular Jewish way of life (the way they so choose) is a no brainer. So why would an intelligent Jewish person want to get mixed up with our baggage? Afterall, many of the issues we seem to find ourselves wrapped up in have very little to do with someone who is Jewish.

And it is not just those on the “outside.” We are loosing young Jews even within our own ranks who have not yet been compelled with a good enough reason to remain Messianic. It is not faith in Yeshua that is largely the stumbling block keeping us from effectively being a home to Jewish believers and seekers – it is our own hang ups. If we do not come to grips with a clear purpose and vision for Messianic Judaism we will find ourselves extinct.

Nearly 95% of all Messianic congregations’ websites state the purpose of a Messianic congregation is “to be a congregation of Jews and non-Jews worshiping together.” Really? That is the sole purpose of a Messianic congregation? In my opinion, this is exactly where we got distracted. Although I value Messianic congregations as being places where Jews and non-Jews can worship together, this should not be our primary purpose. Rather, it should be a byproduct.

We believe a Messianic congregation should exist for only three primary purposes:

  1. To be a home for Jewish followers of Yeshua;
  2. To be a welcoming environment for Jewish seekers open to exploring our claims that Yeshua is the Messiah;
  3. And a place to raise our children as Messianic Jews.

All other efforts and programs are secondary to these primary goals. We must exist to be vibrant spiritual homes for Jews. Otherwise we fail to accomplish our prophetic purpose.

Directing our primary focus on Jews does not in and of itself alienate non-Jews. For any congregational growth specialist will note that no specific congregation can be all things to all people. In the past we have tried to do it all – and it has not worked. We need to come back to our primary purpose. However, at the same time we must be careful not to purposely alienate non-Jews in our midst. Regardless of a person’s background, if a person shares a commitment to the above primary values they should be invited to pursue this prophetic task along with us. Jews and non-Jews worshiping together may be a byproduct of a much clearer purpose, but should not be the primary purpose.

We must first and foremost be vibrant spiritual homes for Jews and directing our efforts as such. If we do this, hopefully everything should fall into place.

About Rabbi Joshua

I'm a Rabbi, writer, thinker, mountain biker, father and husband ... not necessarily in that order. According to my wife, however, I'm just a big nerd. I have degrees in dead languages and ancient stuff. I have studied in various Jewish institutions, including an Orthodox yeshiva in Europe. I get in trouble for making friends with perfect strangers, and for standing on chairs to sing during Shabbos dinner. In addition to being the Senior Rabbi of Simchat Yisrael Messianic Synagogue in West Haven, CT, I write regularly for several publications and speak widely in congregations and conferences. My wife is a Southern-fried Jewish Beltway bandit and a smokin' hot human rights attorney... and please don’t take offense if I dump Tabasco sauce on your cooking.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.