A Ministry Grows in Brooklyn
Messianic leaders explore new strategies for reaching the Jewish community in the U.S. and Israel.
Tony Carnes • Christianity Today
Earlier this year, Chosen People Ministries, a Messianic Jewish organization, purchased an 11,000-square-foot building in the heart of Orthodox Brooklyn.
"If you walk out the door and turn left, you are in an Orthodox Jewish community," says president Mitch Glaser. "And if you turn right, you will be able to buy the best borscht you have ever tasted."
Once rehabbed, the building will allow the organization to provide substance-abuse counseling and to teach English as a second language. It will house a library for Messianic research and a 150-seat sanctuary. It will also host an accredited pastoral training program in partnership with an evangelical seminary.…
"Most ministries and organizations need to reinvent themselves after some time, or their methods and strategies can become stultified," Glaser told CT. "This was true of Chosen People, which had accomplished great things over the course of over 100 years of ministry. Reaching Jewish people in a Jewish way is at the heart of our time-tested strategy."
For Glaser, a first strategic step was moving the organization's headquarters from Charlotte, North Carolina, back home to New York City. Another step was rethinking strategy based on significant changes among Jews and Messianic believers. Changes include the following:
• The emigration of two million Soviet Jews, who left Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union and are impacting Jewish populations in the U.S. and Israel. Some 20 percent of Israel's current Jewish population is from the former Soviet Union.
• The revival of Orthodox Judaism, which is bolstering the influence of Orthodox Jews. Precise numbers are hard to come by, but an estimated 525,000 American Jews are Orthodox, about 10 percent of the American Jewish population. In Israel, about one million Jews are Orthodox, about 17 percent of the country's Jewish population.
Orthodox families also have the highest birthrate of any Jewish subgroup, so the Orthodox are becoming a greater percentage of all Jews. This means that outreach must explain the gospel in ways that are comprehensible to the Orthodox.…
Glaser believes attitudes are changing. Messianic Jews are more willing to overlook ill will coming from the Jewish community. In a few cases, Messianic believers are looking to take their place in Jewish community affairs. "As long as there is clear fidelity to the essentials of the faith [and] the preaching of the gospel, we will encourage Jewish believers in Jesus to remain part of the Jewish community.
"It is important to try to lessen the potential conflict between the Jewish community and our preaching of the gospel whenever possible," he says. "Our methods and strategies need to change with the day, yet we must at all costs communicate the facts of the gospel without compromise."
[Hat Tip: Bernard Mandelbaum • Heeb Magazine.]