The Messianic Movement has taken on a series of new identities which may not be recognised by either mainstream Christians, or other Messianic believers. Considering this I wanted to take a minute to explain some of the changes the movement has gone through over the last decade or so. Once upon a time the Messianic movement consisted of Jewish believers in Yeshua and the Gentiles that supported them. Their services consisted of traditional Jewish worship practices such as the Sh'ma, V'ahafta and/or the Alenu and also had Jewish choruses and prayers ending with the Aaronic Blessing. However in recent times we seem to have had an offshoot of this group called the Jewish roots movement, and it appears to have become nothing more than Pentecostalism with Jewish overtones, and not even what I would call sound Pentecostalism.
These guys are thoroughly trumphalistic with either a few or none of the worship practices mentioned above. So disturbing is this, that many mainstream churches are beginning to turn their backs on these Messianic groups, calling them Judaisers. I have had a few harsh discussions with some of these people, and frankly the whole movement has begun to be discredited as a result of these people and the things they get up to. This is quite a shame since for a number of years as we have been growing, we have been working hard to try and engage the churches in dialogue over how to understand their Jewish heritage from a biblical perspective; not trying to judaise them, as I was once told. It's really all about what you find in the New Testament and how that works out in the practice of the New Testament worship.
One of the main reasons for starting these fellowships was so people would be able to share the gospel with their Jewish neighbours, because the Gospel is to the Jew first as we read in Romans 1:16. In setting up our worship services we deliberately made them as Jewish as possible, so they would be comfortable with Jewish people, as they get a lot of friction from their families on becoming believers and need the support. Some churches at this time adopted something of this messianic style so as to support us in the field. However this has been hijacked by fringe charismatic groups, who have little chance of being a witness to Jews because of their western church type style, which had them dressing up as Jews with kippurs, talits, and even tzit-tzits, (Worshipful clothing Jews wear) blowing shofars etc but continuing services in a western church type style. It's a total turn-off for Jewish people, and looks like they are mocking them.
We all need prayer and financial support, and that is the best way to give us a chance to bring these Jewish people into the fold. My suggestion to you if you are thinking of learning about your Jewish heritage, or if you are not Jewish but wish to become more knowledgable either as a single person or married couple. Please get a proper Messianic teacher to teach you; that would be a great start to your continuation. Also make sure you join a Messianic congregation that is Biblically correct. Such a group or teacher would emphasise grace over legalism, and be more focused on Yeshua than anything else. Do not be put off by liturgy as many Christian groups tend to dispise liturgy, but its good to have a mixture of both liturgy and free open worship.
There is much value for your soul in finding a good Messianic teacher who is properly focused on Yeshua along with expounding the scriptures to give a balanced view on the Hebraic understanding of the faith.Remember Jesus was Jewish, so were the Apostles, and we would not have the Bible if it was not for Jews, so it figures we need to teach the scriptures from the culture in which it was delivered. Because whatever has happened since, what it was then is what it should be now.
Why become Messianic?
Many people in Christian churches want to know why we have such a thing as a Messianic movement, and what it means to be Messianic.
If you were to do a survey of believers in the UK on these very points, you would come up with a variety of answers. Some would say they are Messianic because they are Jewish and that would be perfectly understandable. However when it comes to Gentile believers, many would say that their churches have in recent years gone away from the confines of scripture, and they were looking to get back to where it all started with the early church. As they retrace their steps they would see just how much of the world has gotten into the church, how praise and worship has just become entertainment and has failed to rejuvenate the faithful. They would see how churches were more about making converts and not making disciples, having no real teaching programmes that truly educate the flock of G-d. In some cases picking up damnable heresies, that leave people confused and wondering what they got themselves into. The result being that many have just given up and wander around other groups and churches aimlessly looking for something they don't know what, which seems to make sense of scripture.The truth is that what the church was at conception, it should be now. After all, it was the Apostle who wrote in Corinthians 4:6 that we “learn not to think beyond what is written”, and in Corinthians 11:2: “Keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you”
Now we have gone far away from those traditions, which has taken us into a very different realm from that which was laid down by the Apostles, leaving many of us unfruitful as a result of denominationalism which segregates. We don't need denomination - we all have one denomination and it's the kingdom of G-d; we should all strive to build that kingdom.
Charismania has also taken us away from that which is precious. Not that it's wrong to praise the Lord, but the constant attempts to whip up the congregation in every single meeting is for many unfruitful, as though it's more important to to put on a positive front than be honest. We do not go to every meeting feeling fantastic, and above all G-d the Father knows this, so who are we kidding? It's important that we be very real before Him so He can, and will, lift us up; in His time, not the worship leader's.
So what is Messianic?
To be Messianic is to fulfil the role of the one new man of Ephesians 2:15. Scripture teaches us in that same chapter of Eph 2, v12: “that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without G-d in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” So now we ought to blend our service and culture so that it has a Jewish flavour and culture, because nobody told us to reinvent the wheel or gave us permission to invent a Western Christian Model. This is what we have in the UK, but it's based on a Greco-Roman cultural model as a result of the scripture coming down to us in that format. It has taken us a long time to get back on track, but still there are many that will not accept this or anything remotely Jewish. That is an almighty shame, because it has sent many astray and left many wondering what it is all about. I have heard people say I would rather go to the working man's club than to church.
I have even had people rejecting Jewish people that want to get to know Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) or try to inform them that they do not want their Jewish ways here. I have to say to such people that they are on dangerous ground; if you don't believe me read Matthew 25. This blend of our culture with Jewish culture is very exciting. However many have said they do not like services with liturgy as they want to be free. I would ask the question, "from what?" Some of the Jewish liturgy was said by the Lord Himself and He was happy with it - we may have to change a little but it is very rewarding to sing some of the Jewish choruses in the Hebrew language with the English always beside it.