Competition and Collaboration in Jewish Ministry

By Theresa Newell, LCJE Coordinator for North America

LCJE CEO Conference
May 2005

How can we share our knowledge (perhaps when we are asking the same people to support us) and can we not be jealous about the personnel, resources and knowledge we have. If you can be practical about how this can be done through setting up data bases to which we all contribute and have access it will be most helpful. Can we do training together? And can you think of more ways to pool resources.

The best experience I had early on in ministry of cooperation among ministries in a city was when I worked on the Billy Graham Crusade team in Washington DC in the early 1980s. Hundreds of pastors and lay people were organized into special groups to work throughout the long crusade which thousands of people attended each evening. A small group of us met with the leadership to ask if we could have a special counseling team at the crusade each evening for Jewish people who might come forward for prayer. Billy Graham had made a statement (it may have been later) about “targeting” Jewish people in evangelism. But we saw that there were special teams being prepared for Koreans, Chinese, Vietnamese and other “special” groups. So we asked “why not for the Jews?” We did get an OK and supplied teams each night especially to minister to Jewish people. A number of Jewish people were sent to the team and some of them committed their lives to Jesus during the Crusade.

But I was most impressed by the organization of such a Crusade. Many in their team had worked for years to strategize to bring the church leaders in the city together around the Crusade. They had set up data bases and phone systems (computers weren’t the thing then).

This thought led me to a very large picture and then several smaller ones. I wondered what it would be like if CPM and JFJ and CJFM and Ariel and Apple of His Eye and Rock of Israel and Paul Wilbur and Marty Goetz and Stan Telchin and Joel Chernoff and Russ Resnik and Dan Juster and drama teams and music teams and Jewish art teams all hit the same city at the same time! Talk about total saturation! So I am excited about this idea.

How to do it is the question. Well, I have a simple approach which is that everything happens through relationships. LCJE is unique in its call to network us together. Should we share some kind of data base together? I am not sure that ministries need to have each other’s full mail list, but getting a group email list among even the leaders who are here, or a group list for those in each of your countries would be a good beginning. Also, if such a super-saturation on a site would ever happen, ministries would need to think cooperatively: do I have contacts in that place that can go into a main data base for pre-saturation organization work? Do I have personnel on the ground there or nearby? What gifts will be needed that I can share to make this campaign a success?

On a smaller scale, when we set up the LCJE website, I thought that we should have a page on which all the agency members could put up a joint EVENTS CALENDAR. This would also be just a beginning, but at least we would know where major outreach events were happening and we could pray for each other and perhaps participate or encourage people we know in those areas to help out.

The way I figure it, there are 15 million Jewish people on the globe. About 14.8 million of them are not saved. So why should there be competition?? There is plenty to do. Of course the answer to my question is resources – financial, personnel, territory… The problem isn’t the unsaved Jewish people as much as that limited number of supporters that each ministry can call on for support to get their job done. It’s the pool of young new workers – who will they work for? There never seem to be enough workers.

And then there is training of workers to think about. Most of the larger ministries that I know have been very generous in absorbing a few trainees into their regular training sessions who will never work for their missions. I think this is most commendable.

And there are materials needed to run a campaign of any size. Lots of times we become aware of the training resources and various ministry materials – like CDs or videos – that are available. I notice that books offered by various ministries in our area of Jewish evangelism often overlap. Could there be a joint catalogue with the names of the ministries to contact for the materials?

Another idea we talked about but which has not gotten off the ground is a “Message Board” through the website. It is set up and passwords were sent out, but it was very little used and basically hasn’t succeeded. This was mainly envisioned as a place to share ideas and debate pertinent questions. Maybe no one has time for this or maybe it needs one good volunteer to make it all work and hold it together. If you have ideas about this, please let me know.

Email contact is most frequent. Again we tend to talk to those in our own organizations, but a list serve could be a way to get info out to each other.

Our conferences are a place for people to come together. I know that leaders cross many lines and lots of information seems to get exchanged at the conferences. Perhaps we could schedule a session to simply talk about ways we can cooperate or do joint ventures together at a conference in the future. Or use a small group format – which we haven’t done in North American conferences – to get some real work done along these lines.

Perhaps the first conversation we need to have together is: Do we want to work together? Have any of us succeeded in some kind of joint venture for evangelism? I think of the combined teams that go in the “Go East” travel from Israel with Danish Israel Mission, Operation Mobilization folks and others who join on and train at the Caspari Center. I think this is a good model. Could it work in your country or mine?

In Pittsburgh just now we are working together with many churches and some Messianic congregational leaders as we prepare for the Behold Your God campaign in September. This is the kind of all-hands outreach in a city that made me think back to my Billy Graham Crusade adventure. Seminarians, pastors from many different churches, intercessors, messianic leaders, and church members and students will all be involved. Stan Telchin will come to give his testimony; Michael Brown and Rabbi Boteach will debate and there will be a concert with lots of media coverage. Pittsburgh will know that the message of Jesus as Messiah has come to town and hopefully into many hearts.

Individualism is, unfortunately, the mark of the Western culture. When I talk with my Indian and African friends, this is not a problem. When I ask: how did you evangelize that other village? They tell me: “O, we just picked a preacher, some people who play the drum, someone who can read the Bible and we ask everyone else to be praying for us. Then we walk to that village and go to the market where everyone is gathered, and we start beating the drum and singing and praising the Lord for an hour or so…until a good crowd has gathered. Then our preacher preaches the Word and end with an invitation to receive Jesus. So many people come forward and we all pray with them. Then we leave one of our brothers with them to disciples them and the next time we come, there is a church in that village.” Maybe it’s the drum we’re missing!!

So we can learn from our non-Western brothers and sisters. Yes, the culture is different and methods may be different, but their heart is right and they are obeying the call to go forth together. These are the places where the Gospel is spreading and the church is growing. And I want to drop my Western individualism and work with all of you to make this thing about getting the Gospel to the Jewish people happen.

Theresa Newell