A phrase that could sound intimidating to some may be enticing to others. What does it mean and why is it distinct? If you have spent any time with us or in reading material on our site you may have already noticed that many topics pertain to relationships as well as to maturity. There is also a model for understanding the various stages that a community or fellowship group is in. We have found this to have great bearing on what approaches can apply to shepherding and decision making in general.
Let’s look at the five aspects of this phrase.
Messiah-Centered. Our intent and goal is that all that we say and do be centered in our relationship with Messiah Yeshua. We understand Him to be fully God and fully Man, not "just a prophet." Our central focus on worship has been a uniting and strengthening aspect of our community. As we study the Torah, we are also always confirming the Presence of Messiah in it, from Genesis to Revelation. As we address relationship concerns, our model is Messiah.
Torah Pursuant. When studying from a Hebraic perspective to understand the roots of our faith in Messiah Yeshua, one will often see the term, Torah observant, meaning that the people or community referred to are observing the commandments of Scriptures as in the Torah. Strictly speaking "Torah" would be the first five books of the Bible, but is often used as a general term for all of what Christian's have called the "Old Testament." We view it as inclusive of all of His teachings on righteousness. In our case, since most of us did not grow up in a family that observed Torah, we wish to acknowledge that we are aware that we have a great deal to learn and so are pursuing a Torah obedient lifestyle, rather than representing ourselves as "already there."
Relational: it is our understanding that Torah cannot be adequately observed without the context of community and the relationships that exist there. Since our Elohim is Himself, relational, we really couldn’t even begin to understand Him as much as we do without also knowing something of the quality of relationships among His people. His ways include recognition of position, family relationships, age, and growing relationship with YHWH. The relationships that reflect Messiah and His Word are very different in quality than those of people with other belief systems or lack of belief. It is in our relationships that the “rubbing” or “bruising” of one another occurs that leads to our sharpening. However, as one well known American Messianic leader put it, sadly, “our iron sharpening iron process can look more like a brawl with lead pipes.” Therefore it cannot be simply being in relationship with one another that can adequately encourage and exhort.
Maturity: as you will see in the community definition below, we believe that an understanding of the steps of maturing and appropriate age and stage expectations helps us define the relationships. It also helps us establish who is well enough equipped to offer wise counsel and who is still learning. All too often, people who are still at an earlier stage of maturity than their actual chronological age are trying to or being coerced into providing service that they are not yet equipped to offer. There are many different aspects to maturity from physical to psychological to emotional to spiritual. The overall summary form that we have chosen as a model is “The Life Model TM. “ This model has been a basis for both personal and corporate consideration, providing both ideals of maturity stages and how the family or community can help each person grow where needed.
Those who developed the Life Model are Christian Believers but not Torah pursuant, and in fact, in some ways opposed to observance of Torah. This has led them to develop some understandings that, to us, seem to contradict the importance of the Whole Word. Yet we remain convinced of the basic truths that this model helps us to address as we walk out Torah together, striving to grow toward maturity in Messiah. Thus, we do not recommend their resources after the basic one: Living from the Heart Jesus Gave you: The Life Model.
The Community Teaching Moments are short pieces in which a particular situation is examined through the eyes of the stages of maturity; putting forth a brief description of what a response from each stage might be. They are meant to provide a “snapshot” of behaviors that will help people apply the facts. They are also intended as conversation starters for groups that want to explore and apply maturity concepts in their fellowship group. Because we are Torah pursuant, some topics are included that wouldn’t come up in other venues.
Community: we have developed a description--
A multi-generational group of interdependent, like-minded people with a clear, stable identity based in YHWH, mutually defined and articulated as in a growing organism, with structure, authority, and boundaries; generally based in recognition of attained maturity, and the shared goal of set-apart living in daily interaction; an interdependent network of covenant relationships based in Echad with Messiah Yeshua.
This definition was arrived at through a rather lengthy community wide discussion and analysis of what we understand we are called to do. It remains an ideal and one that I have found needs to be revisited and articulated periodically. It is so easy to fall back into a more worldly idea of how people relate to one another. Most people’s church backgrounds did not include so much attention to the quality of all relationships all the time, 24/7, in much the same way that walking out the moedim/appointed times/Feasts is more encompassing than the Sunday Christmas/Easter form of faith expression can be. In fact, because of the comprehensive nature of this model/halacha and its bearing throughout all daily aspects of life, some people get concerned that it is “too much” commitment. There is further discussion of what these topics mean as well as to the four levels of community we have identified here.
So there you have it. An effort to simplify and explain five primary aspects of what we understand it means to be a Set Apart people to our Elohim, a Messiah-Centered Torah Pursuant Relational Maturity Community halacha.
Do these concepts match your vision? Do you and your community have similar goals? Please let us know! We are delighted and honored to be a part of helping the Body of Messiah mature, and particularly those who desire to be among the Bride. Please prayerfully consider helping us to continue to provide these materials free of charge with your donation.
Do you see a need for personal or fellowship consultation? Arrange for a complimentary coaching session with Barbara Klika to find out how coaching can help!
What Materials are Used
We look to the Scriptures as our primary source as a Messianic fellowship that functions as a Torah pursuant Life ModelTM community.
The Life Model is a trademarked set of materials developed by Shepherd's House in Pasadena California. As noted elsewhere, we do not recommend their resources beyond the basic material.
While we see the value of the stages of maturity and character development, for both individual and assembly development, we differ in some theological interpretations noted later in the basic book and offered in greater development in additional materials.
We have found few, if any, materials dealing with these needed matters that are written within a Hebraic Interpretation of the Word, so we use these resources judiciously.
They are a resource, not THE source!
Some of the other materials we draw from for tending to the personal and emotional maturity needs of His people include:
- Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend
- CoDependent No More by Melodie Beattie
- The Solo Partner: Repairing Your Relationship on Your Own and Reactivity (Video) by Phil DeLuca
- Drama Triangles by Dr. Stephen Karpman
Verbal Logical Explainer
by Dr. Karl Lehman
This Teaching available on DVD has been instrumental in our growth in understanding of personal experiences that have left behind an impression or belief that interferes with our ability to respond appropriately in new situations that seem like the old one.