As I look back at how far ADONAI has brought us in the last 4 years, it seems appropriate to take stock of where we are as a Synagogue, and where we should be.
Where we are
It is amazing to see the changes that have occurred. Since humble beginnings doing Passovers in Churches 5-6 years ago, ADONAI now has in our own building, reaching tens of thousands on people in a single year via the internet. In those beginning years, if we where able to reach a couple hundred people, it was considered a great success. Now we reach over a hundred in just the Synagogue alone (members + visitors). Passovers account for another 400-500 people. Add to that the internet and the count jumps quickly into the thousands and tens of thousands, and that does not take into account the TV Holy Days shows. Certainly ADONAI has blessed us as Mishpachah (extended family).
The Synagogue is an accomplishment on it's own. We've grown from a Friday-only Service to meeting 4 times per week + Beit Midrash. We have the new Yeshiva with roughly 20 people going for advanced Ministry training. Our Bar / Bat Mitzvah class has more than a dozen regularly attending. Most Houses of Worship do not have their own place for 10 years. We moved into ours in 4.
Truly G-D has blessed us.
Where we should be
With all the wonderful blessings G-D has bestowed, we need to be very careful not to lose our way. The Congregation was founded on a simple premise - to make Talmidim (disciples). All Synagogues exist for three purposes: House of Study (Beit Midrash), House of Assembly (Beit Knesset), and House of Prayer (Beit Tefilah). In most cases one aspect becomes the chief focus In our case, in order to accomplish the calling of the Master (to make disciples), we focus on discipleship (study or teaching). This does not mean we ignore the other 2 functions, but it does mean study takes precedence.
Based on our current teachings, Beit Midrash, and Yeshiva, it seems reasonable to conclude we have done well at our primary focus.
We are blessed with a prayer wall, liturgy, corporate prayer time, anointing of sick, and deliverance prayers. Thus we are, I believe, not neglecting the Prayer portion of the Synagogue. Praise & Worship are also forms of prayer that fulfill this function.
A House of Assembly (Beit Knesset) is the social, family, portion of the Synagogue. It is where we love one another, help one another, and to be very blunt, overlook one another's faults. In any kind of close group, friction can develop, nerves can chaff, and tempers can flair. This is human nature. That is why our Master said, "They shall know you by your love one for another." Yeshua knew hurt feelings, tempers, and anger are all part of man's fallen sin nature (the yetzer hara). That is why He called us to be more than human, He called us to be divine. How dare I say we are to be divine? This is how: In our flesh we are human, but in our spirits we are Sons of Elohim, made in the image of ADONAI, cleansed by the blood of the Lamb. When we are wronged, we are commanded to forgive. We are not to hold grudges, we are to reach out and carry the hurt. We are required by Torah to forgive. Caring and loving one another is hard. Sometimes, we are not very lovable. But Yeshua said that to love those who love us, even the tax collectors do that. No, we are called to more. We are to love even when the person is unlovable. If we have an issue with a brother (or sister) we are to go to that person in love. Sha'ul even went so far as to command that we not take each other before secular authorities, but to judge within the body. This is hard to do; but none the less, it is commanded.
As a House of Assembly is the one area we clearly need to improve. I am speaking of myself as I am guilty of these transgressions. This is very appropriate as we come to the High Holy Days. As part of Yom Kippur, I have to confess my sins to the Congregation. It seems reasonable to start now.
Hopefully we all can learn from my confession.