This past year in Jews for Jesus, we have enjoyed celebrating our 40th birthday. It’s been great to look back and rejoice in all that God has done throughout an entire generation. But we are also looking forward!
The New Year, as always, is a great opportunity to look forward—and this year we are doing so more markedly, more intentionally, than any time I can think of in the history of our ministry. That’s because we are at an exciting crossroads in Jews for Jesus—a time of transition, innovation and renewed vision!
As Jews for Jesus is seeking to reach more and more Jewish communities around the world, we are blessed with a wonderful missionary team that includes people of multiple languages, multiple cultures and multiple perspectives. The challenge of leadership is to keep us all moving forward together to accomplish our goal, fostering unity amidst diversity.
God has been answering our constant prayer to raise up the next generation of Jews for Jesus. As you’ve seen with our recent introductions of new trainees (and there are more for you to meet in this edition!), we have many staff in their twenties . . . working alongside people who were in their twenties 40 years ago! As God leads us into 2015, I rely on Him to help us move together—younger and older, less and more experienced—on a pathway of discovering what He wants and expects of us in the days to come. It can be a little daunting, but I’m thrilled that God has given me the privilege of helping to lead Jews for Jesus through this process. And it will be an ongoing process.
Times continually change, and so do ways of communicating. Back in the ’80s our founder, Moishe Rosen, commented, “If in ten years we’re still communicating our message the same way as we do today, we will become irrelevant.” As true as it was then, it’s even truer now. With today’s technology, things change so rapidly that in some cases it takes only a few months for a means of communication to become dated and ignorable. We created this logo at the top of the page to inspire and remind us that we are moving forward together… and fast!
As people’s perceptions and worldviews change, we need to understand those changes in order to reach them.
But when it comes to change, it’s not just a matter of technology. As people’s perceptions and worldviews change, we need to understand those changes in order to reach them. Let me give you an example.
In the early days of Jews for Jesus, we developed a booklet titled Jews for Jesus Questions and Answers. We compiled 21 of the most often asked questions we heard from Jewish people here in the U.S. and produced concise and convincing answers. Then we placed ads in newspapers like the New York Times, offering those answers to these questions.
Decades later, many if not most of those questions are no longer the most pressing questions that Jewish people are asking us. So we are developing a new “Questions and Answers” for a new generation of seekers. And rather than placing ads in newspapers, we’ll be creating videos. That’s just one of many areas we are addressing as we look to evaluate, innovate and reimagine how we can be part of God’s plans to reach Jewish people.
It will require hard work and creativity as we learn to ask the right questions and together find answers that the Holy Spirit will use to lead us forward. It will also require adaptability, a topic I’ve been exploring with our leadership council. In fact, as I prepared a council lesson about adaptability I came across a word I thought you might appreciate. Flexigidity. You won’t find it in the dictionary (at least not yet), but it refers to a synthesis of flexibility and rigidity, which an author by the name of Gidi Grinstein believes has been the key to Jewish survival. Of course you and I know that the key to Jewish survival is the faithfulness of our promise-keeping God, though I think it’s certainly possible that He endowed the Jewish people with flexigidity.
I like the word because it takes the healthy tension between the need to change and the need to stay the same—and in a sense, turns it into a marriage. It’s a different way of understanding a principle that we’ve embraced: preserving the core while stimulating change, a phrase coined by author Jim Collins.
I believe that prayerfully practicing flexigidity as we move forward will help renew our vision for what God expects of us, and will foster greater understanding and commitment to the vision of Jews for Jesus in this next generation. I pray that it will also result in a burst of spiritual renewal throughout our ministry as we trust Him for a future that is bound to surprise us and require us to adapt. I know renewal happens on an individual basis, but I believe God can visit us together as a ministry and accomplish this for His glory.
We are seeking God’s guidance and His gifting because we are passionate about continuing to reach out in ways that do justice to His gospel. It’s both fun and challenging to reimagine Jews for Jesus, and all the innovations that will help keep us on the cutting edge of evangelism in this world of fast-paced change.
I’m asking you to pray with us about this; I know your prayers and encouragement will help us participate in all that God intends for us in the coming years.
As we let our imaginations and creativity flow, we remember our calling and we remember the good things that have been accomplished thus far . . . setting up memorial stones, if you will, to mark the wonderful work God has done. (See this edition’s articles, Tried and true as well as …and some things new.)
Even as we look back on what’s been done, I take great encouragement for the future from the Scriptures. Did you know that the Creator of the Universe also does new things? God says in Isaiah 43:19:
Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert.
In His amazing love and self-expression, God is always doing something new and wonderful.
God’s creative power was not reserved only for what He did in the past. In His amazing love and self-expression, God is always doing something new and wonderful. And He wants us to know about it, and yes, to participate in the new things He will do. So as you pray for us in Jews for Jesus, I also want to challenge you to pray about what new thing God might be asking of you in this coming year. I have no doubt that He wants to renew all of us to a life of godliness, of love for Him and His Word, and to renew our commitment to what He has entrusted to us. But what new thing might God want to do in and through you in this coming year? What new step of faith, new idea or new pathway of service and sacrifice might God be calling us to this year? Shall we not know it?
David Brickner is also an author, public speaker and avid hiker. For more about David, his writings, speaking schedule and possible availability to speak at your church, see http://www.jewsforjesus.org/david-brickner.