I often have the opportunity to guest preach and teach in congregations around the country. Sometimes those churches are large suburban congregations with Jewish communities in their backyards. Sometimes they are in small towns or rural communities where there are few Jewish people for miles around. It used to surprise me that such churches would even invite me to come, but I have learned not to gauge interest by a congregation’s size or proximity to urban Jewish communities.
Regardless of what congregation I get the opportunity to present our ministry to, my message does not change. Of course, that’s because, in as much as I am able to by God’s grace, my message is consistent with the Word of God which never changes! God’s Word is clear. “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16). For the sake of our ministry, I focus on two aspects of this verse, “fleshing it out” with the rest of the Scriptures.
First, God’s gift of salvation is for all people, Jew and Greek (usually used to refer to everyone else who is not Jewish!). The Church’s mission is to everyone, but a good mission strategy should always include the Jewish people. I liken this to a “first fruit offering” or a tithe. By no means is it necessary to make Jewish missions a predominant part of our mission to the world, but if we seek to be faithful to the Word, the first piece of our mission strategy should be how we reach Jewish people. The Jews, while certainly a very small percentage of the world’s population, are the only ethnic group specifically mentioned in the Scriptures. Everyone else falls under “the nations.” Our ministry could be part of that strategy, or churches could develop their own, but I pray that a part of any church’s mission plan includes intentional outreach to Jewish people.
Secondly, it is “the power of God for salvation.” It is God that brings people to faith, not us. So often we have a fear of failure that says “if those I witness to don’t come to faith, then I have done something wrong,” and it’s easier to simply not do than to risk failure or rejection. One of the things that we have to remember is that when we work to share our faith with others, we have a great partner in the Holy Spirit. Again, it is God that brings people to faith, not us. God calls us to tell, usually in whatever way we are comfortable, and leave the rest to Him. One young woman this last weekend was relieved to hear that message, and immediately put it into practice. May God give you the same relief!