GOE Outreach Center Announces . . .
Intensive Discipleship Institute
Summer 2020 (God willing)
Printable IDI Application >>>
In 1995 I started publishing the Gates of Eden bimonthly. That same year I planted our local Messianic congregation, which I led for 17 years. In 2012 I turned over the leadership to Arthur Cox. I am still an active member of our congregation, but Art is the pastor. I discipled Art in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and he has worked with me for most of the years since we first met. Over the years we have discipled many believers in our local congregation.
I have also traveled to many places to speak at Messianic gatherings. When I speak to groups, people generally seem to be encouraged and edified by my teachings. I still plan to be available to travel, but I want to do something that will produce more long-term results than a one-time visit produces. To that end, I want to help train and equip young people for ministry. Starting next summer, God willing, I want to establish a 3-month summer program of intensive discipleship for young adults ages 18 to early-30s at our Gates of Eden Center.
A Time to Gather Stones Together
We need to heed the message of the Prophet Haggai. When the Jews left Babylon to rebuild Jerusalem, they laid the foundation for the Temple. There was a lot of excitement and noisy celebration and fanfare. However, the work of rebuilding stopped because of opposition from the Jews’ enemies. As a result, the Jews became apathetic about rebuilding the Temple. They said, “It must not be God’s time for the Temple to be rebuilt.”
Instead of rebuilding the Temple, they got involved in remodeling their own houses, and neglected the house of God. They became content with just a bare foundation, until the Prophet Haggai rebuked them for their apathy and told them to get back to work.
The Jews of Haggai’s time had laid the foundation, but they had not gathered stones together to build a structure on that foundation. We Messianics have done the same thing.
The Bible speaks of “A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together” (Eccl. 3:5). Some of us old-timers have been involved in the Messianic Movement for 40 years or more. We have cast away lots of theological stumbling stones such as anti-Semitism, antinomianism, and whitewashed pagan traditions. Like the Jews of Haggai’s time, we have left Babylon and we now have a good solid foundation. Our theological foundation has Messiah as the chief cornerstone, and we understand the importance of the Sabbath, the Torah, the Feasts, the dietary laws, etc.
We have had our time to cast away stones and lay a foundation. The purpose of a foundation is to build a structure upon it. Now it is time to gather some living stones together and build local assemblies, assemblies with leadership, structure, order, and stability.
As I travel to various places to speak, I meet many individuals and families and groups that desperately need a stable local body. There is a real need to establish local congregations that have structure, stability, spiritual gifts, sound doctrine, and strong but humble leaders.
Goals and Logistics
At our Summer Institute of Intensive Discipleship I hope (with assistance from others) to help train and equip young people to do the work of the ministry. I hope that some of these young people will eventually become apostles, or prophets, or evangelists, or pastors, or teachers. Those disciples who may not be called to leadership roles will be equipped to assist and encourage the Body of Messiah in other ways.
The Summer Institute of Intensive Discipleship is still in the planning stages, so we do not yet have a full description of the curriculum or the schedule or the names of all the teachers who will be participating. At this time I can tell you that we have teachers from our local congregation, and we plan to bring in other well-known Messianic teachers to participate. So far, Brad Scott has agreed to come, and we expect to recruit others. We tentatively plan to include courses on prayer, Hebrew, hermeneutics, history, and of course a general study of all 66 books of the Bible. We also want to cover practical aspects of ministry. We will probably have electives to choose from, optional classes for disciples who have an interest in specific areas of ministry. There will also be lots of opportunities for hands-on ministry work at the GOE Outreach Center and at other nearby locations. The classes will be held at the GOE Center. When classes are not in session, the Center will be open to the public for outreach.
We can help disciples find nearby affordable housing to rent, and we can provide transportation to and from the GOE Center for disciples who do not have a car. We plan to provide two meals a day at the GOE Center. Most importantly, we will pray for and with those who come for the three months of intensive discipleship, and we will help equip them to bear fruit.
One final word about this project. In early June as I was driving through Pennsylvania on my way home, I started wondering if it was really the Spirit of the Lord leading me to do this, or just my own human ambition. I have learned over the years that questioning and doubting often occur during the initial planning stages of a project like this. I was wondering whether I should go ahead and pursue this goal, or just forget about it. I committed it to the Lord in prayer and trusted Him for confirmation to either do it or abandon the idea.
The very next day I arrived home and opened my mail. One piece of mail was a receipt from Voice of the Martyrs for a donation I had recently sent to help victims of persecution. When Voice of the Martyrs sends receipts, they tell their volunteers who prepare the receipts to hand-write some Bible verse or a short word of encouragement on the receipt. The volunteers are not told what to write; they can write whatever they want. (I know this because I phoned and asked.) On this particular receipt that was sent to me were just two words: “Make disciples!”
Maybe that’s just a coincidence. But unless God closes the door, I’m taking that as a word from the Lord to confirm that I am headed in the right direction. Therefore I am proceeding with plans to pursue this vision.
| Daniel Botkin