Discovering Your Place
in the Local Assembly
Servanthood and Leadership in NCAY
Second (2015) Edition
I. You Are Called
I wonder if you realise that even before you enter the waters of baptism that Yahweh, our Heavenly Father, has a call -- or many calls -- for you in the local fellowship? And did you know that even before you were born into this world you received these calls for service? Many new members usually sit around waiting to be given a job in the local fellowship and it doesn't even cross their minds of some that Elohim (God) has work for them to do. Yet it is stated quite clearly by the apostle that if you have a gift -- and that's everyone -- then you have a job to do. Moreover, Yahweh is holding you accountable -- whether you have received an invitation from your pastor or local apostle to serve or not.
"As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of Elohim (God)" (1 Peter 4:10)
In the 1960s and 70s much was heard about the right of individuals to 'do their own thing'. People were encouraged to be themselves, to get to know themselves, and to express themselves. As Christians, however, we should never pursue such an unhealthy and egocentric individualism that glorifies self and ignores Elohim (God). But when we remember our responsibility to others and acknowledge our dependence on Yahweh, He can use our distinctive skills and spiritual gifts for His glory.
In Romans 12 believers are reminded that while they are part of one body, they all have different Yahweh-given abilities. Every child of Elohim (God) is obligated to recognise his particular talents and to use them in His service.
Why don't you sit down and make a list of your talents, pray to Yahweh to ask where you can be the most productive in Him, and then have a chat with your local Pastor? In the New Covenant Assemblies of Yahweh, calls to congregational positions are bi-directional, meaning that a member of the local assembly is expected to search alone, and together, with the Pastor as to his or her call, and that both are to come to a witness that the call is right. Though it is the responsibility of the Pastor to make the final call and perform the ordination, the candidate must also be sure that the call is right for him.
It is also important to realise that not every talent or gift falls under an official 'calling' such as a 'teacher' or a 'deaconess' but may have some wider application. In other words, looking at a list of various official callings and trying to find your 'call' might not necessarily be the answer. I remember one man who served in many official callings in the local assembly and had enormous problems with all of them. His one great gift was that he was a superb translator and it was evidently here that Yahweh had the greatest use for him.
In a commercial airliner, the pilot, copilot, mechanics, engineers, and flight attendants all have different responsibilities. What jeopardy the passengers would be in if each crew member neglected his duties for another's r˘le! In much the same way, serious harm can come to a local fellowship if its members clamour for the position of another. It is a serious mistake, therefore, to be possessed by the spirit of lust and to assume that one position is 'higher' than another, and that the 'higher' a position one receives the greater one's reward in heaven. We are rewarded not according to the position we hold in the kingdom but according to how well we fulfilled our personal calling from Yahweh. An apostle who does his job well and a deaconess who does hers well, to their best of their abilities, will equally be rewarded in heaven.
The question is how we respond to the free grace Elohim (God) has imparted to us. As former presiding elder I had a great amount of work to do in the international fellowship. When I was released from that post I felt a sudden helplessness because I had nothing to do. Realising that I had talents to magnify, I contacted the Presiding Patriarch, Gunnar Mj°lsvik, and asked him if I might be permitted to write materials for congregational use. And that is what I have been doing energetically to this day. I have also found time to dig around for other talents and hope to develop these for kingdom service. I thought I would miss my original calling calling but I didn't because I have so many other things to do now.
Consider also that you may have many hidden gifts that you know nothing about. Sometimes -- and it happens quite often -- a pastor will be inspired to call someone to a job which they think they can't possibly do. I have seen a shy, retiring person become a confident pastor; I have seen someone who hardly spoke any English become an effective translator from English to Norwegian; I have seen children performing adult callings -- a 12 year-old helping publish song books, a 15 year-old write and publish articles for use in the mission field. I have seen much else. Your Yahweh-given potential is enormous if only you will believe and search.
Priesthood callings have nothing to do with position or title. The Priesthood officer is a servant-leader, as Gary Linden in his book, Homeward Horses and Point Geese points out with this interesting illustration:
A servant does only what his master says and therefore his servanthood is apparent, a style of leadership absent for the most part in the West or in Western-styled churches. Today internationally well-known mega-evangelists travel in luxury, book entire floors of h˘tels when abroad, travel in limosines, have body guards, and live decadently. Such 'leadership' is not Christian.
"A group of American Christians were visiting a Chinese Christian commune in mainland China. The Americans were looking for the leadership of the community. They were directed to see one particular revered Elder. After much searching of the commune grounds they found him, but even when they found him they had to be told that the leader was, indeed, the little old man with the large wheelbarrow full of human dung heading for the nearby field. The greatest among you will, indeed, be the servant of all."
Godly service and example should leave us in awe of Elohim (God), not of men. It should make us want to walk humbly ourselves to receive all that Yahweh has for us and be willing to to become servants ourselves.
We don't always, of course, throw people into a calling straight away. When a person is called, say, to be a Deacon, he will undergo an apprenticeship as a Sub-Deacon while he is being trained by the Chavurot Bekorot (Holy Order) so that he can both grow and learn as he goes along. Training to be a Pastor can take -- and usually takes -- many years. There is, however, always a job for someone to do from the moment they receive Christ as Saviour and are baptised. Even unbaptized people (catechumens) are invited to share in simple responsibilities so that they can feel more a part of the messianic family as they decide whether Yahweh has called them to NCAY or not.
Do not assume that a Pastor, who is an Elder, occupies the 'top rung' and may act as a king. He remains a Deacon for life, and no job is too menial for him if it is required to be done. The 'higher' the call, the greater the service and humility demanded.
Don't settle for less than Yahweh's best by coveting a position you may not be suited to. Recognise the gift Yahweh has given you and 'do your own thing'. And do it well.
It matters not what others do;
It is my task to see
My life is patterned to the mold
Yahweh has planned for me.
II. Finding Your Call
Your Local Assembly is organised and run by members of NCAY holding the Priesthood of Elohim (God). All true believers hold this Royal Priesthood (1 Pet.2:9) which is the commission from Messiah to bear witness of Him in various forms of ministry and build up the Kingdom. One vital part of personal ministry is serving in your Local Assembly.
2. The Course of your Spiritual Training
So from the moment you have received Yah'shua (Jesus) as your personal Saviour and have been born again you are called into Priesthood service. Baptism is the first stage of your admission into full Kingdom service. Before a candidate will be considered for a Priesthood call he (or she) must regularly attend meetings for a year, diligently study the Davar Elohim (Word of God), complete the course, Foundational Studies of the Bible, and demonstrate by his daily walk that he is living a godly life - see Conditions for Membership in the Messianic Evangelical Community for further details.
During this time he should eagerly make himself available for any jobs that might need doing (2 Cor.8:11) and prepare himself for a call to enroll in the first of the Chavurat Bekorot's Priesthood and Assembly Schools where he will receive instruction preparing him for Priesthood service. Usually after six months' or one years' training in Gospel ethics and morality, and another six months' or one years' instruction on the Holy Order (which regulates the Priesthood), he will enter as an apprentice member of the Holy Order and begin his first year's pre-Priesthood training. If he meets the requirements of this critical year's course, he will usually be ordained a Sub-Deacon and serve for another year as an apprentice to a Deacon. During this time he will receive training in his Local Assembly from his Priesthood Order School on the duties of his office in special Priesthood meetings whilst serving alongside regular priesthood officers as an assistant. If, after this year's training he has magnified his apprenticeship, he will be set apart as a Priesthood Officer, an office in the Deaconate.
The length of training is a little variable and is dependent on the spiritual preparedness and maturity of each member.
New Covenant Priesthoods and Callings
4. Types of Priesthood Office
There are many priesthood offices in the New Covenant Assemblies of Yahweh, each with different areas of responsibility. Callings to Priesthood are made by the Holy Order in which all fully-ordained priesthood officers are members.
Local Assembly Priesthood Orders
- Elders (Order of Enoch)
- Eldresses (Order of Miriyam)
- Deacons (Order of Zadok)
- Deaconesses (Ordef of Martha)
Callings to the several offices within these Priesthoods are as indicated below:
5. Callings within the Local Eldership
These callings are made by the Local Apostle or by the Presiding Patriarch:
- Pastor (presiding Elder)
- Pastor's counsellors (2 Elders)
- Pastress (presiding Eldress)
- Pastress's counsellors (2 Eldresses)
All other callings are made by the Pastorate (under the leadership of the Pastor), unless the Local Assembly (Branch) is a dependent congregation (Mission) led by apprentice officers in which case callings are made by the Local Apostle or Patriarchate. These include:
Local Missioners are local evangelists or missionaries who usually operate within the boundaries of the Local Assembly. Metropolitan Missioners are sometimes called by a Mother Colony to operate within the boundaries of the Central Assembly or Metropole, a collection of Local Assembly. International Missioners may also be called who work under the leadership of Evangelists.
- Local Missioners
Teacher-Elders teach in one of three capacities: (a) as teachers in Priesthood Order Schools; (b) as teachers in the School of Israel (the equivalent in a Protestant Church of an adult Sunday School); and (c) as teachers of the School of Catechumens (investigator-members).
Administrators include the Local Secretaries, Treasurers and Clerks.
6. Responsibilities of Local Assembly Priesthood
The primary responsibility of the priest/priestess (whether Elder or Deacon/Eldress or Deaconess) is home ministry, teaching families under the leadership of their husbands and fathers to pray together, to attend to family and congregational duties, to build homes according to the divine Torah tavnith, to be a spiritual and practical support to families, and to nourish godliness in every way, by regularly visiting members' homes and teaching them.
7. Responsibilities of Teachers
The primary responsibility of teachers, whether Teacher-Elders or Teacher-Deacons is spiritual education both in the Assembly (where they may teach various adult, catechumens' and children's classes) and in the home (where they assist the Elders and Eldresses in their ministry).
8. Responsibilities of Deacons & Deaconesses
The primary responsibility of deacons and deaconesses is physical or temporal ministry -- catering to the needs of the poor and sick, to look after the physical comforts of the qodeshim (saints, set-apart ones) in meetings, and to collect tithes and offerings. They often accompany Elders and Eldresses, respectively, on their home visits.
There are four general Deaconate ministries:
- Pastoral Assistants
Pastoral Assistants assist the Eldership in home ministry, preaching and councelling.
Teacher-Deacons are responsible for the teaching of youth (the School of Alumim) and children (the School of Tafim).
Stewards are responsible for a host of callings like the collection of tithes, as technical assistants, meeting house maintainers, cleaners, usshers, meeting house arrangers. orphanage and charity fund raisers, cooks, accommodation organisers, choir directors and assistants, publishing assistants, youth camp assistants, etc..
9. Other Priesthood Callings
Other Local Assembly callings, which require that officers be under Priesthood training, are the apprentice Deaconate consisting of:
There is a calling for everyone, young and old, male and female. Training for Priesthood may, as we have seen, take time. During this period there are, apart from apprentice callings, many other necessary services which need doing in the Local Assembly for which volunteers are called to assist the Deacons and Sub-Deacons. Examples include:
- Catering -- preparing meals on Sabbaths and during Festivals and Conferences;
- Technical -- recording equipment (audio-visual), PA system, etc.;
- Altar care -- flower arrangement, laundry, etc.;
- Haberdashery -- sewing altar cloths, temple materials, and banners;
- Publishing -- translating, word-processing, proof-texting, collating and stapling pamphlets (NCAY produces most of its own literature), transcribing sermon recordings, etc.;
- Fund raising -- (e.g. for NCAY's orphanages at home and abroad, and other charitable projects);
- Witnessing -- your witnesses is the heart of NCAY's outreach, so get involved in street and countryside witnessing;
- Bible Groups -- practical assistance is always needed in House Fellowships and Cell Groups;
- Mechanical/plumbing/electrical/painting -- practical skills to help the Local Assembly and Holy Order are always in demand;
- Recreational -- helping organise children's camps and the like;
- Assisting Priesthood -- in hospital and prison ministry, etc.;
- Kindergarten and quality child care -- this is an area with great need in your Local Assembly;
- ...and much more besides
Whatever skill you have, there is an immediate use for it! All are called to the work of the Kingdom!
10. Begin now...
with your own list of skills. Write down areas which interest you, or gifts which you believe Yahweh has given you, whether mature or not, and then arrange an interview with your Pastor. Take this pamphlet or print-out along with you. He will be only too willing to help!
"As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of Elohim (God)" (1 Peter 4:10)
This page was created on 1 January 1998
Updated on 19 November 2015
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