In this modern age of alienation and social “drifting,” we are proclaiming: obedience to Yeshua requires the building of discipling communities under the oversight of a qualified eldership.
In Matthew 16 we read the account of Peter’s confession of Yeshua. He says, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Yeshua responds:
“Blessed are you Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Congregation, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
Some try to get away from the claim of congregational commitment by stating that the congregation of Yeshua is an invisible, mystical reality that does not entail a commitment to the visible institutions of this world. This is contrary to Scripture. Yeshua chose 12 disciples, eleven of whom became the new elders for his followers. The phrase “keys of the Kingdom” has to do with governing authority, an authority thought to be possessed by the Sanhedrin in the first century. Binding and loosing entailed permitting behavior and forbidding behavior. This was very concrete and well known in the first century.
Of course we can speak of the people of Yeshua as a universal Body that transcends the visible groups that gather; but without gathering in congregations–whether small or large– there can be substance to the universal picture. Rather, immediately after Pentecost (Shavuot) a large congregation formed in Jerusalem that was submitted to the apostolic teaching and met together regularly (Acts 2:42). Then when the apostles traveled to new cities, they established new congregations under an eldership.
The congregation is the womb for discipleship, worship, prayer, and mutual accountability. We see this throughout the Scriptures: Matthew 28:19 commissions us to make disciples. Congregations are like the hub of a wheel—which has many spokes going out from it: marriage and family, business and finance, arts, education and social justice. Everything flows out form the hub, where there is authority. People are trained how to demonstrate the Kingdom in every area of life by those who lead in congregational life.
Therefore, building community under an eldership is the foundational commitment for all believers in Yeshua–second only to their personal commitment to God and Yeshua himself.