Perfect Word conducted a survey asking about Yeshua-believers’ interaction with one another on three levels: congregationally, in small groups, and outside organized meeting environments (simple fellowship). The purpose of the survey was to determine the nature and character of interpersonal relationships within the Body of Messiah. 113 respondents (comprising 42 men and 71 women [almost 50% more]), of whom 27% are Jewish, participated in the survey.

Analysis of Survey Results

Not surprisingly, the highest level of interaction between believers as a whole takes place in the context that facilitates the lowest level of interpersonal relationships: congregational services.  About 2/3 (60%) of all respondents reported service attendance at least weekly, which may, in and of itself, indicate only a moderate overall commitment even to such nominal interaction.

Conversely, at exactly the same rate, respondents reported the lowest level of interaction in the context that facilitates the highest level of relationship: simple fellowship. Again, almost 2/3 (60%) of all respondents have no fellowship with believers outside services or other meetings on a weekly basis. This, of course, is in stark contrast to the standard of daily fellowship as exemplified in Acts 2:46, especially considering that only 4% of all respondents claimed to participate in daily fellowship with believers outside their family.

Small group involvement, however, offers a glimmer of hope, and some potentially illuminating insights. While only a little more than 1/3 (38%) of respondents participate in a congregation-affiliated small group (such as a Bible Study or cell group), another 1/3 (32%) are involved in independent small groups, including 12% in independent home fellowships. All told, this accounts for almost 3/4 (70%) of the respondents.  Though small-group type is diverse, the fact that more people are involved in small groups than in weekly congregational services could be an indicator that people desire closer, interpersonal interaction, and need only to be encouraged in it.

While interaction at each level (services, small groups, simple fellowship) may have some amount of influence on the others, factors such as marital status, children living at home, etc. also appear to play a part. Involvement in independent groups, as opposed to those congregationally-affiliated, do appear to have lower rates of simple fellowship. This speaks to the need for independents to overcome the negative aspects of their independent-minded tendencies. Clearly, congregational organizations continue to offer a convenient framework in which people can more easily find places in which to comfortably fit. Independents need to not necessarily be more organizationally-minded, but more mindful of the organism that is the Body of Messiah, and eschew any idea that it is beneficial to walk alone.

In conclusion, if the results of this survey even slightly resemble the character of the larger Body of Messiah, there is a significant vacuum of fellowship among us. We are a fragmented, disjointed Body, and if we have any hope of adequately shining the light of Yeshua, we must overcome this glaring shortcoming.

Survey Results

Congregational Connection

Almost 2/3 (60%) of all respondents attend weekly services or more; almost 3/4 (72%) attend at least monthly.

Women attend weekly services slightly more than men (39% to 31%), however, of respondents who said they attend services twice weekly, men attend more than twice as often as women (36% to 17%). More women than men attend services less than monthly (31% to 24%). Among women, unmarrieds attend congregational services the most (68%), while married women with and without young children attend at about the same rate (50% and 52%, respectively). Among men, marrieds with young children attend congregational services the most (73%), compared to 63% in the other two groups. Married men without young children attend services the least (37%).

Jewish and Gentile believers attend at-least-weekly services at about the same rate (35% and 37%, respectively), though Jewish believers had a slightly higher percentage of more-than-weekly attendance (29% to 22%). Gentile believers, compared to Jewish believers, had a higher rate of occasionally, rarely, or never attending services (7%, 11% and 12% to 6%, 6% and 10%, respectively).

1/3 (32%) of all respondents are involved in some kind of independent fellowship, separate from a congregational organization (20% in independent Bible Studies, 12% in an independent home fellowship).

Small Groups

Almost 3/4 (70%) of all respondents participate in a small group outside of family. Almost 1/2 (47%) are involved in some kind of small group Bible Study, while more than 1/2 (59%) are involved regularly in more than one small group.

Of respondents who attend services at least weekly, almost 2/3 (60%) are involved in a congregation-sponsored small group, while those who attended services less than weekly were more involved in an independent small group (44%). Nearly a quarter of congregational attenders are also involved in independent small groups.

Men are slightly more involved in small groups than women, both in groups connected with congregations (40% to 37%, respectively) and independent small groups (33% to 31%, respectively). Married men with young children are the most involved in congregational small groups (60%), whereas married men without young children and unmarrieds are considerably more involved in independent small groups (42% and 63%, respectively). Married men without young children have the highest rate of non-involvement in small groups (21%). Nominal percentages of married men have fellowship only with their family.

About 1/3 of all women are involved in congregational small groups. A third of married women without young children and a third of unmarried women are involved in independent small groups, compared to less than 1/4 of married women with young children. Married women with young children have family-only small-group-fellowship the most (22%).

Gentile believers are involved in congregational small groups at a slightly higher rate than Jewish believers (39% to 35%), but at more than seven percentage points higher for independent small group involvement (34% to 26%). Jewish believers, however, are significantly more involved in multiple small groups (68% to 56%), while Gentile believers tended toward Bible Studies over other small group types (37% to 29%).

Simple Fellowship Outside Organized Meetings

2/3 (60%) of all respondents have no fellowship with believers outside services or other meetings on a weekly basis; only 1/2 (52%) do so at least monthly, though nearly the same amount (44%) have fellowship even less frequently than that (25% “occasionally”; 14% “rarely”, 5% “never”).

Of respondents who attend services at least weekly, only 41% have fellowship at least weekly with other believers outside services; about 50% of those have fellowship more than twice a week. Only a little more than 1/4 (29%) of those attending services less than weekly have weekly fellowship or more. About the same percentage of respondents in both groups (53% and 51%, respectively) have fellowship outside of services on at least a monthly basis.

Women are considerably more involved in simple fellowship on a weekly basis or more (41% to 29%). Men and women are about even when it comes to nominal or no simple fellowship (40% and 38%, respectively). Unmarried women have simple fellowship the most (45%), while a little more than a third of marrieds do as well (39%). Married women without young children are the least involved in regular, simple fellowship at 42%.

A little more than 1/3 of unmarried men (38%) engage in simple fellowship on a more-than-weekly basis, while only a little more than a 1/4 of married men do so. About half of all men do not fellowship with other believers outside services and meetings.

Almost half of Jewish believers (45%) have more-than-weekly simple fellowship, compared with 1/3 of Gentile believers (33%). Three times as many Jewish believers meet daily with other believers (6% to 2%), while twice as many Gentile believers never have simple fellowship at all (6% to 3%). Overall, Gentile believers are more likely than Jewish believers to have fellowship on a less-than-monthly basis (46% to 39%).

Small Group – Simple Fellowship Connection

Of the 36% of respondents who report they have simple fellowship at least weekly, more than half (54%) are also involved a small group connected to a congregation; only 37% of the same group are involved in independent small groups. Of the 44% who occasionally, rarely or never have fellowship with other believers outside of services, it made little difference that they are involved in a congregational small group (35%), independent small group (25%) or no small group at all (31%).

19 replies
  1. Pete
    Pete says:

    One thing that the survey does not cover but would be interesting is looking at why people may not be involved in a regular fellowship.

    This could be due to disabilities or other factors etc

    Reply
    • Kevin
      Kevin says:

      Good point, Pete! Everyone — please feel free to e-mail me if you would like to add an explanation to your survey response, along the lines of what Pete suggests. For example, “I am not involved in regular fellowship because…”

      Reply
  2. Kimber
    Kimber says:

    I would love to attend a Messianic Congregation but there are none near me. I live in rural southeast Ohio (moved back) to take care of my mom and my older son who is ill.

    Reply
  3. Sandra
    Sandra says:

    I do not attend Messianic Synagogue regularly because the one that is closest to me is 50 minutes one way… and it is difficult for me to get there. I have searched for a small in home fellowships that worships on the Sabbath… but I have not found any with in my area… other than Seventh Day Adventist… It has been frustrating for me… I long to learn the Hebraic Roots of my Faith and study the portions each week…with a tight nit fellowship (a family)… but I have had to settle for internet study (although I am very thankful for this access- don’t miss understand me)…I just hunger also for the connection of brother and sisters. Anyone have any suggestions or ideas- or possibly know of any fellowships that are close to the Harrison Ohio area (Ohio Indiana Kentucky boarder)? Thanks for the website and the emails! You are a blessing! Shalom! Sandra-Psalm 51 & 91

    Reply
  4. Martine Dalmas
    Martine Dalmas says:

    I used to attend a messianic community and we had bible studies which were wonderful. Funny thing was that it was located in a small community. I then accepted a job in San Francisco and there is no one who believes like us. We even tried attending an Orthodox synogue, but even though the people there were welcoming, the rabbi was not. And afterwhile we gave up. Now we read the weekly parasha at home and expound on the scriptures. We also enjoy your devotionals as well.

    Reply
  5. Kathleen Marion
    Kathleen Marion says:

    I recently moved to Dallas from San Diego, CA. After being in what I would say is a model Messianic Congregation with Rabbi Joel Liberman (guess I’m sort of spoiled) I have not found a Messianic Congregation in the Dallas area that is truly Messianic. Most are into dispensational teachings learned from Dallas Theological rather than a Messianic perspective. Many others are off into Orthodoxy. The one Messianic Synagogue close to my home has had some integrity issues in the leadership which has not been repented of, so I won’t go there. The Lord has led me to Glory of Zion International Ministries in Denton, TX about 35 miles from my home. They are a church that keeps the Holy Days, finds great significance in Hebraic understanding of scriptures and teaches about the seasons and times in a very prophetic way. There is no Messianic Jewish liturgy but it at least does not teach dispensationalisim . I also belong to a womens home group and the Lord has connected me with some wonderful spirit filled women. I do enjoy your messages and it helps me keep in touch with my Jewish roots. Thank you!

    Reply
  6. James Bauers
    James Bauers says:

    Shalom, No Shul, at least, that we would want to be part of. The one near us, only 4.4 miles away, is ALL ATE UP! The leadership is poor as get out. Controlling and strange. The ‘churches’ have no interest or desire in Hebraic roots. We feel lost and without guidance here in Norfolk, VA!

    Reply
  7. Nikki MacRaild
    Nikki MacRaild says:

    I attended a wonderful Messianic Congregation in Vancouver, WA (Rehoboth Messianic Congregation with Rabbi David Sumner) and was spoiled. I have moved to Charlotte, NC and am now attending Hope of Israel with Sam Nadler and am just now starting to make connections there–truly humbling. I stay connected to my former congregation viw “u-stream” for Weds. night Torah Study and their 1st Shabbat service. Thank you for your devotionals and inspirational writings.

    Reply
  8. Sandy Hudson
    Sandy Hudson says:

    I started attending a Messianic Congregation after leaving an evangelical church. Though I was not born Jewish I feel my heart is and here is an exerpt from Romans 2:28-29 which speaks volumes to me. “For the real Jew is not merely Jewish outwardly: true circumcision is not only external and physical. On the contrary, the real Jew is one inwardly: and true circumcision is of the heart, spiritual not literal; so that his praise comes not from other people but from God.”
    The congregation I attend is quite small, yet it is slowly growing. The M Rabbi is a wonderful teacher and he and his family welcome all. I truly feel the LORD has led me to this place where I can embrace my Hebraic roots. The church I had been attending has a bit of replacement theology behind it thus I could not stay there. I am on good terms however with the people at that church including the pastors.
    Toda Raba for all you do in God’s name Kevin! Shalom!

    Reply
  9. Abbigail Bozeman
    Abbigail Bozeman says:

    I love the messianic synagogue that I would like to attend located in Dallas, Tx. And I currently live in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I will not be critical of any other Church or Congregation. I would say that I only desire what Yeshua has place in my heart. So I am seeking G-d to know his perfect will. Shalom

    Reply
  10. Nancy
    Nancy says:

    I am responding to Kimber’s post on June 10. I live in the Tri-State area of Ohio and travel to Pittsburgh for fellowship at a Messianic Congregation. Kimber, how far south are you in Ohio?

    Reply
  11. Randol
    Randol says:

    Shalom Kevin. I’m with Kimber. I would like very much to attended a Messianic Fellowship if their was one near where I live. The closest is 2 hours away. So right now it’s all online. Thank you so very much for sharing with me the blessings that Yeshua has given you.

    Reply
  12. Rick M West
    Rick M West says:

    As for me,

    my mainstay of the Messianic Community consists of individuals that I have met over the Internet, and just a few real-live people that are tangible. Unfortunately, the deeper one goes in their walk with Yeshua–and in pursuit of the Truth: the Whole Truth and nothing but the Truth–the fewer people you run into who are traveling that same path. But Baruch HaShem for that small handful who are!!

    As strange as this may sound, no words can express my gratitude and thankfulness for this “online community”.
    It is here that we get to share our hearts and the Scriptures with one another; and share how HaShem is working in our hearts, lives and ministries. The fellowship has blossomed into regular phone calls, cards and letters also among the few. I do wish it was more tangible though.

    All involved in my online fellowship community, are scattered around the country and the world, and we all listen to different Teachers and have somewhat differing perspectives. To me this is healthy, as it causes all of us to challenge one another, and question the thoughts and beliefs that are presented to each other. I think the road to finding the Truth–and weeding out error–lies in the multitude of Believers presenting their cases objectively and then looking for “loop holes” that would crash a thesis.
    If there are no Scriptures that can overthrow your beliefs–then you are probably onto the right path. So we take those more solid beliefs and see who else concurs with them.

    I wish Messianic congregations were as plentiful as Christian churches are, but they are not. So I think it’s time all of us forge ahead and do our best to obey Yeshua’s Commission. Perhaps if we all rose up and started a Network, a multitude of new congregations would be birthed!

    Reply
  13. RosahMarie
    RosahMarie says:

    Most of the time I am not sure how to respond to being Jewish…my up bringing has not had any training…in this area, my father is a fearful man and with his age it has caught up to him. He lived during the war in Germany. I do go to a regularly to a local church, but I want to learn more about my cultural back round it has not been a easy road. I have a personal relationship with the Messiah. The Church I go to acknowleges the Sabbath, but we worship on the first day of the week. They are very open and intouch with connecting to the history of the Bible and bring that in to church teaching and training. This is where My husband and I are for the time…until the Father Abba tells us differently. We live on Vancouver Isand.

    Reply
  14. Vivian Clark
    Vivian Clark says:

    I have no place to attend. When I attended a church I was at every service. 4-5 times every week but when I became Messianic in my walk with the LORD, I was rejected by my church and have since moved here to the Chandler area in AZ. I have not found a place to worship and often have to work on Sat. so am limited as to where and when I might be able to attend some type of study. Your literature has been a blessing to me. Thank you.

    Reply
  15. Angela
    Angela says:

    James, I can empathize with you. I attended that congregation 7 years. I now have 2 outlets for my love of our Jewish Messiah. I attend a Jewish Heritage Bible study/cell group at KPC on Tuesday evenings at 7 p.m. For Shabbat, one of the ladies in the group and myself carpool to Congregation Zion’s Sake in Newport News. The tunnel is always a joy on Friday evenings — HAHAHA!

    For everyone needing spiritual food, the entire Zion Sake Shabbat service is available live on the internet every Friday evening starting at 7:30 p.m. The sermons can be heard on their website anytime. Rabbi Eric Carlson is a very dynamic speaker and quite balanced in his theology.

    Reply
  16. Jonathan Cook
    Jonathan Cook says:

    First of all the “Great Hoped For American Revival” is really nowhere to be seen despite the hype coming from the God Channel, the Elijah List and the like. A number of scholars and writers have nailed it, like Francis Schaeffer and Arnold Fruchtenbaum. This is now a post-Christian society and Dr. Schaeffer got it right 20 years ago before he died. The regathering in Israel (Aliyah) is a gathering in unbelief prior to the Time of Jacob’s Trouble. (See Dr Frucht’s material.) The Time of the End-Time signs is now coming upon us The stats from Barna & Rasmussen clearly show apathy, accomodation and worldliness in the Church. The lack of insight regarding the Islamic Jihad is appalling; it is time to Wake Up America! The ONLY hope is that the dichotomy between the true believers and the visible church becomes so obvious that even the world will recognize those who are sold out to the Messiah of Nazareth and those who are just playing religion. The KEY is Israel; it always was, is and will be. Our heart attitude towards the People and the Land of the Book is paramount. Let the Great Apostasy take its course; just choose not to be a part of it. There is YOUR great revival. And the greatest revival the world has ever seen will be yet to come in the Land of Israel during the Tribulation period. In the Name of Yeshua HaMashiach.
    Baruch HaShem: Jonathan David Cook

    Reply
  17. Rhonda Young
    Rhonda Young says:

    My family, too, has no place to go for services within an acceptable driving distance. I watch online services, but there’s no real fellowship in that. I have decided that the only way to get the fellowship we seek is to start a group myself….trouble is…I don’t feel that I know enough about the Hebrew side of things in order to teach others. 🙁

    Reply
  18. JohnHale
    JohnHale says:

    …posted at MessiahNet.com

    There are several difficulties Messianics face. Traditionalism is about the biggest obstacle… traditionalism that implores the Messianic to lean to traditional Christianity or to lean to traditional Judaism.

    Traditional Christianity is fraught with pagan infiltrations and influences.

    Traditional Judaism has refocused its corp purpose to be anti-Jesus. And that in the words of non-Messianic Jew Michael Medved. Citing that the purpose of Judaism ought to get back to being about being Jews rather than how not Christian “we” are.

    footnote: lots of luck with that since it’s the Jew’s own Bible that those who reject Yeshua are “running” from…

    In the absence of the Jewish leadership God intended in what has become “Christianity,” gentiles (who may have been sincere and did the best they could) could not help bringing some of their pagan culture and upbringings into the arena of faith in the Jewish Messiah.

    Some would argue that Constantine and mum (the Trumps of the 4th century CE) set out to invent a religion… the religion of state… a crumbling state… in an attempt to shore up that state… which would make sense of all the pagan additions some to appease Roman citizens or rulers, some to appease conquered pagan civilizations…

    And the Protestant Reformation did not reform nearly enough. Most Catholic traditions have found their way into the most far flung variety of Christianity.

    So here stands the Messianic with Bible in one hand and prayer shawl and yarmulke in the other staring at the cross roads ahead. The answer is not in the paths ahead nor in the elements… but in the word.

    Rabbi Sha’ul / Apostle Paul made a very interesting comment:

    Romans 9:6 (KJV)
    6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:

    How can one be Israel and not Israel?

    And this has application not only under the new covenant but under the old covenant as well (Jeremiah 31:31-37).

    My point is, the thing that has most hindered the Messianic is the patterning of one’s faith after that which is NOT Yisro’el (both Jew and Gentile). That we Messianics are the pattern setters and not the other way around. And in so being we will bring the word of God unhindered and unfettered by human interpolations into the lost and dying world…

    So let it be that the name Yeshua HaMoshiakh will enter this dark world and be spread throughout till he comes back.

    Reply

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