By Ron Hutchcraft
A dusty reservation basketball court, surrounded by impoverished, hope-starved Native American young people.
I’ve ministered in both worlds, within weeks of one another. Worlds that – at first glance – seem to be very far apart.
But when it comes to what God is doing, these divergent worlds share some striking—and instructive—similarities.
The “natives” in both worlds are hard to reach with the good news of Jesus. The success and drive of those marketplace men and women spawns a confident, self-reliant façade that doesn’t open up easily.
The young people on that reservation have been hardened by years of pain and a strong belief that “Jesus is the white man’s God.”
But, amazingly, there’s a great move of God in both of these hard-to-reach cultures, with many choosing to follow Jesus.
The secret of these breakthroughs reveals a simple but powerful strategy for helping people from any culture or subculture find our Jesus: people from a tribe are the key to reaching lost people in a tribe.
In Manhattan, its Wall Street men and women reaching Wall Street men and women. They are opening their hearts to share the brokenness in their lives and relationships and to share about the Savior who was broken for them so they could be healed.
On the reservation, its Native American young people reaching Native American young people, Through our ministry’s all-Native, On Eagles’ Wings teams, young people are pouring out the desperation and despair of lives surrounded by abuse and addiction and sharing how “a brown-skinned, tribal man named Jesus changed everything.”
I’m convinced that tribal rescue is the key to breaking through to countless lost people in every culture and subculture.
Moms listen to moms. Soccer players listen to soccer players. Hunters listen to hunters. Rotarians listen to Rotarians. Cancer survivors listen to cancer survivors.
We’re all in a tribe—an occupational tribe, a recreational or educational tribe, a generational tribe, an associational tribe like the PTA, the booster club, or the country club.
So whatever tribe you’re in, you are the best possible gospel messenger to the people in your tribe. You face the same stresses, talk the same language, and share the same experiences. You are positioned by God and credentialed by your biography to represent Christ in your tribe as no one else could. You are, in the Bible’s words, “Christ’s ambassador” (i.e., chosen representative) to those in your personal world (2 Cor. 5:20).
Here’s an outreach strategy here that any church can employ:
- Identify what tribes are represented in your congregation.
- Take that as God’s clue as to where your church should target your outreach strategy.
- Mobilize and equip your tribal ambassadors to claim their tribe for Christ.
- Identify the needs of people in that tribe and how the church could address those needs.
This isn’t new. When Jesus wanted to reach the Samaritans, He didn’t just go blazing into their village. He reached a Samaritan woman at a well. She told her tribe about Jesus and “many of the Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony” (John 4:39).
Think what could happen in our country if every believer claimed their tribe for Christ and stepped up to be the face and voice of Jesus there. What would it look like if we prayed and looked for God-given opportunities to use their tribal credentials as a bridge to tell others about the difference Jesus makes?
There’s a world of ‘Samaritans’ who would trust our Jesus If only they could hear about Him from someone from their tribe.
Ron Hutchcraft (@ronhutchcraft) is an international speaker, radio host, and bestselling author. As president of Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, Ron and his team specialize in developing, authentic, relevant, and creative tools to reach people with the message of Jesus. Ron’s closest partner in life and work is his wife, Karen. They are the parents of three grown children and have nine grandchildren