What is a tribal church planter?
A tribal church planter is an individual who moves into an unreached people group with the intentions of sharing with them the gospel.
They move into a remote location, learn the tribal language and the culture of the people there, and become a member of that community so that the message of the Gospel can be presented in the language and the manner the people will understand.
Then the team of church planters develop a written language and literacy program, to teach the people how to read and write their own language. Meanwhile they teach through the Bible chronologically, laying a foundation for the Gospel among people who have never met the God of the Bible, and translate the Word of God into their language.
Missionaries disciple the new believers, equip them to lead their church, and help them reach out to other villages within their own tribe and to neighboring tribes. Their goal is to eventually work themselves out of a job.
What is an unreached people group?
A people group is the “largest group within which the Gospel can spread as a church planting movement without encountering barriers of understanding or acceptance” (Joshua Project). In most cases barriers would be language distinctives.
There are 6,909 different languages in the World according to Ethnologue. Joshua Project says there are 14,000 ethnic groups. The US Center for World Missions includes different castes, religions, as well as historical enmity, between people and came up with 27,000 people groups.
An unreached people group is a group of people that do not have the Word of God translated into their language, nor is there an adequate indigenous church or body of believers present to share with them the gospel.
“We’re not talking about people who are lost and don’t know the Lord; we’re talking about people who are lost and don’t know the Lord and there’s no one that speaks their language that can tell them. There is no church that exists…That’s an unreached people group.” – missionary with Pioneers
How long does it take to plant a tribal Church?
The process of achieving an indigenous church varies from people group to people group. This can take anywhere from ten to forty years from the point of moving into the tribe to establishing a mature tribal church. There are many obstacles and issues that occur in planting a church, but no matter what it is, Jesus tells us:
“…I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
This is not something that we are able to do on our own strength or independently from the Body of Christ. It is only through Christ and through His Church that we are able to persevere and see His Kingdom expand.