What Does a Tribal Church Planter Need? (Pt. 1)


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“First, if there is nothing more precious to the Father than Him [Christ], there cannot be any blessing higher than Him or anything better than Him. In every way, He Himself must the very great reward of the Gospel…” M. Reeves

What does a tribal church planter need more than packages sent from America and anti-diarrhea medicine? Alright, yeah, those things are pretty great. No seriously, don’t let this post discourage you from sending things… But MUCH better than those things: An intense, moment-by-moment relationship with the Saviour who died, not just so we could finally be at peace with God, but for our sanctification: so we could enjoy and repose in our new, awe-inspiring status as beloved children of God, our hearts melting because of His unwavering, never-changing love, preparing and shaping our responses for the most intense, wild circumstances (as John Knox famously prayed, “Grant us Lord, the perfect hatered of sin”) — so that Christ and his work may shine like the moon in the darkest, most unreached places of the the world.

“Learn much of Jesus. For every look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ. He is altogether lovely. Such infinite majesty, and yet such meekness and grace, and all for sinners, even the chief. Live much in the smiles of God. Bask in His beams. Feel His all-seeing eye settled on you in love, and repose in His almighty arms…Let your soul be filled with a hear-ravishing sense of the sweetness and excellency of Christ and all that is in Him,”

proclaimed the ol’ Scottish pastor, Robert Murray M’Cheyne. As I’ve written here, I believe tribal church planters obviously have unique experiences to write about. But more than just, “Hey, killed a spider the size of Tony Robbins today!” No, I mean meaty stuff that can deeply enourage and spur on local churches back in our home countries to a more accurate understanding of Christ’s love and to continue in good works. Jonathan Edwards, John Newton, Eisabeth Elliot, George Mueller, Hudson Taylor, David Livingstone and others have gone before and have written journals for us to enjoy, and we eat them up, why? Because Christ was made known, proclaimed, exhalted, and cherished through the way He constantly met their needs in really bad, drastic circumstances.

We have nothing to boast in — the death and evil we produce in only ours, and the only good we produce is Christ’s — but it’s our responsibility to reflect on the the Word of God and it’s application to our lives and specific circumstances, and as the “God of all Comfort” comforts us, we have a responsibility to comfort others with His all-sufficiency. We would be poor stewards if we ignored the great technological advantage we enjoy over our predecessors — never before could this work be brought right to your pastor’s iPhone instantaneously as it can now with a “Publish” button.

As Mike Reeves says in his most recent work, “Rejoicing in Christ,” “If the Father can be infinitely and eternally satisfied in Him, then He must be overwhelmingly all-sufficient for us in every situation, for eternity.”

What I endeavor to do once a week — if God allows me to be a blessing to the Church in this way — is write so that you might be:

  1. dazzled by the love, grace, mercy, compassion, and resurrection power found in our Shepherd, High Priest, King, Friend, and Savior,
  2. moved by the Spirit of Christ (who’s actually united with you as you read this) to intently study the Scriptures for yourself, rightly dividing it, putting every promise of God, found in Jesus, to the test. John Calvin wrote, “Let us learn that God in his promises is set before us as if he were a willing debtor.” Finally,
  3. you would be moved to participate in the work of your Bridegroom and Master, “to seek and to save that which is lost.” Burk Parsons tweeted a few days ago, “We would do whatever Christ called us to do if He showed up and told us what to do. He already did.”

This is a tough needle to thread, but worth the hour or so commitment to get it done, even if, like, one person reads it. That won’t bum me out if I’m content in Christ’s enoughness at the time I’m checking WordPress at the end of the day. Mike Reeves continues,

“His character is written into the grain of the universe so intimately that even to think against Christ the Logos you must think against logic and descend into folly (Ps. 14:1). In his world, our faculties work better the more they are harnessed to faith in Him. Then we are able to be more logical, more vibrant, more imaginitive, more creative, for we are working with the grain. 

The tiniest details in everything, [as Jonathan Edwards has written] from spiders and silkworms to rainbows and roses, all our forth knowledge about Christ and His ways. For example, the ‘rising and the setting of the sun is a picture of the death and resurrection of Christ,’ the true light of the world.”

In case you didn’t know, the “tiniest details” in our slice of the work being done to reach the unreached of Papua New Guinea looks, tastes, and smells alot different than what’s in my hometown, Princeton, Illinois. The beauty of Christ in Kuman, viewed in both contrasts and parallels, can and should be shared with you all, not so you can rejoice in us, but in the one in whom the Universe will be perfectly summed up in. It might be crazy out there, but even the darkness causes the character and worth of Christ to glow more brilliantly.

“This is what He brings to share with humanity: His own sonship, his own relationship and life with His Father…what we see so gorgeously displayed in Jesus is the life of God in humanity, fleshed out for us to see. That is what the life of God is like…Christ shows us what it is to be a human, fully alive in the Spirit. And He is the head of a new, Spirit-filled humanity…”

In this series, we’ll start in the Life of Christ and see him in His brilliance, reflect on His life, and see how His life and promises apply to life of a tribal church planter and yours. What he has is now ours through our union with Him.

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