How we went from Tribe!

in #tribe11 months ago

16 tribe.jpg

I began this series of stories with my own testimony and then told you how Holy Language Institute got started. Now, fifteen vignettes later, we've come full circle.

I'd already been filming lessons and putting them on the website for over a year when I read a book about...Tribes. That was actually the name of the book. The author pointed out that the days where everybody belonged to the same big group were over. We don't all listen to the same news station, go to the same church, and eat white bread anymore. It's like we used to all look up to the same statue before it shattered and left us looking around trying to figure out who we were. We banded together into smaller groups around common interests and causes. Then the internet came along and many of us went from local groups to online groups. Suddenly we were able to find people like ourselves, no matter how weird we were! The author called these groups tribes. He pointed out that humans are instinctually tribal. We need tightknit community where we can belong truly madly and deeply, where our presence means something. Yet too often we never find this and end up lonely, bored, and lost. Why? What makes all the difference?

At this point I felt like the author was talking directly to me. Leaders. Every tribe starts with a leader who's passionate and outspoken about a cause and brings people together. But it never ends there. A tribe needs a way to communicate with each other, with their leader, and with the world. I knew in that moment that Holy Language Institute needed to change. Up until then we'd just been a website where people watched videos. We needed to go beyond that and become a living, breathing, and powerful tribe of real people with real stories. And I needed to give our students a way to talk - not just with me, but with each other and with the world.

And that's what I did. We added a map to the website and pinned the locations of our students so they could find each other. Thousands of pins! We invited them to send in their stories and started sharing those by email and social media. Our members told stories that were firsthand and vulnerable, grammatically incorrect but oh so real, and our community began to find its voice. We created an online group where our members could interact with each other and with me. And we got on social media and began aggressively reaching out because, as the book said, your tribe is already out there - you just need to find them. I even started calling us the Holy Language Tribe. Of course, all this didn't happen overnight. It took several years of experimentation and hard work. But it's where we are now. And that's the story of how we went from just being a website to becoming a real and robust tribe.

Did you notice how I mentioned that tribes need a cause but then didn't tell you what ours was? It's because I was saving the best for last! A couple years after I read Tribes one of our volunteers helped me clarify exactly what our tribe was about and put it in writing. Not just something that sounded good, but something that authentically reflected the passion that had been driving me from the start. We discerned that my focus had always been on Yeshua, on following and knowing him for myself. That was why I learned Hebrew and got into Judaism. That's what consistently came out in my lessons. This passionate pursuit was the cause that over time others had rallied to and tribed around. From there we formalized our tribe's focus as "following Yeshua in a Hebrew way, together" and made it into a story that went something like this:

"Following Yeshua..."
When the early disciples heard "follow me" and looked up to see the Rabbi from Nazareth, they understood they were being invited to walk with him and know him. They stepped into a journey of becoming like their Teacher and going on to change the world for him.

"In a Hebrew way..."
Just as Yeshua's first disciples read the Hebrew Bible and prayed the Hebrew prayers with him, we're learning Hebrew as a way of following in the footsteps of the Master, a way of encountering the King of the Jews through the language of his chosen people.

The men and women who found the Messiah found themselves walking with each other, sharing a holy experience that turned them into a tightknit community. Then and now we've always been a diverse tribe of real people, telling our stories and changing the world together.

If you ever want to read our Tribe's focus again it's right there on the home page. We actually organized everything on the website around "Following Yeshua, in a Hebrew way, together." Go see for yourself at and pay special attention to that Tribe section, because now you know how it happened.


Thanks @izzyavraham. Very interesting post. I really liked and enjoyed it. May His PEACE be upon us all!!! 🙏

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