Tag: tribes

You Can’t Change a Tribe

tribes-by-seth-godin1I’m reading Seth Godin’s new book, Tribes.  Godin packs his small book with pithy observations about the nature of “tribes” and the qualities tribes are looking for in leaders.  Although he doesn’t explicitly say this, it occurred to me that a small church is a tribe.  Small churches tend to be held together by families, tradition, or both.  

Pastors spend a lot of time trying to change the small church tribe into one with more appeal to outsiders. But, if we do, we kill the tribe.  Now there are times that tribe might need to be killed, but most of the time small churches serve their purpose well and the members of that tribe are fiercely loyal.  But that doesn’t mean that church leaders, pastors especially, shouldn’t be trying to gather a new tribe.  New tribes like a different type worship than the existing tribe.  New tribes dress casually, while the old tribe dresses in their Sunday best.  The new tribe might be younger than the existing tribe.  Or, the new tribe might be single instead of predominantly married.  You can’t change a tribe, but you can start a new one alongside it.  

Years ago Lyle Schaller remarked that “new people need new groups.”  Schaller was referring mostly to Sunday School classes for newcomers, but the same applies today to entire congregations.  Godin might say it this way, “New people need a new tribe.”  I’m going to try this one out.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Tribes and church

A friend of mine sent me Seth Godin’s new book, Tribes.  All Godin’s books pack lots of new thinking between their small covers.  I’ll post more about it after I’m finished, but already I’ve run across these gems:

  • “A  tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea.” -p 1.
  • “Heretics are the new leaders. The ones who challenge the status quo, who get out in front of their tribes, who create movements.” -p 11.
  • “Leaders have followers. Managers have employees. Managers make widgets. Leaders make change.” – p 14. 
  • “‘Established in 1906’ used to be important. Now, apparently, it’s a liability.” -p 17.
  • “People yearn for change, they relish being part of a movement.” -p 18.
  • “Great leaders create movements by empowering the tribe to communicate.  They establish the foundation for people to make connections, as opposed to commanding people to follow them.” -p 23. 

Okay, more later, but you get the picture.  Tribes is about leaders, followers, connection and movements.  Sounds like the first century when the church was young.  Maybe it can happen again — a real movement, a genuine groundswell of people gathered around Jesus, connecting with each other, passionate about doing God’s work in God’s world.  Anybody up for a movement?