As I said earlier, ‘been readin’ Seth Godin’s new book, Tribes. ‘Been holdin’ off tellin’ ya what’s been bouncin’ roundn’ my noggin cause it’s all in process. But I’ll give ya a few snippets, some realizations I’ve been havin.’
And I’ll drop the two-dollar accent while I’m at it.
A tribe, Godin says, “is a group of people connected to one another, a leader, and an idea.” Pretty basic. Every tribe solidifies, though; and over time, they form their own religion, their own code of conduct (usually unwritten rules) and values that embody the essence of their identity.
Then Godin speaks to leaders, saying, “When you fall in love with the system (the religion of whatever tribe you’re a part of), you lose the ability to grow… in order to lead, you must challenge the status quo of whatever religion you’re living under.” Wow. Can you say, JESUS of Nazareth? He wasn’t challenging Judaism, the faith: No, he came to fulfill that. He was challenging Judaism, the religion, and for that he was branded a heretic and crucified. Can you say, welcome to modern church culture? WHen people challenge the religion, we react as though they’re challenging our faith!
Now here’s the kicker: Jesus didn’t actually try to reform Judaism. He cast his net broad, scattered his seed to all… and then went with those who “got it.” Godin puts it this way: You can’t create a true movement by marketing to “most people.” “Smart leaders,” he says, “assemble the tribe.” Sometimes, the NEW tribe. Can you say, the TWELVE disciples? The SEVENTY? The 120? Yup. There it is.
But tribes don’t become movements until the tribe becomes larger than the leader. In Christianity’s case, this is technically impossible (can’t be bigger than Jesus). On the other hand, you could say that Jesus HAD to ascend into the clouds to let the movement happen. He is, of course, with us by His Spirit, indwelling us — but without this transcendence the movement would have been dead in the water.
Which paves the way for discipleship, apprenticeship. Transcendence needs form. Godin says, “All you need to do is motivate the people that choose to follow you. The rest of the population is free to ignore you or disagree with you or move on.” God loves the world, Jesus loved the crowd, but he invested in the 12.
Every church already has at least one tribe in it. Yours too. In many churches, the largest tribe in the pews could be called “Status Quo Churchianity.” Our churches are crammed full of people who’s religion contradicts their so-called faith. The movements of their tribe lead them away from Jesus.
Tomorrow: The hallmarks of Status Quo Churchianity.