Pastors are Tribal Leaders – 4 Things We Must Do

Today I want to apply Godin’s perspective about leading a tribe, to Jesus. As we do, I invite you to allow the life of Jesus shape your own identity as a leader.

You may wonder why Godin’s perspective is so valuable here.  Although he doesn’t sit in the academy or carry credentials of a theologian, he is a language artist who knows people and knows the times.

Here are four ways pastors can model Jesus.  Each assertion is connected to a Godin quote and followed by some challenging questions.

1:Embrace change-making.

“Management is about manipulating resources to get a known job done. Leadership, on the other hand, is about creating change that you believe in.”

2: Repent of ‘organizational loves.’

“When you fall in love with the system, you loose the ability to grow.” 

3: Initiate something.


4: Commit before its successful.

“If your organization requires success before commitment, it will never have either. A big part of leadership is the ability to stick with the dream for a long time. Long enough that the critics realize that your going to get there one way or another…so they follow.”

I have ordered these quotes intentionally. Reread them again to feel the progression.

Think about Jesus’ context as a religious factory. Think about how Jesus daily ordered his steps around his Father’s voice and mission. Seth’s definition of management can easily speak to the problems of church in America.

  •  How are we, spiritually speaking, tempted to manipulate resources to get a known job done rather than creating change that we believe in?


Jesus created waves for people who didn’t just create systems as tools but sustained systems in order to nourish their identity. What sytems do you have as a leader and what is your relationship to them?  Do they serve you or do you serve them? How conscious are you of your system?

  • What aspects of your system, tempt you to “fall in love” with them?  What personal growth as a leader is your current system holding back?  What keeps you just “going through life” at the risk of “growing through life?”


There is always status quo.  What is it right now for you? I love the phrase “initiative = happiness.”  It is certainly not a statement of truth, but an overstatement for insight’s sake. Before a leaders is defined by anything, he or she is defined by initiative. Hebrews tells us that Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before him. Now think of how that joy and the culminating event of the cross was preceded by literally thousands of moments of initiative that were bold, gutsy, and downright heretical.  Start with mind-blowing act incarnation. Go to the norm-shredding engagement with the Samaritan woman. Take a boat ride for a near death experience and an indelible lesson in faith. I think pastors need a wake-up call to follow Jesus footsteps as radical initiators.

  • What initiative do you need to take in your leadership these days?  What happiness are you forfeiting as long as you shrink back from taking it?


The final Godin quote above rocks me to the core when I think of the church. We miss dreaming large, risking big and unleashing our imaginations because we want success before commitment.  Maybe the best next step to fixing this dynamic in our organizations is to name it and identify it in our own lives.

  • What does the church you are leading express commitment toward? Albeit subtle, how does the problem of wanting success before commitment manifest itself in your life?  What dream do you want to pursue that you have failed to give yourself permission to pursue because it is too bold for your current context?


Let’s follow Jesus with greater clarity, conviction and courage. Let’s keep moving away from church as program factory toward church as redemptive tribe. 

Read Parts 1 and 2 of this series here and here; Read Part 4 here.

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Will Mancini

Will Mancini

Will Mancini wants you and your ministry to experience the benefits of stunning, God-given clarity. As a pastor turned vision coach, Will has worked with an unprecedented variety of churches from growing megachurches and missional communities, to mainline revitalization and church plants. He is the founder of Auxano, creator of and the author of God Dreams and Church Unique.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
— Glenna Hendricks
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
— winston
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
— Russ Wright

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