In this fourth post on Take Seth Godin to Church I want to focus on Tribal Movement. Consider using the questions in these posts for staff or volunteer meetings in the month of December. Use the Advent season to see Jesus as the coming founder of a redemptive tribe called The Church. The previous two posts dealt with tribal passion and tribal leadership.
In Tribes, Godin references Senator Bill Bradley who unpacks the anatomy of a movement with three essentials:
Here are some questions for each essential:
Note: Creation stories and signature stories are discussed further in Church Unique.
Doing Without Limits
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.
“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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Here are my three favorite Seth Godin quotes pertaining to tribal passion:
“Do you believe in what you do? Every day? It turns out that belief happens to be a brilliant strategy. Can you imagine Steve Jobs showing up for the paycheck? It’s nice to get paid, its essential to believe.”
“Caring is the key emotion at the center of the tribe… Many organizations are unable to answer the question, “Who cares?” because in fact, no one really does. If you don’t care – really and deeply care – then you can’t possibly lead.“
“The organizations of the future are filled with smart, fast, flexible people on mission. The thing is, that requires leadership.”
Because every leader in your church can be placed on a continuum of emotional ownership, consider these questions for team discussion:
You’ve probably been exposed to Seth Godin’s book, Tribes. But have you integrated his ideas into your thinking and leadership at church?
Integrating new learning for me always happens in stages. For example:
I share these thoughts regarding Seth Godin’s book because it is easy to get stuck in the emotional satisfaction of having been exposed to the idea without applying it. For example, when I met Seth hanging out backstage at Catalyst in 2008, I could proudly talk about the ideas in his book, but I had not read it. It took me another six months before I did.
The bottom line: I think Tribes is a book worth engaging as church leaders. And I would love to help you get past a surface exposure. In fact you may want to grab a free audio copy or a free copy of his companion tool.
To help you I have prepared some future posts with my favorite quotes from the book and questions for team discussion.
My dominant thought in this series is “How are you managing a program factory (whether overtly or sub-consciously) in the name of church, rather than leading a redemptive tribe in the name of Jesus?”
Take a look at Part 2 of this series here.