Sunday, May 31, 2009

Tribes, Assimilation and Connectivity

Last year I read Seth Godin's book "Tribes" and found it quite interesting, but I hard a hard time seeing how it could be put into practice, especially in a church or ministry context. Ok, people are getting connected in an increasing number of ways, community is being recognized as more important, but what do you do with that?

Todd Engstrom made an interesting post in his blog along these lines. Godin talks about Senator Bill Bradley's elements of a movement:
  1. A narrative that tells the story of who the tribe is and the alternate future they are building
  2. Connection between the movement leader and the tribe
  3. Something to do, or actionable items
Todd found the second item to be most challenging in a ministry context, and adapted these elements for church as:
  1. Narrative and alternate future = preaching and visionary leadership
  2. Connection between leader and tribe = assimilation and “community”
  3. Actionable items = mobilization
This stirred me to think the following...
  • Narrative starts with preaching, but if it’s heard well, should result in stories from the tribe as they add to that narrative.
  • Connection between people and the leader isn’t as important as connection among people, and connection to the shared vision
  • Two models for actionable items: one (for a centralized tribe) is to have a structure that supports action consistent with vision; another is a more decentralized approach where individuals come up with their own actions. The former is a powerful organization, the latter is a movement.
  • It's one thing for the leader to talk about the vision, but you know something powerful is happen when other ministry leaders and group leaders, and then their own people, are talking about the same vision.
  • Today, might connectivity precede assimilation? The way I saw his blog post was via a tweet he made, which I only saw because I happened to make some twitter comments at a leadnet show we watched on the web. I think that in today's culture, there can be no assimilation without first come connectivity being established, and with some vision being caught by the new person, one that is already resonating with them. This community and shared vision leads to assimilation, which leads to greater community, and so it grows…
  • This echoes something I learned in a recent class at Rockbridge Seminary - for many people today, belonging precedes believing - and this has deep implications for evangelism and assimilation.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the pingback, and I'm glad that you have enjoyed the discussion! I really appreciate your insights, and hope the conversation continues. Hopefully I'll get the chance to write one or two more posts about the book...

Larry Baxter said...

You're welcome Todd. That was actually my first use of trackback ever. I happened to see the trackback link for your post and tried to do this. Was shocked that blogger doesn't support trackbacks (??!) but found a site where I could do that manually ( Glad to see it worked. I look forward to any other thoughts you post on Tribes.