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Decide to be a part of a tribe

Human beings are communal creatures. You need a context. You need people who get you and love you, warts and all.  You need a tribe of people who share your DNA. You especially need it if it’s Jesus’ radical DNA that flies in the face of our society’s materialism, narcissism, individualism, …
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

Human beings are communal creatures. You need a context. You need people who get you and love you, warts and all.  You need a tribe of people who share your DNA. You especially need it if it’s Jesus’ radical DNA that flies in the face of our society’s materialism, narcissism, individualism, and hedonism.  God never intended for us to be radical by ourselves. That’s why he put us in tribes and makes such a big deal about covenant.

We need to realize just how much we need a tribe and make that a top priority in where we choose to live and what we choose to do.  Too many of us are isolated and feel abnormal and wonder if we’re weird and need to compromise. More of us radicals need to live in the same community. And we need to do community-shaping things together.  In short, we need to find our tribe and decide to be an active part of it.

This concept of “tribe” is recognized even in the secular world. Marketing guru Seth Godin uses the Grateful Dead to show us why:

Forty years ago, Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead made some decisions that changed the music industry forever. You might not be in the music business and you may never have been to a Dead concert, but the impact the Dead made impacts almost every industry, including yours.

In addition to grossing hundreds of millions of dollars during their career, the Dead helped us understand how tribes work. They didn’t succeed by selling records (they only had one top 40 album). Instead, they succeeded by attracting and leading a tribe.

Human beings can’t help it. We need to belong. One of the most powerful and unsuccessful survival mechanisms we have at our disposal is to be part of a tribe, to contribute to (and take from) a group of like-minded people. We are drawn to leaders and their ideas, and we can’t resist the rush of belonging or the thrill of the new.

When one deadhead says to another, “2-14-70,” it’s like a secret code. The smiles and the hugs and handshakes define who we are… being in a tribe is a big part of how we see ourselves.

We want to belong not to just one tribe, it turns out, but to many. And if you give us tools and make it easy, we’ll keep joining.

Tribes make our lives better, and leading a tribe is the best life of all.

Comments (10)

  • Wilsonian: Especially in the independence-minded USA. I’m making it my life’s ambition to start a thousand coffee shops/churches around the world where grace, kingdom, discipleship, and covenant are part of the lifestyle of those who frequent them. Tribe will easily form around that.

    Hugh: 2-14-70 was one of the Dead’s best live concerts they ever recorded. Recorded at the Fillmore East in New York City, and released in February 1996. In The Music Box, John Metzger said, “I don’t think I need to tell anyone about the performance of the Grateful Dead on February 13 – 14, 1970, as these have long been fan favorites…. If you have never heard the February 13 performance of Dark Star / That’s It for the Other One / Lovelight, you must be living in a cave or have never seen the Grateful Dead. It’s one of the most amazing performances they ever did. Over 90 minutes of pure bliss that is sure to convert the unconverted.”

  • I agree with Wilsonian. Doing my best to find the radical remnant around be, but I can’t help but feel like I’m missing out on something.

  • If you want a radical tribe to take the kingdom further then my best advice is to ask God to draw them together…”Unless the Lord BUILDS His house the labourors labour in vain” ………God knows which bricks to put together, and it might not be people you thought would be a tribe.

  • one of the most wonderful “a-ha” moments in my life happened in this sweet lapa in swaziland when these two wild and crazy guys told me & 26 of my friends that there was nothing we had to do to find our tribe but be ourselves. first being obedient, then being bold & courageous – and each of us finds our tribe.

    it almost sounds too simple, but all He calls us to is to be ourselves – just as He mades us to be, doing what is ours to do, bringing His kingdom here to earth. and He equips us & delights us & leads us accordingly.

  • Finding our tribe-Hence the reason – in part – why so many people do facebook, MySpace, etc. It’s not real, but it feels real… for a while.
    “A Tribe Apart” by Patricia Hersch is a great study on teen tribes. It’s a little old, but I don’t think much has changed in terms of their felt need, just the different ways they pursue finding a tribe.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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