If you spend any time around the internet, you’ll probably recognize this word: “tribe.” Now for hundred of years “tribe” was a pretty unassuming member of the English language, content to describe a discrete sociological structure. But over the course of the last five years, it’s had a bit of a growth spurt due in part to a leadership paradigm that Seth Godin popularized in his book (aptly titled) Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us.
Since then, it seems that everyone of influence is busy forming a tribe. Even (especially?) among Christians. There is a theologically progressive tribe, a theologically conservative tribe, a missional tribe, a mundane tribe, and of course, a tribe just for those too cool for any of these other tribes. And in the irony that is the human experience, those of us speaking most loudly against racism and prejudice are often the first to coalesce into tribes to do it.
So that the Tribe intended to trump all others continues to be defined by tribalism.
The other funny thing about all this tribal language is that it often misses the whole point of being a tribe. While today’s tribes form around common interests and common leaders, in the historical sense, a tribe was the result of a common ancestor in a common location. You don’t belong to a tribe because you choose to be in it; you belong to a tribe because you’ve been born into it. And once you are, you remain in it by sharing life with the other members. You live in the same space. Read more about My Tribe