Home > Uncategorized > rethinking tribality

rethinking tribality

Yes, it’s dangerous, but I’ve been thinking… you know, as Rooney used to do.  I’ll let you draw most of the conclusions here.  Yeah, I know.  I’m no Rooney.  : )

Is it possible to pour one’s self into Kingdom living, supported by intimate relationships and purposeful discipleship, consistently over time, and not build or create a tribe?

Even though little remains forever (seasons come and go like lightening or molasses), it is possible to journey with a people who have also heard the same whisper;  sojourners, who get you, because they’ve been with you, followed or lead, believed with you, and then you slowly realize they are you and you are them.  Tribe starts with smelling or recognizing the code, the genetics of a spiritual existence that pulls you in.

It is possible to wear the brand of tribe but not posses the code of the tribe.  Time distinguishes and validates core values that align and manifest the core code’s existence.  In other words, you can’t cry out “mercy” and then be merciless at the same time.  You can’t preach “honor” and then not honor.  You can’t promote “team” and operate solely individualistic.  It causes too much confusion.  Secure and vested tribesmen call “bullshit” every time.

Extenuating circumstance can also stimulate the infusion of the code rapidly.  The early church thrived under pressure.  The real church in China thrives under pressure.  It thins, expands and bonds all at the same time.

Dimly, I see that there is an IHOP tribe… a Bethel tribe… a Morningstar tribe… denominational tribes… institutional tribes… cause tribes… thousands-and-thousands of tribes.  Most feel “called” to their tribe.  I like the word “called”.  Sometimes, “who” we are called to (usually strong leaders with strong code), helps determine what costs we are willing to pay, until we find what we are called to.  Considering the fact that intimate relationship and aggressive discipleship go hand in hand, the “who” can’t be overlooked.  We have to know and trust (not easy to come by at arm’s length theory or by sitting in a pew) the one downloading the code.  It’s not suppose to be a forceful indoctrination.  It can be that way, but was not Jesus’ style.  It requires a suck at the breast of love.  The code is in the milk.

The healthiest tribes have the elements of covenant without controlling paranoia.  Covenant has privilege and limitations.  I have privilege with my wife that no one else has but me.  The limitations help me protect my responsibility to honor the privilege.  It doesn’t work if she owes me because of our agreement.  It works because she freely chooses to love me back.  Covenant in marriage is for life and exclusively unique.  Trying to make all these elements fit among spiritual tribesmen might be stretching it too far.  Ultimately, the Body of Christ has to remain free enough to easily choose direction changes without fearing the loss of relationship and or alienation.  Honestly, spiritual tribes suck at this!  Tribes who close themselves and demand the return of unquestioned allegiance become inbred.  That’s not a healthy environment for the code or the tribe.

So, back to the point of the original question:  I think not.

I’ll be back… I’m not done processing.

-MDP-

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. November 16, 2011 at 7:31 am

    Thanks for wrestling through this publicly, Mike. It helps to see a man I look up to (a “spiritual father”) asking the same questions I’ve been asking.

    I think that we can be called according to “vision” and “purpose”, but I think we’re equally pulled towards a certain type of people. There’s a reason I’m naturally pulled towards my family – they’re my family! There’s a similar reason I’m naturally pulled towards my friends – they’re the people who I love to live life with! I can be me around them and they can be themselves.

    I think when we’re called according to vision, purpose, AND to a community, the way we live life is a lot more effective and powerful for the kingdom. I’m sure the people at Bethel or Morningstar or IHOP have wrestled through similar things. But it doesn’t stop them from ushering in the kingdom.

    Jesus is the common thread. He always has been and always will be.

    But to deny the existence of “tribes” even in the Church and today’s society – that’s foolish. I could keep going. I’m processing too…

  2. Amanda
    November 16, 2011 at 10:24 am

    I like what Matt said above… “Jesus is the common thread”. I think there are different tribes (groups of people who come together based on beliefs, etc.) and think it’s important for tribes not to be exclusive. (Like, my tribe’s better than yours.. etc). Kinda defeats the purpose.

    As far as covenant goes, I agree with your statement above “…easily choose direction changes without fearing the loss of relationship and or alienation.” Thankfully, in my very limited experience with covenant, I’ve only experienced freedom. In my marriage, the permissions and limitations have given me freedom – and a lot of that has to do with the man I married. (He’s a good one!)

    As far as other covenants go, I don’t think they can be compared or contrasted to the marital covenant. They’re too different. But I believe the permissions and limitations should still give one freedom. And again speaking from limited experience, I believe that covenant is more of a heart thing than anything. For me, it’s telling a dear friend of mine that I’ll love them and walk out life with them no matter what. Our covenant is based on our love for each other and our common thread of Jesus, not our expectations of each other. And that gives us both freedom. And I think that’s how God loves us -and walks in covenant with us- as well.

    So, I look at covenant as a good, healthy thing. I think it can be done.

  3. November 16, 2011 at 10:31 am

    I love your heart, Papa Mike!

  4. November 16, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    just stirring the pot a bit…

    “Jesus’ Kingship, precisely because it is so broad and so total, is doomed to be rejected by anybody who is still into tribalism and “belonging systems.” We don’t really like the big kingdom if it gets in the way of our smaller kingdoms – and it always does.” – Rohr – Adam’s Return…

    the question I’m now asking is whether his last statement is necessarily true….

    • November 17, 2011 at 6:32 am

      I love this comment by Rohr… of course, one would have to know exactly how Rohr defines tribalism in this context. I assume (an invitation to possibly being wrong) that he’s referring to a closed system that believes it has captured all truth and reality. -mdp-

      • November 17, 2011 at 8:50 pm

        i think defining terms either reveals the threat behind them or disarms the threat that is perceived.

        i agree with your assumption. as long as Christ is the truth and reality, the tribe formed isn’t a system or kingdom on it’s own, but Christ as King holds all tribes like these together. all of the sudden there can be a unified Body…where unity is impossible when tribes are defined by a truth or reality other than Christ.

  5. November 18, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    this is really…. wow…. i am kinda speechless in a good way right now, totally at the core of my heart, thank you! XOX

  6. Sage
    November 22, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    deep well! one source of truth, just ONE true source. love u!

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