Maybe Tribes is the book that all of us involved in church marketing have been looking for, the book that acknowledges that we are trying to do more than just find people to keep the pews warm or the collection plates full. We want everyone to know about us, but more than that, we want everyone to know God.
Widely acclaimed marketing guru Seth Godin has written a manifesto for those people who are born to do more than influence. Tribes is a book for anyone who just has to lead.
According to Godin, tribes form around leaders, and the tribes that he’s most interested in are those that are on the move–those groups of people who are playing a part, forming a movement, going somewhere with purpose and desire to create change.
You could be the guy who has been put in charge of the woefully underfunded church web site that needs a major redesign if anyone is going to look at it again. Or you could be the girl who works with the youth group who is tolerated rather than loved, but you know that there’s a brilliant group just waiting to bust out and take your community by storm. Well, this book is for you. “Leadership is a choice,” Godin writes. “It’s the choice to not do nothing. Lean in, back off, but don’t do nothing.”
You don’t have to wait to be appointed to a position of authority to start making a change or starting a movement. Chances are, by the time you have that position of authority you’ve probably lost the energy or desire to make a difference. Instead, this is for those people, whatever their position, who just know that things need to change. For those who cannot put up with one more notice sheet with the pastor’s message on the front page because it’s the most boring 200 words ever written; or for those with the knowledge that at some point, someone, has to start working with the homeless guys who sleep outside the front door of the church every night.
Of course there are people who aren’t going to like change. Change is difficult, change hurts and it will probably hurt the leaders of these tribes more than most. Marketers have been aware of this for years and Godin reminds us of the marketers’ mantra, “Change isn’t made by asking permission. Change is made by asking forgiveness, later.” But, let’s face it, if you’re really up for leading a tribe, you’re probably happier with the idea of failure than the idea of doing nothing.
Godin acknowledges that the real leaders won’t be put off by the idea of failure. True leaders, when their time has come and they just have to make the change, will step up to the plate and do everything they can to make a difference, “I think we have an obligation to change the rules,” he writes, “to raise the bar, to play a different game, and to play it better than anyone has any right to believe is possible.”
So if your idea of church marketing is to make a real difference to your church community, then this is the book for you. OK, it’s not going to tell you how to get your church to see things from an outsider’s perspective or the details of how to run an effective advertising campaign, but it may just be the encouragement you need to take the lead on some of these things yourself.
So here’s my recommendation. Buy the book, read the book, read it again and maybe again, but don’t stop there. Call your friends, talk to people who can help you, work out where your gifts are—whether it’s design, communication, copywriting, etc.–and start to lead your tribe forward in this area.