#Tribes Group Blogging Day 2

April 14, 2009 at 12:12 pm (Book) ()


I am pretty stoked to be a part of this good, ole fashioned book club across the vast interwebs. (If you have no idea what I am talking about, stop and go to THE Details and My Explanation and John’s Day 1.)

Today, I want to share with you a few of my MVPs (Most Valuable Principles) and some of my Questions about Tribes, pages 6-12.


  • Tribes are EVERYWHERE! (in/out of organizations, in classrooms, in nonprofits, in churches) And they need leaders!
  • We no longer have to ask whether or not it is possible for me to lead a tribe, we only need to ask if we are willing to do it. (How empowering!!)
  • People WANT to do something with their lives that they BELIEVE in, not just something that benefits their wallet or their company.
  • FEAR impedes many people from stepping up to the plate and leading a tribe. (Fear of change, fear of loss, fear of our boss.)
  • “HERETICS are the new leaders. The ones who challenge the status quo, who get out in front of their tribes, who create movements.” (I love that about the direction our society is headed.  It is expected, embraced and rewarded to lead a tribe in a brand new direction!) (Oh yeah, for my church readers- we are NOT talking about theological heresy here.  FYI!)
  • “Suddenly, heretics, troublemakers, and change agents aren’t merely thorns in our side– they are keys to our success.”

Some questions for discussing today:

  • Seth Godin provides some great examples of tribes and their leaders.  Which ones did he miss?
  • What are some of the ‘beliefs’ driving the tribes you are involved in/leading?
  • In your experience and observation, what are some things that hold people back from being a heretic?
  • What part of your organization, business, church, etc., needs a heretic, LIKE RIGHT NOW?
  • Where do YOU need to step up and lead, heretically speaking?

Let the discussion begin.



  1. human3rror said,

    Typically one of the most interesting leaders that sometimes is not mentioned is Hitler. I’m not sure what that necessarily says about me, but, I think he provides an amazing example of what leaders and their impact on people and their ability to “move”… his intentions weren’t the greatest…

    I believe the tribe that i’m leading is interested in web technology and it’s use for the Gospel and the greater Church. I think people are genuinely interested in seeing how efficacious it truly can be.

    comfort keeps me from being a heretic. also, control. i want to keep my job…!

    i want to begin to experiment even more with how we use web tech to reach people… and i’m going to do it through my blog.

    great stuff today!

    • Susan K. Stewart said,

      Right On! I’ve been saying that for a decade or more, John. I’m in your tribe. See you are a leader.

    • Kevin Gilbert said,

      John, you are right on with all of that. That is the primary reason I began to follow your blog and your tweets is because I completely identified with your tribe. I’ve been interested in web technology and how it can be used to spread the good news. I truly believe that we can have an incredible impact through the internet. We just need to lead.

  2. Susan K. Stewart said,

    The non-profit I work for part-time needs a heretic in the area of web technology. I’m the Web Content Manager. Although the board “wants” to have an active presence, they don’t want to any heretics to lead the way. I push, they shove.

    Why? Fear! In this case, it is fear of the unknown. Even as a 50-something woman, I’m the geekiest of the staff and board.

    Fear of boogies. All the sensational reports has those in charge peering in the dark corners expecting bad stuff to jump out.

    Fear of offense. Just yesterday I posted a YouTube vid of one our speakers. It probably won’t stay because of fear of offending someone. The video isn’t offensive; YouTube is. (Back to the boogies on YouTube.)

    How do I lead this motley band of “leaders?” I keep pushing the envelope. I argue. (Ahemm … I state my case and logic.) I don’t quit. I keep looking for other tribe members; one of them may well become the leader.

    • billyjohnsonlive said,

      Susan– love the boogie fear part! It seems like so many people are afraid, but NO IDEA what they are afraid of!!

    • Chris Downs said,

      I like the idea that sometimes we are only leaders for a season, until a better one comes along. A good leader should always be building others into great leaders, sometimes even to replace themselves.

      • Jathaniel Cavitt said,

        Well said Chris. A true leader must be willing to equip and send new leaders. True leaders must allow others to stand on their shoulders and reach for the goal–which in effect excludes them from the spotlight.

      • Frank Jenkins said,

        I think that may be a large problem today. Leaders don’t think that it’s OK to lose your position of authority to a better leader. Be it ego or just fear of the unknown, some people fear turning over the reins.

      • billyjohnsonlive said,

        You are right on the money Chris! I have heard it said that the best indicator of a good leader is reproduction, not results! (But you have to step up and be the leader BEFORE you can have any hopes of reproducing!)

      • Chris Downs said,

        It’s what the apostle’s were all about. In Greek the word apostle meant “to send out” or “one who is sent.” We need to be sending people out, following their example, and creating leaders. Not to say that those leaders don’t need leaders themselves, some sort of headship and accountability, but we have GOT to start training people.

  3. Phillip Gibb said,

    Being a heretic can be hard work. To some it comes naturally, but that does not mean it is good.
    Fear of change can go hand in hand with the fear of effort.
    One thing that I have noticed as I have become more and more involved with Social Media is that it takes a lot of work.
    Even Chris Brogan agrees by saying that it is just as difficult as it seems

    A really good positive about that is that someone who knows the effort and difficulty involved yet is still intentional and willing to forge the way – that person is a good person to follow.

  4. #Tribes - Day 2 - MVPs - Keeper of the Sound said,

    […] Johnson has day two of Tribes Group Blogging Project. For more info on Tribes Group Blog, check here. Share and […]

  5. Chris Downs said,

    I think one of the biggest thoughts that can hold someone back is believing that they are incapable of being a leader. We have that problem sown throughout our youth group and it’s something we are always fighting by encouraging and showing them how they can be leaders. An important aspect to get past this is to make them see it for them self by placing them in a position of leadership. As Mr. Gibb said, to some people it comes naturally, others need to be placed in a position where they have no choice to discover things in themselves they didn’t previously know about.

    In my church we have a severe shortage of heretics. The people creating new ideas and new adventures to do greater things in the church are the same people who are already loading down their plates with the projects they’re currently working on. I think that there are too many people who are afraid of leadership and the amount of responsibility that can come with it. Also, too many people (in society in general) are consumed by this idea that there is someone better for the job. While this may hold true as a fact, it does not always make it an immediate reality.

    • Frank Jenkins said,

      I don’t think the problem in the church is so much fear as it is comfort. People have become comfortable as sheep. Fat, unmoving sheep.

      • billyjohnsonlive said,

        and what they don’t realize is this: fat, unmoving sheep run out of grass quick!!!

      • Chris Downs said,

        Lol, I love it Billy.

  6. Paul Steinbrueck said,

    >>HERETICS are the new leaders… Suddenly, heretics, troublemakers, and change agents aren’t merely thorns in our side– they are keys to our success.

    I have mixed feelings about these statements. I do agree that leaders innovate and challenge the status quo. But…

    Could you imagine a company where everyone was rallying their own tribe to push their own agenda?

    Could you imagine a church where everyone was rallying their own tribe to push their own agenda?

    A “heretic” can be good if their agenda is consistent with the agenda of the organization like someone in a church championing better use of Internet technology. But heretics can be bad if they’re pushing a vision that is contrary to that of the organization, like say a universalist within a Christian church.

    The big challenge, however, is that most “heretics” are not completely inline with the goals of the organization but they’re not completely opposed to them either. So, whether they are “the keys to our success” is often quite controversial.

    • Adam_S said,

      I agree that purpose is a big issue. Inside the church we should be able to agree that the large purpose of following Christ should be at the forefront. But many, if not most, don’t spend much time seeking after Christ’s purpose and instead head after their own.

      In the context of the church maybe what we need in heretics first is the desire to seek first the Kingdom of God and not our own.

      I think if the church is not seeking after Christ and the heretic is, even if it is not the direction of the church then follow the heretic.

      One issue I have with Godin is that he, like most of American culture, seems to emphasize the individual too much. The way a heretic keeps from being heretical (theologically) is by having a community to keep them grounded in the faith.

      • Paul Steinbrueck said,

        Adam, I agree. We do need to check the motives of both the church and the “heretic.”

        In the case where one is seeking first the kingdom of God and the other is not, then we know whether the “heretic” is good or bad for the church. But my experience is that often the motives of both are godly.

        Often there are tribes that want to change the music or the organizational structure or the way money is used or the senior pastor. While these tribes can be motivated out of self-interest, they can also be motivated out of a genuine desire to seek first the kingdom of God and simply have different ideas about how that is best done.

      • Adam_S said,

        Sorry if this comes in the wrong place I couldn’t get it to reply directly to Paul’s comment.

        I am using the term “seek God” slightly differently than you are Paul. I believe you are using it more generally to suggest that both the organization and the heretic are both generally seeking after God with the right motives. I am using it more specifically to suggest that while motives may be both good and intentions are good, often neither the organization or the heretic has spend much time actually “seeking after God” for that specific next step. Maybe that is why I am not a very good heretic, I think we should spend a lot more time in prayer (especially group prayer) seeking after God for direction. We too often use our creativity and then ask God to bless what we are already doing, instead of seeking after God for direction and then using our creativity to accomplish what God has set before us.

      • Paul Steinbrueck said,

        Adam, I think you hit the nail right on the head. Great observation, and an important distinction to make.

    • Jathaniel Cavitt said,

      Well, ideally a local church is a tribe with the same agenda-core values, bedrock beliefs, etc-therefore every agenda that falls under that foundation of trust–that is what makes it a tribe. I don’t believe that Godin speaks of heresy in the theological sense. He uses the terminology of religion to better articulate his point. Heresy in Godin’s sense is someone who truly thinks outside the box (the box being the status quo).

      In my experience, heretics within the tribe are inline with the beliefs that hold the group together but there are not necessarily in line with how we go about achieving that goal. “The way it’s always been done” makes a heretic’s skin crawl.

      • Adam_S said,

        I agree that Godin is not talking about theological heretics(although there was a Christian publisher that I won’t mention by name that railed on the book because he couldn’t seem to separate the concepts of organizational heretic and theological heretic.)

  7. Phillip Gibb said,

    I gotta say, my Pastor is a Heretic.
    that just sounds so wrong – lol.
    But in the context of this discussion – that is what he is.

    We have gone thru sooo much change, developed a relationship with NorthPoint, moved venues, moved again.
    Now we are going to rename and rebrand as a Church. I enjoy the fact that my Pastor is a Heretic and a visionary. Woot.

  8. Andy Darnell said,

    Great post Billy. A bit more focused than my rant on my site 🙂

    We need to begin thinking of ourselves as heretics. We also need to remember that there are going to be those followers of the tribe that do not have the same passion or beliefs as we do.

    Good Stuff. I’m enjoying this blogging bookclub more and more. I’m enjoying mixing with new people.

    • Frank Jenkins said,


      I think that’s why I became a heretic. I grew tired of watching people just sit. There is an expectation from Jesus’ declaration of The Great Commission and I think a lot of churched people are missing that point.

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  11. Paul Steinbrueck said,

    Adam, I think you hit the nail right on the head. Great observation, and an important distinction to make.

  12. Kevin M. said,

    Here are the two main definitions of heretic: (1) a person who holds religious beliefs in conflict with the dogma of the Church and (2) a person who holds unorthodox opinions in any field (not merely religion). According to the second definition and Godin’s use of the word, Jesus was the greatest “heretic” who ever lived! (Wow! That sounds very wrong!) Jesus challenged the supposed “orthodox” views/opinions of the religious leaders of that day. In the church we need more heretics like Jesus! It is so easy to just settle for the status quo and to become complacent. We need to stop putting God in our nice, neat and tidy box!

    Now I need to go out and live this!

    • billyjohnsonlive said,

      Uh oh…I am calling the theology police….you definitely just called Jesus a heretic! ha ha!

      • Kevin M. said,

        Yep I certainly did! 🙂 I guess that would make me a heretic too!

  13. Phillip Gibb said,

    Really looking forward to the days ahead, there has been great discussion right off the bat – very cool.
    Even got me considering if I should start being a heretic.

  14. Jarrod Skeggs said,

    Referencing your second question Billy, for us, the primary belief that knits our Tribe together is the belief that the Apple/Macintosh is the end all, be all, computing platform…for business. While Apple is super present with Consumers, their traction in business has only come about recently. So, we lead business people to embrace and harness the power that comes with the Apple/Macintosh platform.

    In reference to question 3, I think you are either born a heretic or you aren’t. Heretics and Renegades are just wired that way. I know, cause I’m one of them. What do y’all think?

    • Kevin M. said,

      I definitely think there is a pre-disposition to being a renegade/heretic. I agree that some people are just wired that way. I think you can see this at a very young age. My oldest daughter who is now 10 is definitely a renegade/heretic and we have seen this from a very young age. She has no problem questioning the status quo and standing up for what she believes to be right. She is definitely NOT a follower which has it’s own pro’s and con’s especially when it comes to parenting her 🙂

  15. Kevin Gilbert said,

    I think one of the things that struck me in these particular pages was the reminder Seth gives:

    “The real power of tribes has nothing to do with the Internet and everything to do with people. You don’t need a keyboard to lead…you only need the desire to make something happen.”

    For me, as a webby/techie/geeky sort of guy, this is something that I have to constantly remind myself of; it’s not always about how cool the tech is, or what the latest platform is for distributing the message, it’s about the impact that message has on the folks it connects with.

    Regarding some of the heretical talk, 😉 I know, as Jarrod mentioned our being Apple Mac guys, the story behind the original Mac. Steve Jobs was in fact flying a pirate flag and leading a group of engineers to design and develop the Macintosh. Had he not done that in that way, Apple would have surely gone the way of the dodo.

    And I agree with Jarrod in that I believe there probably is a genetic predisposition to go against the flow.

    Keep up the great conversation.

  16. phil said,

    I’m coming into this post a bit late as I was at the Hannah Montana movie with my 6 year old. Don’t worry, I was wearing my Iron Maiden tour shirt so that people knew I wasn’t taking the movie to seriously and it was about my daughter, not me.
    Anyway, going back a bit, Adam, what you said stood out to me on how people need to seek after God. I was talking to my Fijian friend Villy today and we were talking about how we ask the question “what do you think?” more than we ask the question “What does God think?” This has gotten me into trouble before, feeling like I am a heretic because I go against others, but it is me going against others with my own blessing, not Gods. I am afraid at times to be a heretic for God as I have an unhealthy fear of man, but I am realizing if I want to be a leader of a tribe I need a healthy fear of God, and no fear of man.

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