They stress prayer and worship; sharing, supporting and encouraging in small groups; service; and witnessing.

Opportunities for education, training, networking and resourcing abound. Mentoring and accountability are part of the package, too.

“As followers of Jesus we are called to live the kind of life Jesus did; to become more like him,” they declare. And they find many opportunities to do so.

They seem to be about the business of making disciples in ways that fit their culture and their background.

They sound a lot like the church, don’t they? But you would be hard pressed to find them in a church building somewhere. And maybe that’s the point.

“They” are Tribal Generation, a network of Christians in the United Kingdom bound together by a lively and informative Web site ( Their goal is to “reflect Jesus” in and to a generation that’s rejecting traditional religion.

Groups of people comprising the TG network are called “tribes” and exist in places like Dublin, London and Canterbury. They meet together in an effort to find new ways to “do” church for their generation where they live.

Citing societal trends, they say that unless some things change, the conventional church statistically will be dead by 2020. “We don’t want to ‘mess with the message’ of Jesus, but do want to reconsider the package that carries that message,” they assert.

“This generation aged around 18-35 is the first culture in history that can truly be called both global and post-Christian. Across the world a global culture is emerging which recognizes the same language, listens to the same music, acknowledges the same brands, is fed the same values. It’s a generation that is rejecting traditional religion and won’t be found in church on Sundays, but underneath and inside, God is on the move . . .” (see “Tribal Generation“).

It used to be that you could recognize a church by its building, regardless of where you were. In fact, church buildings around the world looked much like those in America for a good while. That’s because for many years, the Christian missionary movement assumed that new converts, regardless of their nationality or ethnicity, must be westernized in order to be Christianized.

Consequently, church buildings for these new converts were built to look not like the surrounding architecture but instead like the church around the corner on Main Street, USA. And American church programs were also imposed upon them, regardless of their suitability.

Fortunately, we’ve deepened our understanding of church and realize that it’s not all about buildings or programs.

All over the world, Christians of all races, cultures and nationalities have begun to do church contextually through establishing community, fellowship and relationships. Often without a building and sometimes without so much as a program or a study book other than the Bible, they are making disciples.

And that’s the business of the church.

For additional thoughts to challenge your class as you teach “Church as Discipleship-Making,” check out these articles:

Asking the Hard Questions of Your Church” and “When the Pinches of Change Come.”

Jan Turrentine is managing editor of Acacia Resources.

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