“Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you an automobile,” said Billy Sunday, the famous baseball-player-turned-evangelist.
His words resonate with Tribal Generation, a network of Christians in the United Kingdom trying to “reflect Jesus” in and to a generation that’s rejecting traditional religion. The network is bound together by a sophisticated Web site, www.tribalgeneration.com.
“This generation aged around 18-35 is the first culture in history that can truly be called both global and post-Christian,” according to tribalgeneration.com. “Across the world a global culture is emerging which recognises 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…”
The TG network is comprised of “tribes”—groups of people “who are meeting together, exploring new expressions of church for their generation in their locale.” For example, tribes exist in Dublin, London and Canterbury.
Members meet both with their own tribe and with other tribes for larger gatherings. They interact in five ways:
- Training (“Making Disciples”)
- Living It (“Living the Life”)
- Gathering (“Getting Together”)
- Networking (“BeingChurch”)
- Resourcing (“Being Equipped”)
And these five ways make up the five main divisions of TG’s stylish and seemingly unending Web site.
TG holds “Tribal Training,” a one-year course that equips folks to lead a relevant church in today’s culture; emphasizes social justice; brings various tribes together to inspire, equip and encourage; brings individuals into the tribes; and offers links, books and CDs relevant to the “emerging generation.”
Tribal Generation’s “administration team” works out of St. ThomasChurch in Sheffield and is “accountable to” that church’s leadership. It also works in partnership with several organizations, including 24-7prayer.com (a global prayer initiative) and TearFund (a Christian aid organization).
Tribalgeneration.com also notes that most tribes have developed out of mainstream churches like Anglican and Baptist.
Tribalgeneration.com engages the user through both style and content. Other users have submitted poems, songs, photos, even video projects examining the Christian life. Page after page chronicles what church can be, and what it is, for TG. And the recommended links merit a click, particularly the online labyrinth (www.labyrinth.org.uk).
The notion of “balance” or “moderation” subtly winds throughout tribalgeneration.com. For example, the site claims that “a balanced diet is a good thing even if it’s not always the most convenient.” It then dissects the shape of a triangle—”a symbol that can be used to remind us that as Christians we need a balanced lifestyle.”
The three points of a triangle, according to the site, remind Christians to balance their lives with emphases on God (up), each other (in) and the world (out).
And if the triangle represents a balanced lifestyle, then the circle symbolizes learning, the semi-circle represents the rhythm of life, the square stands for discipling and leadership styles, and the pentagon embodies the five ministries: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.
Tribalgeneration.com is worth a visit. But be forewarned: not everything it has to offer can be assimilated quickly. Having left a page, it’s not easy to retrace one’s steps. But perhaps that’s part of the experience. Wander, try, misstep and try again. Spend time there. Enter into a relationship. And then, and only then, will your time be best spent.
And if the allure of a savvy site isn’t enough, consider TG’s raison d’etre:
“Trends in society mean that conventional church statistically will be dead by 2020 unless a new thing happens. We don’t want to ‘mess with the message’ of Jesus, but do want to reconsider the package that carries that message.”
Cliff Vaughn is BCE’s associate director.