The Task of the Tribal Insider

Every day, hundreds of sleek, double decker buses hit the streets of San Francisco, driving 10,000 Silicon Valley tech workers to and from home.

As soon as they step onto these Wi-Fi enabled buses, they are able to start their workdays, and many also find community during their rides to Google, Facebook, Apple and other companies.

Many eat breakfast at work, and also find it easier to eat free lunch, dinner and snacks there as well. Sometimes there are haircut pop-up trucks parked outside of Google, and other times places to drop off dry cleaning. Need a gym? Use the company exercise room. Take advantage of the company library, game rooms or bring-your-dog-to-work policy.

Learn the Google, Facebook, Apple culture and language.

[Tweet “Who will reach these tribes?”]

It seems possible to live your entire life at Google, as a member of its tribe. (Well maybe except being part of a church.) Who will reach them?

Innovative ministry

There was a time when Yahoo, based in San Francisco, set out to meet potential employees for their own company, hung out at bus stops to meet tech workers who were frustrated by their long commute. They rolled coffee (or chai) carts to these bus stops and tried to recruit new employees.

What if churches reached out to the bus stop crowd with coffee each morning?

Better yet, what about bivocational insiders. Church planters to the tech industry who are employed at these businesses and reach them from the inside out?

Uber and Lyft drivers thrive in San Francisco. The frustration of crowded commutes, difficulty in finding parking, high parking fees and crowded public transportation systems make Uberpool an attractive and economically viable option to residents of America’s second densest large city.

Curious, however, is that drivers come in from other cities like Sacramento and San Diego to spend a few days, or a whole workweek. In a city that never sleeps, their schedules are 24 hours, and their wages are decent, especially for those with limited English skills who have trouble finding good work.

The flexible hours have made it easy to create Uber and Lyft houses, where drivers with different schedules, only in the city for a few days a week, live together, sharing space and sleeping in shifts.

Many we have met are Muslim men. Away from friends and family, they are their own tribe, yet most I have met are willing to talk and to listen. About any topic. Any topic at all. What if bivocational Christian drivers lived in these houses, and hosted evangelistic Bible studies at nearby coffee shops at two o’clock on Tuesday afternoons when requests for drivers are lower? What are the best, least busy, most available times for Lyft and Uber drivers to engage in Christian community formed by new churches?

Cities like San Francisco are certainly not the only places where tribe-like groups of people can be discovered. For example, Vrindavan, India is sometimes called the sacred city of widows, as is Varanasi, recognized as one of the holy cities of India, and home to over 38,000 widows.

In Indian culture, young girls often marry men decades older than themselves, who then become widows while still young. Widows are largely forgotten and abandoned. They are ostracized based on traditional Hindu superstitions, and it is believed by many that just the shadow of a widow can bring bad luck, so nobody wants to help them.

Because they married young, they have little education, training or job skills, and are impoverished. In addition, they are ostracized based on traditional Hindu superstitions. Widows in many places India are a hidden group of people— a tribe that desperately needs the gospel.

Would they be reached best by groups of Christian widows who know how to reach out to these lonely and abandoned women?

Who are the new tribes among us? Night shift workers who sleep during the day? Street vendors who rely on each other for safety and community? Motorcycle clubs of people who spend the weekend riding together? Chinese restaurant workers who live together in dormitories, work on Sundays, and send their paychecks home to China? How can they be reached by bivocational, lifestyle, trade, and club members who are part of their own tribe?

[Tweet “Who are the new tribes among us? “]

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands. 

And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.”

Rev 7:9, Rev 5:9

Every tribe. Every single tribe.

The following two tabs change content below.
Linda Bergquist

Linda Bergquist

Linda is a church planting catalyst and coach, and teacher in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. She teaches church planting, urban immersion and cross cultural ministry classes as an adjunct at various seminaries. Linda is the co-author of Church Turned Inside Out, The Wholehearted Church Planter and author of the Exponential eBook The Great Commission and the Rest of Creation.
Linda Bergquist


  1. Odelle Jun 5, 2017 Reply

    This was an awesome article, as are so many of the articles your team shares. Thank! God bless.

  2. Kyle Malkin Jun 14, 2017 Reply

    Thanks for sharing this! Amen to the challenge! Father God, please help us reach the remaining lost tribes of people!

  3. Josh Jun 20, 2017 Reply

    If we were to move overseas we would consider this so we should consider this in
    our own backyards 🙂

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *