Book Review: The Tangible Kingdom

Bruce MillerBook Reviews/Notes

The Tangible Kingdom, Creating Incarnational Community
Hugh Halter and Matt Smay

Solid readable challenge to live a missional everyday life in contrast with most consumerist passive Christians often caught in traps of religiosity. Since 2008 this thinking has become more main stream, but this book is a recent early call to leave the old paradigms and dead patterns of religion for the mission of Jesus in practical everyday life ways. The strength of the book comes from Hugh’s passion, stories and practical practices. His obvious frustration with his past church experiences comes through on purpose and helps us hear his prophetic call. Hugh and Matt open our eyes to the “sojourners” around us who are repulsed by our churches. They call us to a fresh “posture” that builds bridges rather than walls (ch 6 37ff). Their church is called Adullam which means refugee in Hebrew.

To shake us into missional thinking they make some strong statements.

    • They ask people not to be “evangelistic” but rather to build such a posture that people ask them about faith.
    • Church is not a place you go, but a people you belong with. (55)
    • We are not a church but a mission to Denver.
    • Church is a people “who” not a place “where”. (56)
    • Nice chart contrasting incarnational and attractional. (95)
    • Not believe to belong but belong to believe.
    • Use the word “apprentice” rather than the word “disciple.” (97)
    • Less focus on moment on conversion, say the prayer, but moments of transformation in a process.
    • See the gospel as more than a ticket to heaven.
    • Develop the church as neomanastic with “rules” in the sense of habits of life, rhythms, convictions
    • Rather than change structures, challenge a handful of would-be missionaries to pilot incarnational community. (131)
    • Patch Adams illus 123-4
    • In order to be going we must be leaving
    • Great concept of “whimsy” (138), “the ability to laugh, make light of, or downplay the word, behaviors, and world view of sojourners that might offend”
    • Four habits: leaving, living among, listening and loving
    • Selfishness is the enemy of “leaving”
    • Fear is the enemy of “living among”
    • Arrogance is the enemy of “listening”
    • Expectations are the enemy of “loving.” (144)
    • The primary spheres of incarnational community: communion, community and mission (three circles 148). Barriers: individualism, consumerism and materialism. Solutions are to do together more, to be one and to do for others to be less materialistic, consumeristic and individualistic. (154)
    • For community share food, friends and life. Power of eating 159-160. Oneness share Scripture, Sabbath and Solace.
    • “Church gatherings were never the intended goal; they were the natural result of people finding others who were living their alternative Kingdom story. The goal of our missional life is not to grow churches. The goal of church is to grow missionaries. The goal of the gospel is not to get people to church. The result of the gospel is that people will find each other and gather because of the deep meaning of a common experience.” (168)
    • Hugh and Matt deemphasize a Sunday “service.” But do not say not to have one.
    • For mission – habits of benevolent action, spontaneous blessing, sacrificial giving and sending of leaders.

Overall a good inspiring, convicting, challenging call to wake up pastors and church members to live missional in ordinary life to see Church as so much more than a service or club.

You will likely not agree with all Hugh and Matt say, but this book is well worth reading for the challenge to us in daily mission for Jesus. We need to be shaken up.