Wednesday, July 07, 2010

The Tangible Kingdom

When the friend who recommended reading The Tangible Kingdom asked me how I liked it, I said, "It's missional church served with a lot of beer."

My statement came from the authors/village leaders' strategy of living out their kingdom life in what they call "incarnational community." This meant to them spending time where people hang out and joining them in normal celebrations and gatherings in order to build intentional relationships-something more Christ followers need to be about.

Halter and Smay are practitioners, and that is what I like about their work. It is built on how they live out their mission and vision week in and week out as Adullam, a church in Denver. Little theory, much practice.

My favorite chapter title is "The 1,700-year Wedgie," the best description of the institutionalization of the church I've read.

I like the book because it parallels much of what Steve Pate and I wrote about in Evangelism Where You Live. (Chalice, 2008) Along with the missional emphasis on living out the kingdom in your community and a similar challenge to an attractional approach to being the church, the concept of "place" is important to both strategies. The "where" of the church is as important as the "what" of the church.

I also liked their emphasis on members as missionaries. I have been talking about the ekkliesia being missionaries like Halter and Smay for some time. (Paul on Leadership, 2004) I hope more see and live as the church on mission this way.

Their "pyramid" tipped on its side is a visual model for their strategy which can be translated into most any church who desires to be an incarnational community of kingdom people. You'll need the author's consulting help if you are in a program-driven church, however. Don't try this on your own.

I appreciate their lack of buildings, neighborhood focus, and minimized church structure and gatherings but know that is not fully an option where I serve. Their model should be considered for those in more unchurched communities who want to rub shoulders with those who live and work around them. It can also challenge us who serve out of a base of operations in buildings to spend more time in coffee shops, serving centers, and neighborhood gatherings.

Get the book, read it, and begin the journey with the authors. You can read more and contact the authors at The Tangible Kingdom website.

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