The Tangible Kingdom by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay is essentially a how-to manual for creating a missional / incarnational church. Halter (who is the main voice of the book), both autobiographically and instructionally, defines and describes what a people who are on mission for God (missio dei) should look like. I imagine that many people will balk at this book because of its high focus on being missional and its low focus on typical church forms (such as the church services and preaching). And frankly there are parts of Halter and Smay’s suggestions that I disagree with and think are a tad short-sided; however, this is still one of the best missional how-to books that I’ve ever read. Something clicked in my mind during the reading of this book, and I feel like I suddenly sort of “get it” now.
A good percentage, not a small sliver, of my life should be spent in my neighborhood and at my local haunts, engaging people, forming friendships with them, and serving them. The chance to share Christ with them will grow naturally, integratedly out of these friendships. Evangelism isn’t this thing I go do, missional is the way I live. I know these sorts of statements can sound scary to those in the traditional church world because it might be assumed that this sort of approach is taken out of fear of sharing your faith. And further, that the missional approach I’m describing here will lead to no conversion fruit because all the focus will be put on friendships and none will be put on evangelism. But this is not what Halter and Smay are suggesting. What they are advocating is a truly integrated lifestyle where people hear about faith, see it demonstrated repeatedly, and then naturally ask questions and feel God tugging at their hearts and come to faith in Christ. This is actually more work than evangelism, not less. It’s hospitality and evangelism. It’s more integrated and not compartmentalized.
Like I said, there are parts of the book that are a little over-the-top for me, but I still think that this is a great book. Read with discernment, but plan on being challenged, and hopefully inspired. Our church planting team will definitely be reading through this book and applying much of what it advocates.