I’ve read a lot of really good books this year, and The Tangible Kingdom ranks right up there with the best of them. I will say this–you’ll either love it or hate it. If you’ve been a Christian for awhile and you attend a typical American church that caters to the wants and wishes of Christians–and you’re one of those Christians who wants more learning opportunities or Bible studies or potluck dinners, etc.–you’ll absolutely hate it.
I loved it.
The authors make a strong case (and use a ton of Scripture) that in order for the American church to get back on mission with God, then a lot of changes need to take place. We need to start changing our paradigm–instead of passively attracting people to us, we need to go to them and live out the gospel of the Kingdom. They take what many would call a totally backwards approach to evangelism–when the church community is living out the gospel (which, honestly, is very counter-culture to both our society and the church’s culture) in real ways each and every day in every place, people will be intrigued. Instead of “cold calling” with the gospel, our lives provide practical observation for those outside of Christ to see that we actually practice what we preach. As we build relationships and trust, God will open up doors for those conversations in which we can steer people to Jesus.
They advocate the idea that “Sojourners” (those who are not Christians but are open to Jesus) can and should participate in the life of the church community before coming to faith. In doing so, they’ll observe our lives and values. As they compare said values with their own, they’ll be drawn to Jesus. In most churches, we demand that people become Christians before participating in any aspect of the church’s life. I think these guys are really onto something.
The book shares the basic life of the church community–it revolves around our relationship with God (what they call communion), our relationship with each other (what they call community) and our relationships with those outside the church (what they call mission). They give practical ideas that we can integrate all of these things into our lives–regardless of our church setting–so that people can really see how tangible the kingdom of God really is.
So go pick this book up. Love it or hate it, you’ll gain something from it.