Review: The Tangible Kingdom

by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay

“Their goal wasn’t to attract people to worship services, but to be the faithful church in small pockets throughout their city. Based on their experiences, the authors offer some intentional activities and habits of life that can help a faith community make God’s kingdom more tangible.”

This is probably one of the most subjective reviews I will ever write.

First a little backstory…

This book caught my attention several months ago, and I have had the lingering thought that I ought to get it.  The things I read about it resonated with me, and I added the author’s blog to my reader.

Fast forward…

Monday evening, July 7

Sitting around visiting with a couple of friends and once again poking around the topic of “what’s next?”

Tuesday, July 8, 9:00 a.m.

Because of the previous night’s conversation, I checked Amazon about ordering The Tangible Kingdom, but didn’t actually place the order.

Tuesday, July 8, 9:15 a.m.

I walked downstairs to my office and discovered a book package from The Ooze’s Mike Morrell in that day’s mail.  As I proceeded to rip the package open, voila, into my hands fell a copy of The Tangible Kingdom.  I was almost giddy!

Was this “it”?  It is dangerous to crack open a book with such high expectations.

Frustratingly, I had no time to read it for over a week!   Dang it.

Finally this weekend, I was able to squeeze in enough hours to quickly read it for the first time.  I will certainly be going back through slowly to absorb it all.

I encountered this book on a deeply personal level, looking for answers, hopeful that it would be useful in some way for our current situation.  Did it live up to such lofty expectations?  Maybe.  Time will tell.

So many people that I know seem to be standing at the edge of deconstruction, disillusionment, and disappointment with church, facing a seemingly uncrossable chasm to the other side of “where do we go from here?”

While this book isn’t necessarily a step-by-step guide or a detailed map, it is definitely a compass providing tangible direction for moving forward. Not focused on a particular model of church, the authors present a way to move forward in missional expression for every follower of Christ.

It is quite thorough in setting the stage with the basics of missional/incarnational concepts, obviously influenced by Frost and Hirsch, yet explained in a very engaging manner that seems to portray the essence of these ideas with ease. It is also very practical and accessible in detailing how this can actually be lived out in real time in the real world with real people.

Maybe it was just the right book at the right time for me, but it is at the top of my list of emerging/missional books that I have read. I would recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone who finds themselves on this missional journey.


7 thoughts on “Review: The Tangible Kingdom

  1. Grace,

    I am very tempted to get this book … I’ve heard of it, but when you say that it give some concrete ideas of how to make the theory live, well, it caught me.

    We’ll see…. 8)

  2. Peggy,
    I felt like the book gave me a point in the right direction, not necessarily specific how to’s. I would love to attend the intensive in October, but the idea of going scares me also.

  3. A few months back, we noticed on your blog that you wrote about The Tangible Kingdom by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay. Thanks for taking the time to do that.

    One of the questions Matt and Hugh often received following the launch of that book was “Loved the book, but how do I get my community to do that?” The newly launched The Tangible Kingdom Primer is our effort to help small groups and churches do just that. It is an 8-week guide to creating missional and incarnational communities.

    If you would like to receive a free copy of the Primer, please contact us at: books{AT} Please provide your name, the street mailing address you would like it delivered to (no P.O. Box please) and your email address. In the subject line, put Tangible Kingdom Primer Blog Copy.

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