Kingdom Matrix (book review)

Kingdom Matrix:  Designing a Church for the Kingdom of God                                  Author:  Jeff Christopherson

This could be one of the most important books a church planter or pastor will ever read. Kingdom Matrix The author, Jeff Christopherson, hits the proverbial “nail on the head” with a clear, eye-opening analysis of the Kingdom of God.  He provides us with the language and a practical tool to distinguish between behaviors and traditions that advance the Kingdom of God,  and those that promote the domain of darkness.  The ideas in this book caught my attention, and the author’s writing style kept me glued to the text.

The author begins with a deconstruction of some popular myths related to the Kingdom of God.  First, he deconstructs the myth of the “third kingdom.”  He says, either our actions build the Kingdom of God, or they promote the domain of darkness.  There is no middle ground – no third kingdom.  Second, he attacks the myth of “church growth.”  He insists it is possible to be involved in church growth and “unintentionally be an agent for shrinking the Kingdom of God.”  This can happen when the local church, the Body of Christ, is seen as the goal of the Kingdom of God, rather than the tool to advance the Kingdom of God.  For the goal-oriented, numbers-focused leader, gathering people in a sacred building and extending the Kingdom of God are one-in-the-same.  Jesus however, gave us a different scorecard in Mark 8:35 and Matthew 25. Third, Kingdom turf – having God on our side – cannot be based on theological correctness, rather on allegiance to the King, to His redemptive purposes and His transforming presence.

After deconstructing these Christian myths, the author clarifies the confusing definitions of sacred and secular, and shows how they influence and overlap each other by constructing a very practical matrix. The matrix basically overlaps the two spiritual sources, the Kingdom of God and the dominion of darkness with the two forms we are most familiar with, sacred and secular.

Chapter five is the key chapter in the book.  When he positions the familiar forms of the sacred and secular over against the spiritual sources, four distinct quadrants emerge.  These quadrants explain the “incongruities we encounter when we simply acknowledge the world of “forms” apart from the spiritual  “sources” that underlie the forms.

He identifies these quadrants as:  the self-seeker (lover of myself), the brand expander (lover of my truth), the kingdom-seeker (lover or ideals), and the Kingdom expander (lover of Christ).  The matrix serves to reveal how specific ‘Kingdom principles’ (money, change, community, love and authority) live and thrive in each quadrant.  In other words, this matrix shows in painful clarity just how the darkness and the Kingdom of God affect both the sacred and secular forms.

Reading this book helped me to realize how much influence the dominion of darkness has in our religious activities and traditions.  His description of the ‘brand-expanders’ hit me like slap in the face.  Sometimes, even without knowing it, our focus on the local church can look more like a ‘brand-expander’ than a ‘kingdom seeker.”

There are two take-aways from this book.  First, everything we do, either advances the Kingdom of God, or promotes the domain of darkness.  Therefore, determining the source behind our behavior is more important than labeling the form.  Second, there are people who deeply value kingdom principles and yet do not identify with our faith communities or religious organizations.  It is critical that we recognize those who are ‘Kingdom seekers’ and attempt to build bridges into their lives in order to bring them into the full truth of the Gospel.

It is impossible to read this book without reflecting on how we “do church” and critically evaluating our actions and traditions related to church planting and church growth.  This is a must-read for every pastor and church planter who desires to advance the Kingdom of God on earth.

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About Larry Doyle

Dr. Larry S. Doyle is the Director of Missions of the Piedmont Baptist Association He has served as Director of Missions since September 1, 2003. His ministry began in the pastorate in Kentucky, his native state. He served as pastor of three churches while completing his undergraduate, graduate and post graduate degrees. He and his wife Becky, a native of Greensboro, served as IMB/SBC missionaries in Ecuador from 1980 to 1992. He then came to the Triad to pastor the Hispanic Baptist Church in Kernersville, NC from 1992 to 2000. He and his wife served as the On-site Coordinator for Disaster Relief in Honduras from January 2000 to January 2001. Dr. Doyle was the International Ministries Director for the Baptist Metrolina Ministries in Charlotte, NC from 2001 to 2003. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Western Kentucky University, and received a Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Larry and Becky have two sons, Steve and Tim, and are the proud grandparents of three. They attend Calvary Baptist Church in McLeansville.
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