The Matrix

The Matrix expands our perception of the communication process through this full, two-dimensional model. It is beautiful in its simplicity. It separates out knowledge (cognitive) elements into the vertical axis (y-axis) while attitudinal dimensions belong to the horizontal (x-axis). Positive numbers are represented upwards and to the right, while negative are the reverse. The Engel Scale is therefore inverted.

Spiritual conversion is not merely a matter of acquiring knowledge (or developing a positive attitude towards Christian belief). The Matrix depicts conversion to Christ as taking place at the horizontal axis, or “0” on the vertical scale. Conversion is about being drawn to Christ based on an adequate understanding of God and an openness of heart. It is about knowing God through Jesus Christ. It is a process controlled by the Holy Spirit.

Its primary purpose is to help us better understand our role as communicators of this very precious Gospel which has been entrusted to us in jars of clay. It addresses the crucial issue of finding the appropriate level of Gospel communication for our audience wherever they may be in their understanding and openness. In reality it is no different from finding appropriate things to talk about with our neighbours or those we may meet in the market.

The basic Matrix model

The levels of -7 to +7 and -3 to +3 merely illustrate possible stages or phases, and do not imply a strict representation of the process. The latest revision (TGMX) extends the vertical ‘y’ axis, beginning at -10. Click on TGMX for details…

Screen Shot TGMThe vertical scale depicts the extent of a person’s awareness and knowledge of the Gospel, from a minimal awareness level of -7 through to a nominal +4 where the centre-point of 0 might be considered the conversion zone.

Zone is a preferred term since it is not always clearly defined. It might also be noted that the point at which a person’s attitude moves from negative to positive is also not clearly defined. The peak of +4 is purely arbitrary, not intended to convey the impression that a person has arrived once a certain level of spiritual knowledge has been attained. It is a continuing process.
The labels assigned to each level are not intended to be precise since this is not a precise exercise but serve, rather, to illustrate the increase in understanding that takes place.

The horizontal axis depicts a person’s openness to the Gospel and Christian teaching. On the left side we have those who are closed or who are rejecting it. To the right are those who are open and desire to know more. Expressed in another way we could say that those on the left are moving away from Christ, while those on the right are moving toward him.

What the Matrix demonstrates

It demonstrates in graphical terms where a person or people group is in terms of their spiritual development. By so doing it serves as a tool to help us better understand how we need to be communicating with these people. We shall also see later how it is extremely useful for helping us take stock of any outreach we are currently doing and will show us whether it meets the mark.

Matrix quadrants

The matrix approach provides us with four distinct quadrants (or areas). Each quadrant displays a different set of characteristics. The further from the centre point the more extreme are these characteristics while the closer to the centre the less pronounced they become. But in general terms people in the four quadrants display the following:

Quadrant A (bottom left):

  • closed toward the Gospel and ignorant of it
  • rejecting the message
  • unaware of the Gospel and possibly indifferent to it
  • possibly opposed toward Christian outreach or evangelism
  • hostile or resistant to Christians and church activity

Quadrant B (bottom right):

  • open toward Gospel and hungry to know more
  • accepting the message
  • welcoming toward Christians and Christian activity
  • a ripe harvest field

Quadrant C (top right):

  • born-again Christians — members of a fellowship of believers (if there
  • is one, and they are at liberty to attend)
  • growing in Christ
  • active in the Church
  • bringing others to a knowledge of Christ
  • demonstrating God’s grace at work in their lives through the Holy Spirit

Quadrant D (top left):

  • a difficult group who have experienced conversion but have back-slidden or dropped out of active fellowship
  • negative toward Christians and the Church
  • spiritually cold
  • unlikely to be impacted through mass media but patiently and personally brought back into fellowship

How the Matrix Helps Us

No matter what kind of Christian ministry we are engaged in the Matrix provides help in the following ways:

  1. It helps us understand visually where people are at in their spiritual pilgrimage
  2. It reminds us that imparting spiritual knowledge alone is not sufficient. We need to pay attention to building relationships, to feelings, sensitivities and attitudes
  3. It helps us better understand the kinds of things we need to be talking about in order to engage their interest and understanding
  4. It provides a tool that helps us evaluate the extent to which our own ministries can be effective in communicating the message (whatever that message may be)

Click here to continue with understanding how the Matrix works

A possible Third Dimension has often been discussed. It has been fun to speculate on what that might be. The popular favourite has been to assign this to the work of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life. It works independently of any human activity influencing both understanding and openness. Another suggestion is that the third axis might be actions. There are no plans to incorporate a third axis as that will add to the complexity of the Matrix and detract from its original intent – but it is still useful to debate!

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