Layers of Christian Community: Mondo
God’s sights for Jesus’ mission was not merely set on religious renewal among the Jews, starting the Church, or even creating a new religion for all peoples.Â God’s sights were and still are set on world transformation – on creating a new heaven and new earth!Â The game plan since the beginning, since the Garden, has always been about up-ending the brokenness of this world and cultivating a new heaven and new earth right here in our neighborhood.Â That’s why Jesus came as a human, to introduce a new kind of human, a new kind of world – what he called “The Kingdom of God.”
This world transformation is the central mission of God, meaning that “the church” is not God’s only project on earth.Â God’s glory fills the WHOLE earth (Hab 2:14)Â Unfortunately, too often “church growth” and even “church planting” is the ultimate goal of many Christians today.Â But the true purpose of the Church must be the same goal as Jesus’ mission - showing the world the Kingdom of God is near! (Mark 1:15)Â This Kingdom of God is our world-transformed.Â And our proclaiming that brand-new-in-every-way world is the WHOLE GOSPEL.
Unfortunately, the Church is better at proclaiming a part of the Gospel (“saving souls for heaven” or merely “doing good works for earth”).Â In addition, the church as a whole often is many times so distrusting of itself and so disorganized that it rarely makes any real strategic attempt at accomplishing its goal – to display the WHOLE GOSPEL before the world.
The church in many places is about as unified as a box of toothpicks dumped out onto a table. But with a little intentionality, those toothpicks can begin to spread out over the table like spokes on a wheel.Â The same is true for the church – we must work together to see a saturation of Jesus Christ presented before every tongue, tribe and nation; not uniting under one denomination, doctrine, or project, but under one mission:
…getting the WHOLE CHURCH to give the WHOLE GOSPEL to the WHOLE WORLD!
So what is the Mondo Layer?Â It is the “Church Universal” as many have called it before.Â Throughout all time and space, there is only one Body, one Faith, and one Lord over all of us. (Eph 4:1-4) Its the common bond we can feel with St. Francis of Assisi or Martin Luther King Jr. or a Christian from the other side of the world.
The Mondo Layer gives us access to the same Holy Spirit that inspired the Church Fathers and Mothers to write the classics that are with us to this day.Â The Syriac Fathers to Margery Kempe, Celtic Spirituality to the Anabaptists… they offer us multiple streams of living water and each display for us a piece of the Kingdom that would otherwise be lost to us today.Â Many Christians are anemic – even though they live deeply into the Mono, Micro, Meso and Macro Layers, simply because they do not access the Mondo Layer – the Church Universal, where the Holy Spirit is waiting to bring unity and family to us through time and space.
There are three measures for unity in the Universal Church (not just anyone can be a part of God’s called-out people), theological (doctrine, right belief), functional (producing fruit that resembles Christ’s life), and relational unity (we are only unified when we practice unity!).Â But truthfully, there is something even more important in discovering Christian unity.Â What Barton Stone called “Fire Unity” – which is the union of God’s Spirit to humanity.Â In Stone’s words,
“How vain are all human attempts to unite a bundle of twigs together, so as to make them grow together and bear fruit! They must first be united with the living stock, and receive its sap and spirit, before they can ever be united with each other. So must we be first united with Christ, and receive his spirit [sic], before we can ever be in spirit united with one another. The members of the body cannot live unless by union with the headâ€”nor can the members of the church be united, unless first united with Christ, the living head. His spirit is the bond of union. Men have devised many plans to unite Christians – all are vain. There is but one effectual plan, which is, that all be united with Christ and walk in him.”
Mondo Lived Out
The Church Universal is a great feel-good concept- that we are all one in Christ.Â The problem is, you cannot work toward unity with the Pope, because you’ll (likely) never meet him.Â You can only express unity with Christians in your actual life - where you actually have some practical say over whether or not you live in unity with your brothers and sisters so vastly different from you.Â So, maybe you’ll never meet the Pope, but what about the church on other side of town?Â What about the mega-church down the street, or the black church downtown?Â The truth is – the functional portion of the Mondo Layer is seen in the city-church.
“In the NT, there are three fundamental dimensions of the church: the believers who frequently gather as a house church; the believers that periodically gather as a local (city) church; and the entire community of believers in Christ who do not have an opportunity to meet but of which each believer is a part.” — Rex Koivisto
This is bigger than any one congregation or church network (also called the Macro Layer).Â It is the entire Christ-centered community in a given city or area. It is the City-Church you hear about it Acts 14:23, Titus 1:5, and the seven churches in Revelation.Â There is no “North Side Ephesian Church” or “1st Church of Philippi.”Â Paul either addressed “the church that meets in Lydia’s house” (the Meso Layer) or “to the church in Ephesus,” (the Mondo Layer).Â This was how Paul understood God’s people – not divided, but united – each house church living out the Kingdom life locally, and all the Christians living in a certain city or region working together to display the Kingdom to their own local Empire.
How does this get lived out today?Â How does the churches-in-the-city become one city church?Â Well, to start, it is more organic than organizational.Â Built around the love-centered relationship of the Trinity, it overcomes ethnic, denominational, ecclesiastical and socioeconomic prejudice.Â Second, a shift must take place in the hearts of churches and church leaders in particular.Â So many churches today are territorial, and short-sighted on seeing their own church succeed.Â We must begin to see ourselves as one network of God’s people.
So, we don’t all meet downtown at the civic center as one church – we remain lots of congregations and organic church networks all doing lots of ministries and mission efforts …but we are one Church with one goal for our city – to see it transformed into God’s vision for his world!
Living out the Mondo Layer means the church working together as a “network of networks.”Â It means fighting the apathy, rugged individualism and frankly ignorance that turn the mission work of God into a box of toothpicks randomly dumped onto the table.
Living into the Mondo Layer means living into the strategy of Christ – the Great Commandment (love) and the Great Commission (love sent).Â The result is “saturation church planting.”Â Churches across the city must find unity in the goal of city-wide transformation through the process of seeing a vibrant family of Jesus in close reach of every single person in their city.Â This is a comprehensive look at the city, and doing everything in their power (nothing more, nothing less) to offer the Gospel for every people, and a spiritual family for every person.Â Only 30-40% of our city will/can be reached by traditional churches, which is why we must invest (spiritually, financially) into emerging, organic, and neo-monastic expressions of Christ’s church.
Leaders with this vision might be called “Missional Resource Teams,”Â listening to God and living out the life of God for a particular area with the core conviction that “mission flows from listening.”Â Spiritual mapping aides in the process of saturation church planting (Pray4Chicago is an example of such a project), as does praying for workers through a Luke 10:2 prayer.
Its possible that each year, major city-wide celebrations and worship festivals can begin to breakout.Â Leadership conferences, mission efforts, andÂ other gatherings emerge, as families grow in Christ and peace reigns on earth.Â These and other pictures of heaven CAN happen this side of eternity, if we have eyes to see it and the heart to live it out in our lives.
Mono, Micro, Meso, Macro, and Mondo.Â They are all wrapped up together like an onion, or a sea shell.Â You cannot live in one and not the others if you want to be healthy.Â They are a part of God’s life for us here on earth – the expression of his church at work in the world.
Living into these layers, we can begin to know ourselves better, experience love and trust from others, belong to a meaningful family, and engage in significant mission.Â But it all spirals out from a life of intimacy with a loving God, who is at the center of it all.