The Sunday church gathers; the Monday church gathers and scatters. The Monday church gathers on Sunday for corporate worship and equipping. On Monday she consciously scatters to be the church in the world, to love, serve, and work-worship as her members engage in their vocational calling.
The Sunday church is primarily internally focused on itself and its programs. The Monday church balances an internal focus with an external focus.
As William Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury, famously said, “The church is the only society on earth that exists for the benefit of those who are not its members.” He is describing the Monday church.
We have seen this in the incarnation of Christ: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). This same Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:14). To his disciples he said, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:14).
The Monday Church incarnates Jesus
The early church was a Monday church actively involved in the transformation of society.
The evolutionary sociologist Rodney Stark spent his career answering a profound question: “If there is no God and no miracles, what led to the rise of Christianity?” His book The Rise of Christianity concludes with two answers. First, the Christians had a better set of ideas than the Romans: “Central doctrines of Christianity prompted and sustained attractive, liberating, and effective social relations and organizations.” Second, those doctrines were institutionalized in the society the Christians built: “It was the way these doctrines took on actual flesh, the way they directed organizational actions and individual behavior, that led to the rise of Christianity.”
In short, the Word was made flesh, not only in Jesus Christ but also through the lives of the early Christians. By the incarnation of the word through the church, society was transformed.
Ken Myers of Mars Hill Audio captures the cultural discipleship the church is to pursue.
Discipleship is not engaging with another culture to present a small set of new propositions. Rather, discipleship is a work of alternative enculturation – to present a new way to understand life and the world in which we live, that is, a new way to understand ‘what is real’… And this new way of understanding life is incarnated in alternative cultural forms that are sustained across generations and, when possible, shared with our neighbors.
The Sunday church promotes the spiritual disciplines. These are fundamental and necessary, but they are insufficient to discipling nations. As Meyers says, the Monday church is engaged in discipling at the level of culture. God calls His people to live in the world He has made. That is a process of “alternative enculturation.”
The Monday church engages the world
The Monday church applies the Micah Mandate: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8). The church is truly the church when she is engaging the world.
Lilian Calles-Barger writes in Eve’s Revenge,
We do this [move toward the establishment of the kingdom of God] by living little acts of resistance–everyday acts done in our bodies … Our protest must be based on faith that an invisible kingdom is being made visible in the bodies of the men and women who actively follow the crucified and resurrected one.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, writes of the church as a thermostat.
The church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society.
The Monday church practices what pastor John Piper calls, “persistent public love.” Churches often have home Bible studies. Some churches function with a cell structure. These smaller groups often replicate a larger gathering; they pray, fellowship and study the Bible. These are not bad things, but they are internally focused. Why not turn these groups into externally focused love cells that persistently show the love of Christ in the community? Dr. Bob Moffitt shows practical ways of doing this in what he calls Seed Projects and Disciplines of Love.
In their provocative book The Starfish and the Spider, Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom make the distinction between organizations and organisms. The former are institutions that largely function from a hierarchical structure while the later are organic that function from a common DNA. The diagram helps to illustrate the point.
The Monday Church reflects and acts
The Monday church contributes to a movement, the coming of the kingdom of God, not simply building monuments, larger and larger churches or programs that memorialize a lead pastor’s vision.
Cultures change only by reflection and action; either by itself is insufficient. The Monday church does both. As Stark pointed out, it was the early church’s reflection on the Word of God that led to radical action, creating institutions that manifest the moral and metaphysical truth of Scripture.
The Monday church promotes the vision of the coming of the kingdom of God, a vision larger than any church or denomination can accomplish. Too many Sunday church denominations and megachurches seem to believe “we can do it ourselves.”
The Monday church will join other congregations as “the church in the city,” many denominations and non-denominational churches corporately blessing the city, doing justice and loving mercy. This stands in contrast to the Sunday churches that tend to be independent, doing their own thing and focusing on their denomination. The vision of the kingdom requires a multitude of churches, organizations, networks, gifts, talents and skills working together. The distinctives of a local church or denomination are good unless they become paramount and thus defeat the collaboration of the church in the city.
If you have an interest in finding out more about the Monday Church, see the free online course offered by the Disciple Nations Alliance.
– Darrow Miller