Oikos Summer Reflections – Where’s the adventure?

This is the 5th and final post in a series looking at the key principles of Oikos – our New Testament model for extended families on a mission together. You can start reading from the beginning of the series here

“The most vigorous forms of community are those that come together in the context of shared ordeal or those who define themselves as a group with a mission that lies beyond themselves – thus initiating a risky journey.”

The Forgotten Ways

Alan Hirsch

Something we often forget about ancient households is that they were not only a place of belonging, but also activity and fruitfulness. Alongside relationship, family members would be expected to participate in the common mission of the Oikos; be that business, farming, politics, skilled labour, or whatever. Children would be raised and apprenticed in this environment and would be expected to participate too.  All of this meant that everyone knew and understood the purpose/mission of their Oikos. More than that, they lived it out every day.

This is exactly the experience of the disciples in Jesus’ Oikos. As they grew in relationship, they also understood the common mission that they had been invited into. After all, Jesus said to them at the start;

“Come follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Mark 1:17). This is an invitation to relationship, but also a call to adventure together.

Jesus continually led in a way that invited people into greater levels of both relationship and adventure. This is a pattern that is important for us to copy, because it both builds community and gives us a purpose beyond ourselves.

But we mustn’t fall into the trap of thinking that adventure is just a personal thing. The key is that it is SHARED. As we talked about last week, it is important to steer away from the “lone-ranger” mentality of mission – this is never sustainable!

Consider the quote above from Alan Hirsch, a missiologist from North America: Vibrant forms of community grow through coming together and getting behind a common mission or vision. This is precisely the value that we look to grow in Oikos.

So how could you create a shared adventure?

Well, in our experience, partnering in mission involves a good amount of proactivity! Here are 3 quick practical ways to start doing this:

1. Sharing People of Peace (People of Peace are those who, as a result of your missional vision, you have begun to connect with and are open to Jesus). If members of your Oikos have relationships with People of Peace they are discipling, encourage them to invite others into this, so that the relationships are shared within the Oikos and people are discipled by a community.

2. Serve others as they step out in mission. For example, something as simple as looking after someone’s children while they go to have dinner with people they are discipling could be a helpful way of partnering in mission together.

3. Think about what resources could be shared to enable mission to take place. Does someone need practical or financial support to step out in part of the mission of your Oikos? How could you practically get behind others?

As we have said before, it’s about knowing the change that you want to see and looking for the next steps you can take together on the journey.

So, consider your Oikos:

As relationships grow, are you inviting people on an adventure?

Do people know what the adventure is?

What steps could people take in order to share this adventure together?

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11 replies »

  1. I don’t see how evangelism works in this context. We go out and help people building relationships; but how does a missional community (oikos) focus on being ‘fishers of men’ with these persons of peace?

  2. George, if I understand the question correctly, you are asking how you as a community actually share the gospel with People of Peace you are building relationship with? Is that right?

    If so, there are a few ways of doing this:

    Personal evangelism – we will often have the opportunity to share the gospel through conversations and actions within our personal relationship with a Person of Peace. This is something that we can invite others to hold us accountable about doing.

    Shared relationships – other members of our Oikos will have the opportunity demonstrate the gospel to our People of Peace through building relationship with them, serving them and sharing faith through conversations and letting them see their lives up close.

    Experiencing Oikos – If we invite People of Peace into the life of our Oikos (when we are eating together, having fun, or even going on mission together) they have the opportunity to see faith lived out and hear about it in our conversations and interactions with each other.

    As you build relationship with a Person of Peace, you also get to know when the time is right to offer prayer, share the gospel, invite them to something more formal e.g. Alpha or invite them to an event. However, all of these things are done in the context of living life together. This brings a balance of formal/informal and event/process.

    • I understand. I wonder about the level of intentionality on the part of the MC. Do they examine & discern the spiritual condition of the PoPs and as a group decide on a next step?

      • We would say that the intentionality should be both ways: i.e. the friend(s) of that PofP should be encouraged to involve others in processing a way forward in discipling their PofP, but those in the community should be intentional about supporting the discipleship of somebody’s PofP too and invite discussion around where that PofP is up to and how they can support friends to take the next step. This won’t necessarily mean the whole community, but different people involved with the different PofP they have relationship with.

        We don’t believe, that this is a formulaic, step by step program to walk somebody through. Rather, our experience has shown that it’s a process of discernment that grows through relationship and by inviting others in to decision making. As relationships in the community/oikos grow, this is where accountability grows for discipling PofP. Again, this accountability is an intentional process that provides encouragement/advice/challenge/support for those who are trying to disciple their PofP and discern the way forward.

  3. For us this would depend on whether they are in a general season of sowing reaping or keeping… by this we mean whether they are sowing (starting somewhere/something new, building relationships, and identifying PofP) – reaping (seeing PofP being discipled and coming to faith) – or keeping (discipling new Christians and training them in how to start making disciples themselves).

    For example we have seen one MC that went through a season of reaping and saw over 80 people come to faith in a year – the challenge was then one of discipleship and building communities to support this growth.

    Another community recently has been in a season of sowing and had contacts with over 40 people of peace, but only saw 1 or 2 people come to faith in the last year

    It depends on the community – as we have we have worked with many churches across the country, our experience has been that on average in a community of 25-30 ppl we would expect to see around 3–7 ppl a year come to faith. In terms of instant results, this may not sound very much but if you make disciples who make disciples this has an exponential growth. The strength of a MC is that you have disciples who have made a decision to follow Jesus, and subsequently partner with you in multiplying out the mission of the community.

  4. Bob Hopkins in his Evangelism Strategies suggests identifying the sowing level (S1, S2, S3) of each PoP and planning MC activities that promote advancement. Are you suggesting the same?

  5. Yes – Bob Hopkins is part of the local church here in Sheffield and his methodology has been heavily influenced by his involvement and shared experience with many of the 3dm team. For those looking to study this process in more detail, that is a very helpful resource.

    For further reading on this, we would recommend Bob’s other book – “Clusters” which was written with Mike Breen. We would also recommend “Launching Missional Communities” by Mike Breen and Alex Absalom for you to explore some of these ideas further.

    • Yes, thank you. I have read Mike’s LMC and found the part on expanding a MC very helpful. He seems to recommend identifying PoPs by this sowing metric and planning MC activities accordingly. I think this helps make the evangelistic portion of mission as visible as the outreach portion. Would you agree?

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