Monday, April 26, 2010

Reaching the “Oikos”

oikos (ancient Greek: οἶκος, plural: οἶκοι) is the Greek equivalent of a household, house, or family.

When I first read the word oikos in the Bible, it was in the passage of the Phillipian jailor and his family believing in Jesus and being saved and baptized (Acts 16:30-34). It is one of many examples of households or families believing together. You may remember the examples of Cornelius and Lydia as well.


Part of my ministry in Brazil is to train church members in evangelism. One of the ways I have done this is by leading workshops in Bible Storying and Oikos Evangelism.  I thought it a rather clever name… Oikos Evangelism.


Unfortunately a quick google search showed me that Oikos has become another buzzword in the vein of: Missional, Emergent, Catalyst, Paradigm, Worldview, Metanarrative, Organic, Purpose Driven, and Praxis. So, my apologies in advance for using it.


I do intend to use Oikos as a label in the blog’s sidebar for post about reaching families rather than just individuals. Since I am short for time, the first practical post will have to come later.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Praying for others as outreach

The top 100 church planters worldwide were interviewed and studied to find what was common in what they were doing, in the hopes that a new method or process might be discovered. After it was all said and done, the only common denominator was prayer. Three hours a day of prayer was the minimum… 21 hours a week in prayer. Most of these church-planting giants also work full time secular jobs at 40 to 60 hours a week. (My source for most of the information in this post is David Watson, but I can only point you to his website, not to the related research. I heard some of this on a recording.)


Most parents who model prayer for their children do so at meal time and and bed time. Those prayers are usually two-minute prayers. Our churches model prayers in worship, and those are usually two-minute prayers as well. Sometimes an inspired pastor or deacon will pray for a long five minutes. Sadly, for many people two and five minutes is the extent of their daily prayer lives. 


Praying for 15 minutes,  an hour, or two hours can seem like an impossible feat. However if you were to write down on a piece of paper the names of everyone you know, you’re not going to pray for them all in 10 minutes.


Try something like this with your church and your prayer groups for a month:

1. When you meet together. Pass out some lined paper and pens to all who are present.

2. Have everyone begin writing down the names of everyone they know personally. This should take a long while and the list should be very long.

3. Ask everyone to go back and put a cross (†) next to the name of everyone they know is a follower of Jesus.

4. Have them put a minus sign (-) next to every name of someone who is not a Christ follower.

5. Have them put a question mark (?) next to the name of anyone that they are not sure about their faith.

6. You may also want to mark on the other side of the name with a check (√) if you know for sure that they know that you are a Christian and know about your relationship with Jesus.

If someone has a list of mostly crosses, they are probably not building relationships outside of their Christian social groups and church. People who have mostly minus signs, are often new Christians or first generation Christians. (People in this group make the best evangelists.) If someone has mostly question marks, that person is probably not engaging their acquaintances and friends on a spiritual level.


Pray for your fellow Christians in their walk and as you remember them in prayer, consider how you can stimulate them to a closer walk with Jesus and to good works. Consider how you can meet their needs and love them. Consider what it means to be living as brothers and sisters in Christ with those people, even though they may not be members of your church or denomination. Do you pray with your neighbors and friends who are Christian, but not part of your church body?


Pray for those that you know are not Christian. Pray specifically for God to break down those barriers to faith in their lives. As you pray for them, consider how you in both word and deed can disciple these friends and acquaintances of yours to faith in Christ. Consider needs they may have and how you can help them in those areas.


Pray for those that you have ignored spiritually. As you pray for them, seek to know them better so that you can change the question mark to a plus or minus. Pray for opportunities and make commitments with God and your prayer partners to engage those question marked friends and acquaintances. Go beyond the superficial and begin talking about the place of God in your lives.


Ask forgiveness of God for the friendships and acquaintances in which you have been spiritually ambiguous. Make a commitment with God and with your prayer partners to right that wrong. Remember that our love for God is a part of our identity. (Deuteronomy 6:5-9)


Now, all this is more than a plan of involvement disguised as prayer. Prayer makes a spiritual difference in people’s lives. God’s Spirit moves as we ask for this in Jesus name. Consider an experiment that was tried in Phoenix, AZ, as documented in the book, The Praying Church Idea Book by Douglas A. Kamstra. 

The church randomly selected 160 names from the phone book and divided then into two groups.  For 90 days they prayed for one group while they ignored the other.  At the end of 90 days they called all 160 homes, identified themselves and offered to stop by and pray for the family and any needs they might have. Of the 80 homes that were not prayed for, only one person invited them in.  From the 80 homes that were prayed for, 69 people invited them to come over and of those people, 45 invited them into their homes.  Felicity Dale

Friday, April 9, 2010


I used to cringe every time we met together for Tuesday night visitation and the minister in charge would say “Here are your prospects,” as he handed me a small stack of yellow cards. With one simple word, families became targets and people became profiles.


We would visit the families, tell them we cared about them, invite them to our church services and leave them a package of information. The ones who replied positively and came to our services became good acquaintances and even friends. The ones who didn’t show up at our church after a few weeks passed were no longer good prospects, and we forgot about them.

Jeff McQ recently posted on this very topic. His post is called Agenda Free Evangelism. Here is an excerpt.

Have you ever had a friend that got involved in multi-level marketing  and after awhile every time you talked to that person, you felt like they saw you as a marketing prospect? If not controlled, it can affect the very fabric of the relationship, because you feel like that friend has an ulterior motive--an agenda for being friends with you. And if that person really gets sold on their product and scheme, if you don't bite after awhile, you stop hearing from that person. You aren't seen as a productive prospect anymore.

MLM is a good analogy for how I've come to see our current methods of evangelism in the church. We're supposed to befriend people in the world and try to bring them to Christ. We see these "friends" as prospective Christians, and we're going to use the avenue of friendship to convince them of the reality of the gospel, get them to come to our church, or what-have-you. It's an agenda-based relationship, and just like you can spot an MLM friend a mile away, people can spot Christians the same way. Most people aren't idiots; they know when they're being targeted, and they notice when we disengage because they didn't jump through the hoops within a certain amount of time.

Jesus called people to follow him. He instructed his disciple to go and live temporarily in the homes of those who would be reached. There is something about the fellowship, friendship and union that allows people to experience God and his love and believe. I think that is what John communicates in the opening of First John.

We are writing to you with respect to the Word of Life, the one who existed from the beginning. We heard him and we saw him with our own eyes. In fact our hands touched him. This Life appeared to us, we saw him and we are witnesses. That is why we declare that the Eternal Life that was with the Father and revealed to us. We announce to you what we have seen and heard so that you will be united with us, just as we are united with the Father and with Jesus Christ his Son. 1 John 1:1-3

So, I agree with Jeff. If there is anything superficial about our care our fellowship with others… it is NOT the gospel.


My prayer: Father forgive me for when I did not act in love, but only pretended to love. Help me follow the example of Jesus, living out love and speaking truth with integrity. Help me to learn from the mistakes I made when I tried to market the Gospel.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Baptism in modern thought

This is not a theological post. I asked the question: “Have you ever been baptized?” on a message board that I frequent. Here are some of the responses:

   Yes, in the time I thought it was an important step for me, identifying myself first and foremost as a Christian and taking a step in faith...unfortunately within 10 years I had lost my faith and am no longer a believer. I still respect those who are - at least the ones who live a life of love rather than judge others - but Christianity is no longer my bag baby....sorry, I guess that's not what you wanted to hear...
   I was baptized in 2003. The baptism itself didn't change my life, but giving my life over to my Lord and savior Jesus Christ in 2002 did. I'm a VERY different person now. Not perfect, but different. What man cannot do, God can do.
   I was baptized when I was 15, but stopped being a believer about a year later
   I got baptized as an infant. You know, every year in church those vows are renewed. It's either Holy Saturday or Pentecost, I can't remember which.
I got baptized "in the Spirit" one time when I was about ten years old, but it didn't take. I never spoke in tongues until much later. The only "baptism" that "took" was the one that I experienced in mid-life (about five years ago) when I was bathed in my own sweat and tears. Very real, and much better than holy water.
   I was baptized when I was 12 years old, the Preacher from our church came to visit our house one day and sat down and talked to me and my brother. He asked us if we believed that Jesus Christ was the Son of God and if we felt He was our personal Savior, we both answered yes. We were both baptized at church the following sunday. I can't say that there was a major change in my life and I have not led a perfect life, but I have tried to keep His teachings in my heart.
   In my experiences the majority of those who become baptized and accept Christ into their lives have really had some screwed up pasts. Drugs addicts, alcoholics, and criminals more specifically. It seems it takes near death experiences to learn to follow the good path. Then again, maybe they were the only ones who stood out?Don't get me wrong, I do drink every now and again, but I don't do drugs, nor do I steal, cheat, etc. Why should I get baptized again? I am faithful to my wife, I help my fellow man, and accept Christ as my savior. I guess I don't truly understand some things the church's do.
   I was baptized in Jesus name about 8 months ago and my life has changed for the better.
   I was baptized in a Baptist church as a kid, 9 YO or so. I think my Sunday school teacher felt it was her duty to get all the kids in her charge baptized before sending them on to the next age/grade level. What I remember the most is the interview with some assistant minister and the color wheel test to see if I was really "ready to accept Jesus Christ as blah, blah, blah ..." The conversation went something like this:

Minister: Tell me, what does the color red mean to you?
me: it means ‘Stop.’

Minister: Yes, it can mean to stop, but when I look at red I think of the blood of Jesus and how his blood washed our sins away.
me: Gross!

Minister: How about white? What does white make you think of?
me: Knee socks. We have to wear white knee socks for gym and they won't stay up, but the boys get to wear the short ones with stripes. That's not fair, is it?

Minister: Doesn't white also remind you of The Light? Jesus is the light, and has shown us the way to salvation.
me: Okay.

Minister: How about black. What does black ...
me: Batman!

Minister: To me, black represents darkness, evil. When I see black, I think of those poor souls lost to the devil.
me: Oh. Do you ever watch Batman?

Minister: What about green?. What is green to you.
me: Money.

We went through the entire color wheel, and none of my answers matched his. Despite my responses, I was deemed ready to baptize.
   I was saved around the age of 10 and then baptized. Today, I am a deacon in a Baptist church on the Northshore. Am I perfect? No, far from it. But no one is. I suggest you seek out a bible-believing church and become active.
   I was baptized when I was really young. I guess I was 7 or so. I don't really remember much about it. My father is a baptist preacher, so it was part of the drill I guess. I go to church about once every five years or so, I should go more for my dad, but I just really hate it. I think baptism is just like a lot of religious experiences, its simple emotion being called spiritual enlightenment. I started realizing that it was all a big con when I was in high school. People would be crying and feeling all spiritual and recommitting themselves to Jesus and I was wondering what was wrong with these people. I often wondered what it would be like if they put just a tiny bit of LSD in the grape juice for the Lord's Supper, and then started with all the call of the holy spirit con. Everyone would find Jesus that day.
   I was Baptized when I was in my 40's at the same time as my three children (non-infant). It was one of the most memorable days of my life.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Do you really think that’s going to work?

There is something discouraging about churches talking about winning the world for Christ, or reaching their communities for Jesus, when their primary strategy for doing this is having special meetings and inviting people to come hear the speaker.

When it is “successful” they proudly announce “God is doing big things here. We had 2 people come to know Christ in our revival services, and there were 3 rededications.”

Sporadic salvations in bi-annual revival services are just not going to get the job done.

Churches, please do better than this.
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