Sunday, 7 August 2016

Community - OIKOS

The Greek word for house or household is 'OIKOS'. It would include the extended family, the gathering of different members together in one place. It was also used in the New Testament for gatherings of Christians - typically meeting in a person's house.

The Acts 2 gatherings, where the first believers started meeting together, records them as breaking bread together in their homes ('oikos'). People like Philemon had a church meeting in his home, and possibly women like Chloe and Stephana too.

From these gatherings those early believers were able to go about their mission, telling others about Jesus. The Christian 'oikos' became the support mechanism for outreach. Functioning like an extended family, they had the benefit of being a mini-community with a variety of gifts and abilities among the members, and a kind of strength in numbers. They would be small enough for each person to know all the others to give good support each other. Yet they would also be big enough to step out in faith in mission initiatives.

In short, they were small enough to care yet big enough to dare. They would do life together and do mission together.

Since extended family gatherings are natural in just about any culture, this concept can replicate around the world and thus be a vehicle for continuing mission in different neighbourhoods and cultures. It just takes the simplicity of young, old and all those in between coming together, with different members pitching in.

At the Countess Free Church there are a number of mission possibilities across the life of the church, as well as the possibilities for individuals in their diverse places of work, school and so on. The current ones are captured in a menu of mission possibilities. The challenge for us is to organise ourselves as a church so that we can support each other in these front line activities. Not every person can be involved in every activity, but perhaps groups can find ways of doing life together combined with supporting each other in mission. Maybe we can learn something from the original concept of 'oikos'.

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