Oikos is the Greek word used in the New Testament which we usually translate “House” or “home.”
“So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, (Acts 2:46 NKJV)”
3DM encourages the churches they are in relationship with to have great expressions of both Temple (worship celebrations) and Oikos (Home or Extended Family Sized Discipleship).
Oikos also means “family.” So the Greek term Oikos holds within it the understanding of an “extended family” (including servants and other employees) who all live in the same household. In the New Testament, the letters Paul wrote to the “churches” were mostly in Oikos. That is, they were in large homes that could accommodate 50 to 70 people gathering together to do the things churches were doing. This is a bit hard for us to conceptualize in our North American context where independence is idealized and one of our highest goals in life is to see how much square footage we can acquire for the fewest amount of people possible. (hyperbole? maybe)
I have found that many people who interact with 3DM and their content get confused about Oikos. Is Oikos the same thing as a Missional Community? (I don’t think so…) 3DM has a unique vocabulary and much of their vocabulary is tied to the Vehicles they recommend people use to do discipleship and mission. For example: Huddles, Missional Community, etc. There is a lot of language to learn. I liken the beginning stage of the process for people as learning a second language. Learning the language is very important and it eventually starts shaping your culture. The language of LifeShapes becomes tied to the transformational journey people go on. The LifeShapes represent biblical concepts or biblical themes or passages and as people experience the transformation the bible talks about while using the LifeShapes as reference points to the transformation, the language becomes a set of anchor points for people to use as leverage in their journey. Such things as kairos Moments, getting around the Learning Circle, Working from Rest, Rhythm of Life, Abiding, Bearing Fruit, and more – all these things become part of the language people use to express the things they are going through. It’s really great stuff, because it is the stuff of following Jesus. But, it takes a good while for people to start speaking the language fluently. Oikos is one of the words that gets thrown around that, quite frankly, has to be experienced over and over and over before you can begin to understand what it really means.
As the transformational environment centered around this new language is created in huddle – a culture of discipleship develops. People find their identity beginning to be rooted in the love of the Father, as children of God (the triangle). They are navigating the Learning Circle and living in continuous breakthrough (the circle). They have journeyed around (the Square), from D1 to D2 and they are in D3 or maybe even D4. Maybe they have even started their own huddle. They are living a new rhythm of life (the semi-circle). One marked by true rest. They work from that rest. They have new life. They are healthy (the heptagon). They are giving people access to their new life (the octagon). They are living in accountability. It’s incredible. It’s starting to look like Acts 2:46, believe it or not. Pretty soon, the people who are really really getting it and wanting more and more of it, start living life together. They start spending more and more time together. They show up at one another’s homes for dinner. They baby sit for one another so they can go on dates. They shop for one another. They hang out. They pray for one another. And, before you know it, this isn’t a discipleship program, it’s family. It’s extended family. It’s OIKOS. And, it’s hot. There is a heat to it. It’s attractive. People see what you are doing and want to do it too. People literally start asking to be a part of it, before you can invite them.
As Emily and I have entered into this process, we realized we didn’t really know what we were doing. But, we were willing. We wanted to give people access to our lives. We stumbled and bumbled. We just kept opening ourselves up. We offered covenant relationship to people. They would poke and prod at that offer of relationship. People have taken advantage of that offer at different levels along a spectrum. Some people come over and hang out with us and want to process life with us all the time. Some want to be in huddle and that’s it. Some people have checked out (that has been hard). Some are somewhere in the middle of all those places. We have to remind ourselves that we are just getting started!
What we are seeing, slowly (evolution, not revolution) develop, is Oikos.
Oikos is a culture.
It is the heat in the middle of the discipleship culture you are trying to develop in your church.
It is the combustion in the engine.
It is the thing that makes everything go.
When you start to feel momentum from all the turns on the flywheel, it is because you are seeing Oikos develop around you. People are coming close, wanting access, and experiencing transformation from the family dynamic in the discipleship culture you are creating.
The “thing” in the middle of all that, is Oikos. It is what Peter and James and John had with Jesus. It is what the 12 had. It is what Mary had when she refused to get up and go help Martha!
One thing that has been the most helpful for Emily and I, considering we have no idea what we are doing in regard to all this, is IMITATION. We have tried to expose ourselves to as many people as we can who are doing this stuff. Mostly 3DM staff and extended family, but others also. Emily has been in a coaching huddle with Deb Sternke since February of 2012 and we have been able to imitate from what Ben and Deb are up to in Fort Wayne. I have been in coaching since January of 2012 – first with Ben Sternke and then with Rob Shoaff and now with Mark Herringshaw (long story). I have been to Pawley’s Island several times now and have gotten around 3DM folks as many times as I possibly can. When 3DM is around here in Cincy, or I am around them anywhere, I try to sneak in to as much of what they are doing behind the scenes as possible to see how Mike and Sally Breen do Oikos. When in Pawley’s Island, you immediately get the feel for what this all “feel’s” like. We read the Moravian Texts daily with 3DM and listen to the Daily Devotions. When in South Carolina for vacation this summer, we went to the 3DM offices to experience the Daily Devotion in person. We just try to participate and be a part of it. We imitate the experts.
We are trying to work out now, how we create some of those same Rhythms into our life here in Mason… Oikos happens INTENTIONALLY!!!