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The Oikos - Part Two

By Mickey Keith on February 21, 20110 Comments
Re-Evaluating Discipleship

A typical model for local church ministry reflects two distinct classifications of Christians: the mature and the immature. The New Testament describes the goal of the Christian experience as becoming "mature," but it also reminds us that we will never actually reach this ideal this side of eternity.

Certainly, some church leadership positions should not be available to a Christian novice; on the other hand, I'm not sure that developing fully devoted followers of Christ is even possible in this life.

A church's determination to relationally separate new believers from their pagan pasts and re-inculturate them into our "fellowships" can actually sabotage its ministry by short-circuiting the organic process of world-change.

The traditional paradigm for discipleship requires time, fellowship, and formal discipleship training to prepare Christians to begin their active role in evangelism. But after the required regimen is completed (usually lasting months, if not years) these now "mature" believers find they have not only wasted their best season of oikos potential, but often they find themselves disconnected from the group they would have most likely reached.

Dr. Walt White, a missiologist in Asia writes:
"Many of us feel that we have failed to take the principle of the oikos seriously. We have somehow applied a different process for evangelism and the establishment of the Church among tribal societies than we have among those from the major historic religions. Our individualistic Western thinking led us to a style of evangelism termed ‘extractionist.' That is, it disregarded the inquirer's oikos and even viewed it as a barrier rather than a gift from God! So we ripped a new believer from their oikos, often doing so even before the person had come to faith in Jesus, or certainly before they had the opportunity to come to any degree of maturity. Then we wondered why they were unable to reach their own oikos with the Good News. One obvious reason was that it sounded like horrible news to the believer's birth oikos, not good news. So we then had to provide him/her with a new oikos, almost always made up entirely of people who were already Christians. If there were non-Christians in their new oikos, those non-Christians had to ask themselves why they should trust this new believer when their birth oikos does not! And we wondered why it seemed they could reach almost no one, no matter how profound their salvation experience."

Many church leaders may ask, "What about discipleship?" Remember, the purpose of the Church- to change the world- is the reason that we engage a process of discipleship in the first place.

Actually, most churches wishing to adopt an oikos focus would not need to change many of the elements of their present efforts in discipleship; they would simply need to re-address its purpose: The eternal salvation of the lost.

Simply stated, Life Community Church and every other life giving, Bible teaching church exists so that people far from God will be filled with life in Christ.

As communities of world-changers, we also exist to prepare believers to change their ‘oikos’ for Christ:

• To encourage every believer to identify their evangelistic niche (their oikos)
• To motivate every believer to intentionally engage that relational "world"
• To prepare every believer to both defend and demonstrate their faith in Christ.

God has given us official (legal) influence among a specific small group of people--
Col. 1:25”I have become Christ's servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness."
The word commission (stewardship) is the Greek word oikonomia = oikos (house) + nomos (law)!

His mission must become our mission--A Great Co-Mission!

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