One forgotten key for spreading the Good News

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Today I want to give you a key to successfully spreading the gospel.

“Oikos…It’s God’s Key to the natural and rapid spread of the Good News”!
Tom Wolf.
 
The oikos is one of the keys in evangelism in every local church - it’s a key for the newly planted church. Why?  Because the new church is small and people know full well what they can’t do because of limited resources.  A new church will be able to use this straight away.
 
Oikos is the Greek word for a household - a house of people.

“Believe in the Lord Jesus and you shall be saved, you and your Household”[1]

Mission Professor Dr Tom Wolf says an oikos is, “a social system composed of those related to each other through common ties and tasks.  It is God’s key to the natural and rapid spread of the Good News.”
 
Did you know that the average person has 20-30 people in his or her sphere of influence, with a number of these being non-believers.
 
Oikos and the Old Testament
The Old Testament pictures the household as including several generations in a family - usually four generations including men, married women, unmarried daughters, slaves, persons without citizenship, and sojourners or resident foreign workers.
 
In Genesis 12:3. “All families of the earth shall be blessed.”[2]
 
Oikos and the New Testament
God continues to focus on households, i.e. friends, extended family, relatives, those with common interest and the same work environment.
 
In Mark 5:19 Jesus told the man he delivered of demons; “Go home to your friends (oikos) and tell them what a wonderful thing God has done for you; and how merciful he has been.”
 
After Zacchaeus was converted Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house (oikos).” (Luke 19:9).  Other scriptures. John 4:53, John 1:41, John 1:44
 
In Luke 10 we see that Jesus appointed seventy to go in pairs ahead of him into every city and place where he himself was intending to visit.  Included in the instructions Jesus (v5) tells them “Whatever house (oikos) you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house’ (oikos).”
 
Verse 6 says that, “if a man of peace is there (in that household/oikos), your peace will rest on him.”  In other words, look for the person who is receptive to the Gospel in your oikos, your household; which includes your friends, extended family, relatives, those with the same interest, and those in the same work environment.  Ralf Neighbour, a Baptist Pastor from America, defines your oikos as being, “Those you spend at least one hour every three weeks with, most people have 20 to 30 people in their oikos.”[3]
 
Today write down your oikos group.
In that oikos find out the ones who are receptive to the Gospel; there should be at least two.
 
Research conducted by the Institute of American Church Growth of Pasadena, California, in 1980 on why people have come to Christ and the church provides tremendous support on the effectiveness of the oikos concept at work today.  Over 20,000 people have been asked the question, “What or who was responsible for your coming to Christ and your church?”  I have done this many times in meetings and the percentages confirm what you see below.
 
Following are the percentages:
1-2%    Special need   
0.5%    Evangelistic crusade
2-3%    Walk in           
2-3%    Church programme
5-6%    Pastor             
4-5%    Sunday school 
1-2%    Visitation       
75-90%   Friends or relatives
 
The facts are, most people who come to Christ become Christians because of a relationship with friends or family; oikos.
 
I agree with Wolf’s words from earlier: Oikos is God’s key to the natural and rapid spread of the Good News. It is still is a powerful key today.

 
[1] Acts 16:31
[2] Also Deut 12:7; 14:26; Joshua 7:14
[3] I heard this from Ralph Neighbour during a lecture he gave to the Baptist Union in Auckland, NZ, in the early 1980’s.
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