Previous posts in this series:
My contention in this series is that organizing a church as a decentralized network of mid-sized missional communities holds tremendous promise for seeing the good news of Jesus spread in post-Christian contexts.
In this post I’ll continue to look at historical and biblical evidence that indicates that the current movement toward what we call missional communities is really a re-discovering of something very old that God has been using for centuries to renew the church and see the good news of Jesus spread.
Like I said in the last post, the early church gathered in oikos, or “household,” a network of extended-family like relationships that “did life together” rather than just met one day of the week for programmed activities.
You can see this pattern in many of the New Testament letters. In Romans 16, Paul seems to be greeting numerous oikos communities that met throughout the city. Most scholars believe this to be the case in Corinth as well. In one of his letters, Paul tells the Corinthian Christians they need to stop getting drunk at the worship gatherings. Can you imagine this being a problem at your church? The environment was obviously something that made it possible for people to show up before others and drink all the wine and eat all the good food! Much of 1 Corinthians seems to be Paul laying down potluck rules! It was an oikos community that needed some help honoring and loving one another in practical ways (don’t hog all the food when you get together for your worship feasts!).
Of course, none of this is really controversial. But when we start to think about differently we function today as the church, the ramifications start to sink in.
Alex Absalom comments that “it seems that from a Biblical perspective, oikos evangelism is God’s natural method for sharing His supernatural message. It is trans-historical and trans-cultural. It is integrity based evangelism, since it stands or falls on the quality of the relationship, which of course reflects the relational core of the Gospel… they were highly decentralized units, held together by traveling apostles and prophets who were invited to speak into the community on an ongoing basis. Their unity was neither created nor expressed through all meeting in one place at one time…. The New Testament’s instruction and pattern seriously reveals a church that is more appropriately summarized as a household of people on a mission.”
So today’s post is simply a little more wood for the fire! Next time I’ll be looking at why mid-sized communities make sense from a sociological perspective, which is where it gets really interesting! See you there.
Next post –> Sociological Matters