by Joel Comiskey
I’m writing from Puerto Rico, having been invited by “The Church of the New Testament Vega Baja” to do a cell seminar. I feel like they have taught me more than I have taught them. Pastor Emilio started his church in a home five years ago. God showed him the power of home cell group evangelism. In five years the chruch has grown to 24 cells and 275 people. As I interviewed the leaders and supervisors, almost all of them were divorced, using drugs, or caught in a Satanic web. Someone in the cell befriended them, ministered to them and eventually led them to Jesus. “Cell life” is second nature to them because thy were born again speaking the “cell language.”
For many of these converts, their oikos played a signicant role in bringing them to Jesus. What is an oikos? Ralph Neighbour has helped the church to understand the meaning of oikos. He writes:
The word [oikos] is found repeatedly in the New Testament, and is usually translated ‘household.’ However, it doesn’t just refer to family members. Everyone of us have a ‘primary group’ of friends who relate directly to us through family, work, recreation, hobbies, and neighbors. â€¦ Newcomers feel very much ‘outside’ when they visit your group for the first time, unless they have established an oikos connection with one of them. If they are not ‘kinned’ by the members, they will not stay very long or try very hard to be included before they return to their old friends (Shepherd’s Guidebook, p. 61)
Cells penetrate society through the members’ friends, family, and loved ones. It’s essential to find these web relationships at work, home, and recreational activities. On a practical level, those who know us will accept an invitation to attend a cell meeting more readily than strangers.
If you are a cell leader reading this blog, encourage your cell members to love, pray for and invite friends, relatives, coworkers, classmates and neighbors. David Yonggi Cho writes: “I have found the only definite way to increase church membership is through personal contact, and personal soul winning. If you know the person, it is better. Since you are personally touching your neighbors, through the cell system, it is far easier to win them to the church.” (Church Growth Manual, 7, p. 19)
An effective way to open hearts and attract oikos is through social meetings. Cookouts, sports events, retreats in a mountain cabin, or eating events are non-threatening, non-church environments where non-believers are comfortable.
I knew one cell leader who gathered his group at a ranch house on major holidays, or for a sporting event during the week. Cell members invited friends and family to these fun times, and many eventually joined the cell group. To maintain the intimacy in the group and to continue reaching out, this cell gave birth to another cell, and the multiplication process continued.
Have you found oikos evangelism effective? Share your story.