How does oikos relate to small group ministry?

By Joel Comiskey, Groups that Thrive

What does the word oikos have to do with small group ministry today? The Greek word oikos means house. Yet, in New Testament times, the meaning extended to “household” or “family.” For example, in Acts 16:15, Lydia is said to have been baptized with her entire household (oikos). 

Ralph Neighbour, the guru of small group ministry, has emphasized and promoted oikos since 1990 through his classic book Where Do We Go from Here. Neighbour skillfully applied oikos to evangelizing relatives and close friends that God has placed around us. 

During last month’s JCG blogs, we’ve been talking about meeting needs through outreach. We are disciples of Jesus, and we must exercise our spiritual muscles to feed the poor, minister to the homeless, demonstrate acts of kindness, and grow as Christ’s disciples. Yet, typically, those who will come to our small groups are those we already know—our oikos. 

Rarely will someone off the street show up at the cell group. Yes, we still need to reach out to the homeless, poor, hungry, and so forth because Jesus commands us to do so (Matthew 25:34-40; Luke 12:33). Yet, God has placed people around us who we know, love, and who know us (oikos). Many studies have shown that friends and family greatly influence those who come to Christ. 

Prayer is the first place to start when attempting to reach your oikos. The Blessing List is a tried and true way to pray and bless oikos. Each cell member picks two oikos, and then the entire group prays for those oikos to bless them and eventually invite them to the cell. What other oikos principles are essential?

We’ll spend the whole month of April writing about oikos and small group ministry. Please click here if you’d like to receive these daily blogs in your email inbox. We’ll cover the following:  

  • April 02-08: The Biblical base for oikos. What does the Bible say about oikos?  
  • April 09-15: The blessing list. Starting with prayer is the most effective strategy for reaching our oikos. We’ll show you how to do this.  
  • April 16-22: We’ll discuss developing deeper relationships with our oikos while praying for them. 
  • April 23 to 29: We’ll discuss strategies to share the gospel with our oikos and invite them to the cell group or celebration services. 
  • April 30 to May 06: Testimonies of reaching out to our oikos for Jesus.