Oikos 101 – 4 Rhythms

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This is the latest post in a series I am writing about this project some of us at 8&H have undertaken called oikos. If you’ve missed them, you can find the previous post here and the first post in the series here.

So far, we’ve taken a lot of time to talk about the biblical framework behind oikos. Essentially, my oikos is a small community within the larger 8&H family committed to fulfilling Jesus’ commission to be and make disciples together. To make that happen, each oikos commits to develop four rhythms within the life of their group.

Shared Life. An essential part of oikos is doing life together. As a matter of fact, this project was started as part of an effort to focus on the “scattered” life of 8&H as much as we do on the “gathered” aspects. We believe our worship gatherings and Bible classes are important, but the power of the kingdom is in living it. So, each oikos commits to sharing the in’s and out’s of life together. Over the last two years, I’ve watched as the oikos I am a part of has become closer and closer. We eat together frequently. We share life’s successes and struggles. We help each other in times of need. We pray for each other. Romans 12 is a guide for us in this kind of life.

Shared Worship. By this, we mean our normal worship gatherings, but we also mean more. We believe worship is a transformative thing. As such, we spend time in prayer and worship and reflection and silence together outside of our normal Sunday gatherings. We work to develop rhythms that honor God in every aspect of our being. If worship is speaking of God’s great acts, one hour a week is never enough. We want to make that a regular part of our life. Oikos is about developing that kind of focused community.

Shared Faith. This is bigger than evangelism and it is also bigger than benevolence. We believe those are two words describing different ways of doing the same thing. Our oikos is committed to sharing our faith – with our words and with our actions – throughout the community in which we live. We often fail at this, but we work hard to be an outwardly focused group, serving as a light in our neighborhoods and our town.

Shared Wisdom. Wisdom is bigger than knowledge. Wisdom is bigger than what we can learn in a classroom. Wisdom is about how you live your life, not just what you know. We spend a lot of time talking about the Bible in oikos, but we’re also committed to living it – and learning from those in our group that can show us what that looks like. This is one of the reasons we emphasize intergenerational groups, where our teens sit next to the little ones, who sit next to the retired couple, who sit next to the newlyweds, who sit next to the single guy.

We do not keep these commitments perfectly, and anyone in my oikos would tell you we’re still figuring a lot of things out. But we are finding life in these rhythms. We are finding Jesus in these rhythms – and we’ve established a context where that Christ-likeness can flourish.

Oikos 101 – 4 Rhythms

An Oikos Kind of Weekend

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This post is an interlude in a larger series of posts I am writing laying out the basics of this thing some of us do at 8&H called oikos. If you’ve missed any of the posts, you can find the previous post here, or the first post here.

Over the last week, I’ve been working to lay out the scriptural foundation for the oikos project at 8&H. Even as I do that, though, life continues in the oikos I belong to and I thought it might be helpful to describe the last few days as a way of saying, “This is what it looks like.” There is more to it, of course – it would be impossible to encapsulate the entirety of what we’re shooting for in oikos within a few days – but this is a pretty good representation.

Tuesday

It’s spring break in the valley, so the kiddos are out of school and the teachers in our oikos are at home. A few of the moms in our community get together and plan an outing for a few of the available kids, deciding they will hit the aquarium in Corpus Christi. There are a lot of moving parts here, but we’re used to that. One of the tweens doesn’t want to go, so one of the teens hosts him for a day of video games, movies, and adventure while everyone else takes off. Out of all the parties involved, my family is the only one with a car big enough to get everyone to Corpus, so my wife takes our car. I borrow my friend’s car, and he drives his wife’s car while she and their son take part in the aquarium trip. (This also means I take two little ones to pre-school on my way to work.) In the afternoon, I pick the little ones up from preschool and the dads eat dinner and catch up while waiting for everyone else to get back from their trip.

Friday

Four men from our oikos spend the morning helping another family in our oikos trim trees. Some provided needed equipment and expertise. Others provided willing hands to cut and carry limbs. I provided entertainment as I dropped a branch on myself and fell off the bottom rung of a ladder. Some of the kids got together and played (read, “got out of the way”) while the adults worked. When the trimming was done, fajitas were grilled!

Saturday

One of the best traditions springing from the oikos is our Saturday night “Open Grill.” Every Saturday night, we fire up the grill (lately, it’s been two grills) and everyone brings something to put on it. We sit under the stars, sharing good food and good discussion.

Anyone who is a part of this tradition is welcome to invite others. Our oikos is a community, and this is one way of asking other people to be a part of that community. Since it’s inception, we have seen so many new faces, and made so many new friends. We look forward to getting to know more people.

Oh, and there is always a ton of food. Some weeks, people can bring something. Other weeks, things may be tight, but we all pitch in and there is always plenty to share. (One of women in our oikos has even started inviting our neighbors as they walk by on their evening stroll. No takers, yet, but it’ll happen!)

Another things about Open Grill and oikos. This is truly a community affair. Let me explain.

For a while now, my wife and I have hosted the grill. The adults sit outside, around the grill, while the kids play inside. We can’t always provide a lot of food, but we have a space, and that is what we give.

A few months back, someone stole our grill. It wasn’t anything special, but it was well-loved and put to frequent use. The next morning, I walk outside and there is a new grill on my porch.

A few weeks back, it became apparent we were going to need more grilling space to continue, and so on a Saturday afternoon, a member of our oikos shows up with a larger grill. When my kids asked, “Why did you buy us a new grill?” we explained the grill was for the community because we are a part of a family – an oikos – and the grill is one of the ways we work to be a blessing in our community.

Last Saturday, a cold front moved through and the temperature dropped like a rock. Two hours before Open Grill was set to kick off, two members of our oikos pull up and drop off a fire pit. Again, this is not my pit. We each play a part in blessing each other. This is how oikos works. It is community.

Sunday

There are a ton of kids in our oikos. Once a month, we’ve started hosting all the kids on a Sunday night. We cook together. We play games together. We play loud music and things can get a little crazy. We also pray together and talk about God, Jesus, and the Bible together. We have a few of our older kids who do a terrific job working with the younger kids too. It is a great privilege to see those bonds being formed.

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This, of course, is all just a taste of what our oikos looks like. At the end of the day, oikos is our commitment to share life together with Jesus at the center. We’re not perfect – not by any stretch – but we are family, and we are determined to follow our Lord into a better way of life.

An Oikos Kind of Weekend

Oikos 101 – Baptizing

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This is the latest in a series of posts exploring a project some of us have been doing at 8&H called oikos. If you’ve missed something, here is the previous post in the series, and here is the first one.

Matthew 28:18-20 sits at the heart of how oikos is organized at 8&H, and for the last few posts, we’ve been unpacking it. You will remember there is only one explicit command in verse 19-20, what we commonly call the Great Commission. The command is to make disciples of every nation. There is an implicit command in this text too, that we be disciples, so we might summarize Jesus’ commission to us this way: we are to be and make disciples. And ultimately, this is what oikos is about. Oikos is about developing a context within which discipleship to Jesus happens in real and meaningful ways.

This is further defined by the three statements Jesus adds to his command in Matthew 28:19-20. This idea of discipleship – both being and making – is fleshed out by the notions of goingbaptizing, and teaching. We’ve already looked at going. We will look at baptizing here, and we will look at teaching in a future post.

Baptism is a rich and complex event, and I suspect Jesus meant for all that depth to be conveyed here. At it’s heart, however, it’s about commitment. Baptism is the moment you give yourself to God and he gives himself to you. So, when we’re talking about the Great Commission, baptism is an important part of discipleship, but we also might summarize it this way:

Discipleship is a life in which we are increasingly committed to Jesus and in which we draw others into deeper commitment to Jesus as well. 

Baptism is one of those big moments, but it is not the only moment. As such, the life of discipleship is a life in which I increasingly lean into Jesus, even though I’ve been a Christian more than half my life. And, it’s a life in which I invite others to join me in that journey as well – whether they’ve never heard of Jesus, or whether they’ve been a Christian for 50 years.

In my experience, this is one of the beautiful things about oikos. In the oikos I am a part of, we have a wide range of people. Some are retired. Others are children. Many of us are somewhere in between. Some of us have been Christians a long time. Others haven’t made that formal commitment yet.

And yet, regardless of where we are on that spectrum, we’ve committed to move closer together – the young learn from the old, the old learn from the young, the veteran married couples share their struggles and the hard-earned wisdom they’ve gained, and we’re inspired by the passion of the newly-weds. This list can go on and on. We’re each moving closer to Jesus – deepening that commitment baptism stands for – and we’re each in it together (and always willing to add a few more to the mix).

This is what oikos is. It is a community where we can learn to honor the sort of commitment baptism represents with integrity.

Oikos 101 – Baptizing

Oikos 101 – All In

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This is the latest in a series about what oikos in the context of my 8&H church family. You can find the previous post here. You can find the first post here.

With oikos, we want to develop a context for people to discover their identity in Christ and work out what life with him looks like. This necessarily sets us down the path of discipleship. As I argued in the last post, Matthew 28:18-20 serves as summary of that life, and as such, this text makes up the theological backbone of what we mean by oikos.

Now, I need to begin unpacking that text.

The first thing Jesus says is, “I’ve received all authority in heaven and on earth” (vs. 28). We could spill a lot of words on this short statement, and we could do it without wasting a word, but the upshot of all those words is this: Because of Jesus’ victory on the cross and in his resurrection, he now rules the world.

I’ve found we often don’t mind Jesus being in charge of heavenly things. We tend to label the things we consider heavenly as “spiritual” things, not really knowing what the word means, and carry on with our lives only slightly changed. We struggle a little more with the idea that Jesus has all authority over earthly things. For instance, it’s an election year, and you will commonly hear the sentiment that the church ought to stay out of politics. While I would never advocate one candidate over another, the notion that we should tell those who’ve given their lives to speak God’s word that this word has no place in our political decisions gives me pause. That is, when it comes to how we actually treat our neighbors, we struggle with the notion that Jesus might have something authoritative to say about that. “He’s not concerned about that,” we say. “He’s only interested in ‘spiritual’ things.”

Except that’s not exactly what the text says. It says he has all authority in heaven and on earth. I can’t remember who said it, but I like the sentiment: Jesus is King over all creation, not just Secretary of Afterlife Affairs.

What this means for oikos is a life of discipleship that is just that. A life of discipleship. Jesus wants all the things we consider “spiritual” – and he also wants all the things we consider “worldly.” There is no part of our being, no part of our experience, no part of this creation, that Jesus does not long to bring under his gracious, gentle, and good control.

As such, discipleship can be described as the process of giving all we are over to Jesus’ care and control. Not just Sunday, but every part of our lives, and oikos is a place where we can explore (and practice!) what that looks like in our everyday lives.

Oikos 101 – All In

Oikos 101 – Going

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This is the latest post in a series about a project some of us have undertaken at 8&H. We call it oikos. You can find the previous post here. You can find the first post here. On with today’s festivities!

Oikos is rooted in the Great Commission, found in Matthew 28:18-20. Here, Jesus calls us into a life of being and making disciples. In the last post, we noted this is an all-of-life sort of thing. Today, we want to move into verse 19 and talk about the notion of going.

Despite the way most of our English translations word it, Jesus saying go isn’t exactly a command. The only command in the Great Commission is to make disciples, which Jesus fleshes out with three further statements – we are to be 1) going, 2) baptizing, and 3) teaching. Each of these point toward a facet of what being and making disciples is all about.

The truth is, Jesus doesn’t need to tell us to go. Each of us go on a daily basis. We go to work, or to the store, or to the game. We go home. Some of us go in broader circles than others – the business traveler or the missionary – but we are all continually going. I propose that, for Jesus, the question was never, “Will you go?” but, “Will you give your going to Jesus?”

One of the biggest parts of discipleship is learning that no matter where you go, what you are doing, or who you are with, that is the time to be a disciple. And, it is an opportunity to point someone to the better way of the kingdom. When we walk into a room that is an opportunity to be Jesus’ kind of person. With every person we meet, we have an opportunity to be Jesus’ kind of person.  This is what the heart of going is all about.

As we seek to faithfully embody the kingdom way of life, oikos becomes about learning to give our going to God. One of the things that has made oikos so valuable to those who’ve engaged it is that it is focused (however imperfectly) on how to live for Jesus outside of an explicitly religious context. We are looking to embody Jesus’ vision for our life that is bigger than Sunday morning or Wednesday night. (To be clear, it is definitely not less than those times, but more.)

What does it look like to give our trips to the grocery store to God? Our time stuck in traffic? The fleeting moments we spend with the cashier at the gas station? Sunday lunch at Luby’s? The PTA meeting? Or soccer practice?

Oikos is about exploring those questions in a real way within a community that is committed to giving it’s going to Jesus.

Oikos 101 – Going

Oikos 101 – It’s About Discipleship

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In the first post of this series, we defined oikos (in the context of our church family at 8&H) as an intentional community through which we discover who we are in Christ and what life looks like with him. True to the ancient roots of that word, oikos, we want to develop communities within the larger tapestry of our church life in which people learn to thrive in Jesus.

With that goal in mind, we now need to say the path toward that thriving is the path of discipleship. Put the other way around, we will not find the sort of life where thriving occurs divorced from discipleship to Jesus. Although we continue to refine and grow into our understanding of what it means to be a disciple, this has always been the goal of oikos. We will develop this with time, but it’s also worth pointing out I will use the terms discipleship and Christlikeness synonymously.

As a way of tracing the shape of this path, we might turn to Matthew 28:18-20. This, of course, is the text many of us call “The Great Commission.” Since it’s inception, this text has been one of our primary guides for what oikos should be. We will want to unpack this text as we go along, but here, let’s make just a few foundational observations.

First, Matthew 18:18-20 is a text about discipleship. Jesus gives his commission to disciples. That is, he doesn’t walk up to some Random Joe on the street and say, “You don’t know me, but I have a job for you …” He is talking to those who have already committed themselves to a life of discipleship. What he tells his disciples is they should go and make disciples. There’s a lot more to say about that, but note how the entire text is rooted in the idea. We can summarize it by  saying Jesus called them to be and make disciples.

Second, and we will see this as we unpack the text in more detail, the Great Commission serves as a summary of everything Jesus’ life was about.

At it’s heart oikos is about creating an environment in which we can thrive with the acknowledgement that this thriving can only come from a life of dedicated discipleship. In the next post, we will begin to unpack what that means, and how oikos seeks to embody that way.

 

Oikos 101 – It’s About Discipleship

Oikos 101 – What is Oikos?

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[For anyone who’s read my stuff for any length of time, you know I’ve done this before. (I’m also pretty sure I will do it again.) For me, and for those who participate in oikos with me, the whole process is fluid. We are a work in progress, and that will occasionally require restatement and development. So on occasion, I rewrite what I believe the basics of oikos to be about. It’s good for me.]

What is oikos? It’s a question I’ve been asked a lot lately, and I am the first to admit those of us that participate in oikos haven’t done the best job communicating with those who aren’t. So, pleading for your mercy, here goes nothing.

Oikos is the Greek word in the New Testament for household. In the ancient world, a household is bigger than the nuclear family we tend to think of. One’s oikos included their extended family, as well as any slaves, servants, workers, tenants, or business partners associated with the family. An oikos was a small community within the larger community of a town or village, and one’s oikos was inestimably important.

Why was oikos so important? One hint is in how we’ve come to use the word in modern English. Oikos is pronounced ecos, and as that pronunciation might suggest, it is the root of the English prefix eco. That’s ecology or ecosystem. One’s ecosystem is the environment in which they thrive and that’s getting close to what oikos meant to people in New Testament times.

Oikos was the context in which you did life. It was the context in which your identity and worth and purpose were formed. Oikos was the fundamental building block of ancient society. This truth ran so deep that the entire Roman empire was organized around this idea. The patriarch of an oikos was referred to as kurios or lord. Caesar was referred to as “Lord of lords,” by which the Romans meant he was the patriarch over all the patriarchs and Rome was the oikos to which all other households belonged. (Of course, the early church took this up and subverted it in some important ways.)

Oikos was the environment in which people thrived. And, when we talk about oikos in the context of our 8&H family, that’s what we’re talking about. Oikos is about developing intentional communities in which we can learn who we are in Christ and what life with him (and one another) looks like.

As we will say in the next post of this series, this means oikos is predominantly about discipleship.

Oikos 101 – What is Oikos?