While I read Alex Absalom’s stuff, I have not spent much time considering what he has concerning OIKOS. However, I am swayed of it being a way to understand how it is the church in the first few centuries of its existence was able to spread. It spread through networks of relationship…which is far different than what it became after getting institutionalized as “church.”
In Greek and Roman society, everyone was part of an oikos.
Headed by the senior citizen, your oikos (a Greek word that means ‘household’) included your family, relatives, friends, neighbors, slaves, and business associates (since most business and trade took place out of the home). In other words, it was your primary relational network — your extended family, if you like.
And, as we think about how this translates into today’s world, he writes:
The nearest modern version of an oikos is your extended network of relationships. This will be a group of roughly 20 to 70 people, with whom you share snapshots of what it would be like to be close friends, these snapshots leading to meaningful bonds of affinity. These people won’t (can’t) all be your closest friends, but this group feels like your broader context for belonging. It is your gang, your clan, your extended family.
One of my challenges, upon reading this, is realizing how “institutional” my approach to missional community has been. I’ve made it into one of the “programs” of the church. And now that Lent is over and the “curriculum” is over we can move on to other programs, I fear it is going to fall by the wayside.
But, perhaps we have built up some relationships enough so that there can be some continuation of this as we go forward.