Philip P. Eapen
Discover the most effective way of sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ and to bear lasting fruit for the Kingdom of God. The early church made full use of the strongest of human ties to lead fellowmen to God.
The apostles and the early church proclaimed the gospel to the public in market places, synagogues, and town squares. However, the majority of Christians shared the gospel privately with their friends and family.
The strongest human ties are often ties of kinship within a family or household. There are other ties too. Households don’t often exist in isolation. Households are found in a community. Members of this community too often experience a strong bond with one another. Another level of human ties is found in extended “clans”. In the modern context, these “clans” are groups that share a particular interest - at the workplace, a trade union, clubs, a religious community, etc.
The three levels of kinship are: kinship, community, and shared interests. The early church made full use of these human ties. The Gospel flowed freely from one person to another who belonged to the same household, community or interest group.
The basic thrust of the New Testament evangelism was not individual evangelism, it was not mass evangelism; and it was definitely not child evangelism. The normative pattern of evangelism in the early church was Oikos Evangelism. - Dr Thomas A. Wolf
Oikos, in Greek, means household. There are a few English words that are derived from the Greek word oikos. Economics (oikos + nomos) is the “law of the household.” Ecology (oikos + logos) is the study of the household called planet Earth that we share with other humans and organisms.
- John the Baptist introduced his disciples John and Andrew to Jesus. They followed Jesus. Later, Andrew found his brother Simon and brought him to Jesus. By the way, John and James were Jesus’ cousins. Their mother was Mary’s sister!
- After Philip started following Jesus, he went and brought his friend Nathanael to Jesus: John 1:35-45
- Jesus chose Levi the tax collector to be his disciple. Levi threw a party at his house for Jesus and his disciples. Levi invited his friends who were also tax collectors - Luke 5:27-32
- Cornelius fear the Lord with all his household. An angel appeared to him and asked him to send for Peter who would “tell him what he must do.” When Peter arrived at his house, Cornelius invited his household to listen to the gospel. Acts 10:24
- When the Lord opened Lydia’s heart to the gospel, she led her household to Christ. After her household was baptized she invited Paul and Silas to her home. Acts 16:14-15
- The Jailor at Philippi made sure that he and his family listened to the good news preached by Paul and Silas. They were all baptized that night. Acts 16:31-32
- The nameless Jewish slave in Naaman’s house introduced her master, a mighty army general, to the living God of Israel. The man was so moved by the miraculous healing he received that he decided to serve no other god but the God of Israel. (2 Kings 5:1-3) The slave girl was a part of Naaman’s household. She knew the members of the household and their needs. Whether out of love for her master or for the sake of her typically Jewish dislike towards living with a leper, she was instrumental in leading her master to God. “If only my master would go to Samaria …”
Things To Remember
- It is easier to share the good news with people whom we know, with whom we share our lives - our household (oikos)
- It is important to know the people in our oikos - their beliefs, practices, needs, aspirations, etc.
- A member of our oikos who is in need is often the best target for evangelism. God uses our felt needs to make us aware of our more fundamental needs about which we are unaware.
Things To Do
- IDENTIFY: Identify and make a list of people with whom you interact regularly. They are part of your oikos. You could also create an Oikos Map as shown above.
- INTERCEDE: Pray specifically for the salvation of these people.
- INQUIRE: Know your oikos well: their practices, underlying beliefs, needs, preferences, etc.
- IDENTIFY with your oikos and earn their trust.
- Offer to help members of your oikos with various tasks.
- Identify with them in their joys and sorrows. Never miss an opportunity.
- Extend your hospitality.
- INTERVENE: Express godly love to your oikos through genuine acts of kindness, prayers for divine healing, deliverance, etc. Introduce Jesus to them as their Healer, Provider and Savior.
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About the author
Philip Eapen, an environmental scientist by training, devoted his life to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ ever since he realized that the world needs Jesus Christ more than anyone or anything else. Apart from sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, Philip teaches Christians in order to equip them for service. He is supported by donations from readers; he also runs a small ‘tent-making’ business. Philip is married to Dr. Jessimol and they are blessed with three sons and a daughter.
Date: May 1, 2018