Is it possible that those of us who are faith leaders are focusing on the wrong things? Like the number of “followers” we have, the size of our local churches, or the myth of reaching everyone. Pursuing auditoriums full of believers has never been the goal of the Church, but leading people to embrace the Church’s mission has always been.
Tom Mercer’s latest book, Not My Church, takes the fundamentals he taught us in “8 to 15” and shares how they can help us generate a Kingdom-first strategy.
Tom challenges us — parishioners, leadership teams, and influencers alike — to reassess how we invite others to join us in pursuing the Great Commission.
He asks us to stop overcomplicating the mission of the Church and, instead, focus on the people we can actually impact, those who are closest to us.
So, how do we do that? By resetting our focus on the oikos principle, the same principle Jesus himself designed and modeled, time and time again.
oikos, n, extended household (Gr.)
The group of 8 to 15 people with whom you share life most closely, your sphere of greatest influence. In fact, 95% of all believers come to Christ primarily because of the influence of someone in their oikos.
Every believer’s primary responsibility is to effect change with the people we can most likely reach — our oikos. No one else can fulfill His purpose in your world better than you can.
Picture your life as taking place in a theater, one that’s filled with a lot of people. Some are sitting in the balcony. Others in the mezzanine. Still others are sitting down in the orchestra section. To some degree, they may all be able to see the way you behave or listen to what you say, but it’s those people in the front row who have the best seats in the house to do both. The ancient Greeks called that group, the people on your front row, your oikos.
It’s a leader’s responsibility to equip those we lead to leverage this incredibly powerful principle, empower them to get into the game of world change themselves.
Need proof? Just take a closer look at the original example. Jesus poured His life and purpose into His twelve disciples. He prepared people to change their worlds by engaging their oikos. Or, as He put it, by going “home to their own people.” Or look at the regions of the world where Christ’s Church is growing most rapidly, even without church buildings or large weekend events.
The strategy Jesus chose to build His Church was never even remotely kept secret. He gave us the key to church growth before anyone ever wrote a book on evangelism or discipleship. The reason that Jesus modeled, taught and commissioned the oikos principle is simple. He built us for it.
The strategy Jesus chose to build His Church was never even remotely kept secret. He gave us the key to Church growth before anyone ever wrote a book on evangelism or discipleship. The reason that Jesus modeled, taught and commissioned the oikos principle is simple. He built us for it.
When you focus on the people God has already placed right in front of you? That’s when real-world transformation happens — and the results are staggering!
Most Christians don’t realize they’re built to change the world, and most churches aren’t structured to help them figure that out.
Challenge your church, your world, and your oikos to let His mission become their mission.
“The oikos approach to congregational mission didn’t just change the vocabulary of our churches. It reawakened their mission heart and revitalized their mission practice.”
– Bert Downs, Former President, Western Seminary
“Tom has always been a huge encouragement and example for me in ministry, and I love seeing my calling through his lens of oikos. God’s plan to reach the world is the church, the church’s plan to accomplish that mission is the oikos principle.”
– Chris Brown, Teaching Pastor, North Coast Church, Vista, California
“Tom has once again written something that is biblical, practical, clear, and tremendously helpful, without ever coming across like a know-it-all. He shows us how effective ministry is actually simple and doable for every devoted believer. I just hope that a lot of people read this book and the gospel advances with greater impact because of it.”
– Erik Thoennes, Professor and Chair of Theology, Biola University
Tom has been in pastoral ministry for over 45 years. He received his formal education at Biola University and Talbot Seminary. For the past 37 years he has been the Senior Pastor and primary teacher at the High Desert Church in Southern California. During that time, the church has grown from 125 to over 14,000 regular attenders, from one campus to four. He is the author of the books, 8 to 15—The World is Smaller Than You Think and now Not My Church. Tom and his wife, Sheryl, have been married for 40 years. They have three married children and ten grandchildren.
As a faith leader, do you sometimes feel like you’re not reaching enough people? Do you worry that the size of your church is an indication of your ability to impact the culture?
You don’t need to, because creating real and effective change doesn’t mean you need the big stage to be successful. Real worldchange starts with the impact you have on your oikos, the people who are part of your world.
Read Not My Church with your leadership team, your influencers, even your entire church! Learn the strategy that can revolutionize your life, revitalize your church and reach your world for Jesus.