Oikos is a new popular buzz-word in church work right now. In the greek it means household, but could be expanded to mean a social network. Church planters talk about knowing your oikos, reaching your oikos, influencing your oikos, cuddling your oikos, using your oikos, making love to your oikos and doing whatever else with your oikos. Some of that was exaggerated, but really, you get pretty tired of it after a while, but the ideas are useful.
The oikos movement is a reaction to the typical western life-style. We live in such a way now that we can know no one who works at our local grocery store or gas station. We can eat at any restaurant we want, get coffee anywhere we want, go to any bar we want, live in one place, commute to another, never really having to interact with anyone twice if we didn’t want to.
The big idea is about creating a routine to keep touching the same people, conversing with the same people and building relationships with people on a regular basis. This requires a huge over-haul of the lifestyle that we get sucked into as Americans. I will just write a couple of small blurbs about things that I have found helpful.
1. Pick one grocery store, at one time, one cashier.
Pick the grocery store that you like the most and commit to using that store exclusively. Furthermore, try to find the same cashier each time that you are there. This means a couple of things. One, you might have to pay a little more in one place rather than getting the cheapest cereal here, cheapest milk there, cheapest bread somewhere else (but really after gas, how much are you saving?). Two, your schedule and options are more limited which leads to simplification and greater happiness (future post coming about that). Three, you can’t use the express line. If you go to the store and get out without talking to anyone, this exercise is a wash. Find the same cashier and overtime try to build a relationship with that person.
2. Regular night, regular waiter.
Pick a night every week or ever couple of weeks and go to the same restaurant, intentionally ask for the same waiter or waitress. This leads to a relationship that you enjoy and learn to rely on. (Believe me, when my group of friends went to Buffalo Wild Wings and Annie wasn’t working on, we began to really question if we should stay. We were at a loss.) Eventually there is an ease about the exchange where they already know your drinks, preferences etc and that makes the dining experience more enjoyable.
3. All meetings, one coffee shop
If you are the kind of person who likes sitting down with people over a (relatively) inexpensive meal or drink, the coffee shop is the natural option. Deciding on one shop that you prefer is a good way to get to know the shop staff as well as bring new people to a shop that they might not have otherwise tried.
4. Regular night, regular activity
As you start developing routine and getting more involved in people’s worlds you should feel inclined to invite people into yours. If there is something weekly or every other week that you and your friends do with the intent of inviting other people along, you have a non-confrontational way to bring people in to your community. Bowling, game night, movie night, dinner, whatever it is, have something like that to bring people along to. It could even just be inviting them out to dinner at your weekly restaurant (#2).