Outreach, friendship evangelism, prospecting, and the empty chair are all buzz words that have been used in small group ministry through the years. As we intimately witness first hand the love of Christ as the early church experienced it in small groups, we feel the passionate need to reach out and to evangelize our community. We have tried everything from putting together a prospect list of potentially perfect group members to praying earnestly for the empty chair. We are always hoping that somewhere, someone will want to join our small group.
At some point in the enthusiasm of building my small group I forgot that the people I am most likely to influence for the Lord are those that are in my oikos. Oikos is the Greek word for sphere of influence, which includes those people we rub shoulders with on a regular basis in the neighborhood, at school, during our recreation, and even in our church.
The following chart is a simple, symbolic way of identifying your sphere of influence. Make a copy of the chart for each of your group members. During your prayer time ask your group to complete the chart. Once you have listed those people in your oikos, challenge them to identify two people from their chart, share their names with the group, and ask each person to make a commitment to begin praying for those two people to come to know Jesus Christ. Each week provide a time to voice prayers for the salvation of these people.
As our focus shifts from growing groups to salvation supplication, two thrilling things happen. First, our group members develop a pure heart of compassion for the lost. And, as a bonus, our groups will naturally grow because as our oikos observes our Christ-like love and friendship, they will be drawn into our circle—into ...