They replied, “Believe in the Lord Yeshua, and you will be saved — you and your household.” – Acts 16:31
In Israel, we have raised up several teams that have planted many home fellowships among both sabra Jews and Muslim Arabs. We have found several biblical principles and best practices to see this accomplished. Although an outsider to the Luke 10 style we do ministry may see some of these practices as “unorthodox”, we have found them rooted in the scriptures and practiced by the early Jewish followers of Yeshua. We have adopted these “best practices” for greater impact in the Great Commission to win the oikos (households) to faith rather than just individuals.
Fish With A Net and Not With A Fishing Pole
By targeting communities, households, and homogeneous groups for household salvation; we make sure that we are fishing for a “school” of fish rather than individual fish. Individualism has plagued our society for too long and is a modern concept, As we see both with the Philipian jailer and with Yeshua’s instructions in Luke 10, families and households were intentionally sought out for salvation and not individuals.
Evangelism in Homes and Not in the Streets
Many times in the past we would measure how God in his amazing grace would touch, heal, or deliver “one person at a time” on the streets. However, this was very hard to follow up, and led to individuals receiving the Messiah and not households. Like Yeshua, we have moved the heart of evangelism and healing ministry to the homes of those we are reaching. We have several examples of this in the scriptures including the mother in law of Peter in her house in Capernaum, Zaccheus house, Lydia’s house, Mary and Martha’s house, and many more. These are “houses of peace” that the Holy Spirit will open up for you and will become the hub of a gospel movement in an area. The house in Capernaum hosted several healing meetings and gospel meetings in Mark 1-4. Let’s intentionally assess our weekly evangelistic efforts by how many homes we were invited into and not how many people we shared with on the streets. We can be creative and wise in how we get invited to homes, Yeshua Himself invited himself over to eat into the house of Zaccheus. Moving ministry into the homes of those you are reaching also highly increases the chances of reaching whole social and family networks rather than just individuals.
We Make Disciples, Yeshua Builds His Kehila
Yeshua commanded us to “Go and Make Disciples of All Nations” (Matthew 28:18), and He also said, “I will build my kehila” (Matthew 16:18). We often confuse what is Yeshua’s job and what our job is. I believe we can expect whenever we go out and make disciples of households, those obedient households that come to faith organically are built into a household community of faith by Yeshua Himself. Understanding our role, Yeshua’s role, and the Holy Spirit’s role can make our job much easier in this blessed partnership. I personally believe if we spent less time trying to build the kehila and more time in making disciples, we will see entire households come to faith and Yeshua will build his kehila all over the country with new communities sprouting up everywhere.
Find a Prepared Person of Peace
Persons of peace according to Luke 10 are people that Yeshua has prepared to open up their sphere of influence to the gospel with his resources and influence. Oftentimes our evangelism efforts involve the evangelist or apostle providing for those they are reaching, but the biblical model is that the person of peace is recognised by his ability to provide for the evangelist, apostle, and the gospel movement he will start. This person of peace is usually the gatekeeper for his household, community, or homogeneous group. He more than likely will become the spiritual leader of his group and the gospel work is actually his work with the apostle and evangelist just coaching the person of peace. Our job as apostles and evangelists is not to usurp the leadership role the person of peace already has in his community, but to help and coach the person of peace to be the spiritual leader God has raised Him up to be and helping him to bring the kingdom of God into his sphere of authority. By working through a person of peace by helping his ministry, rather than creating our own ministry and usurping influence, we are better able to win households rather than individuals.
Go Slow to Go Fast
Many times the person of peace will want to receive water immersion in Yeshua’s name immediately, however, the only reason to delay water immersion is to wait for the entire family to be on board with him. This gives the person of peace while he is a seeker “plausible deniability.” Both seekers and new believers usually have a window of 6-12 months of effectiveness to lead their friends and family to the Lord. By going at the pace of the slowest person in the group, we can actually maximise a community effect of salvation. If we go to fast, we may gain the person of peace, but will lose the rest of his sphere of influence. Lets take our time and make sure “everyone is on board” while trying to lead a family and community to salvation.
New Wine in New Wineskins
Probably one of the most controversial aspects of oikos evangelism is that apostolic practitioners are often accused of not bringing new believers to a local congregation. To an outsider, it may look like we even are against the local congregation; however, the opposite is true. The kehila is God’s beautiful body in all its expressions and we appreciate all local congregations that God has raised up as God’s precious bride. We love the local congregation so much, we just want many more of them! We want to flood the country with local congregations!! The more the merrier! We agree that there are no lone rangers in the kingdom and that the full expression of Yeshua on the earth is seen as a body of believers. Neither can maturity and growth happen outside of the local expression of the body of Messiah together. Because of this belief, we often withhold new believers, especially persons of peace, from attending another local fellowship- neither do we send, as many evangelists do, the new believers to an established body. We see every new believer, especially persons of peace, as an opportunity for a new expression of a local congregation. When have found that when a person of peace is placed within an existing and established congregation, the likelihood of them reaching their sphere of influence is dramatically lowered. When we coach, disciple, and mentor the person of peace and new believer or seeker in his house, outside of an existing fellowship, the likelihood of them reaching their household is raised dramatically. So rather than enjoining them to an existing congregation, we actually see the potential of them establishing a new congregation with the person of peace as the potential leader and his sphere of influence as the new congregation. With proper disciple-making, coaching, and mentoring from the outsider (apostle, evangelist) these new fellowship can become very mature and reproducing fellowships.
Discovery or Teach?
There is room for both teaching the scriptures and encouraging inductive discovery based off of asking intentional questions. However, facilitating discovery is more easily reproducible and is more effective in raising up new leaders. 1 Corinthians 14:26-32 describes very open meetings where everyone is able to use their gifting and speak in a meeting. If we encourage this in our evangelistic approach to seeker households, it will carry over into when they become a living and breathing kehila. This does not mean that there isn’t a need for teaching now and then, but it means that discussion and participation is always encouraged.
Most important of all things is that the Great Commission encourages us to “teach them to observe everything I have commanded them.” Whether in evangelism with seekers, in discipleship with new believers, or in home fellowships in a growing maturing congregation- communities that learn to obey Yeshua together will stay together. The heart of a biblical congregation is covenanting together to lovingly obey Yeshua’s commands. This is the reason why application and obedience-based questions and accountability are so important in seeing entire communities and households come to faith and mature.
Let’s pray for the salvation of all of Israel, household by household.