Sociological Perspective & Group Dynamics
A Challenge to the Model, a Gap in the Model
If the Oikos model works, you should be able to show it.
Comes from a field of research called proxemics [See: Edward T. Hall and Search to Belong by Meyers]
There are 4 contexts outlined in the research and a 5th added by Alex. Each carries with it a particular set of characteristics and each is well suited to different socio-religious activity. Alex provides language to describe the different groups which is group-specific. Also, we need to remember that the three movements of the ‘Church’ are Up (^), In (><), and Out (<>)—keeping these directions/movements in mind will help clarify the function of each group setting. It should be noted that the larger types of groups (public, social) require or tend to have more formal organization than the others.
100s of people. Shared experience might be that they are attending a sporting event or watching a concert. The event they are focusing on together (the sport or concert, or preacher) is usually 12’ or more away from them.
May mean a Sunday service—which is very ^ oriented.
Inspiration—band, preaching, etc
“Move-mentum”—stories in the church of living on mission create interest and motivation for more movement. Subjective stories of the individual are connected to the objective story of God.
Preaching/Teaching—learning, equipping, challenging, infusing the Missional edge of the church with energy.
20-70 people. This context allows individuals to share snapshots of what it would be like to be friends with one another. A place of affinity, but not intimacy. Usually, individuals are about 4’ away from one another, or about the distance you stand away from someone for a handshake.
This type of group is, usually, sorely lacking in church culture and organization today. When we, as a church, gather in this size, we tend to operate as a ‘public’ gathering would. –in fact, the ‘social’ gathering is the component needed to make a Missional community (like that of the Oikos) grow into a movement-making Missional edge of the church.
The Social setting is easier to invite others to than the personal or public setting. The individual will not be expected to share personal information or be vulnerable. Also, people who tend to derail or control conversations will not be able to dominate the character of the gathering—since there are 20-70 people. If there were only, say, 12 people, the group could be hijacked by bad attitude.
Social groups are also easier to multiply—the ties are not as strong as a personal group, so it will not feel like a personal loss when it happens.
Community—is there authentic Christian community which includes non-Christians?
Mission—is the group reaching, connecting, building relationships with people who do not know Jesus? How is the group moving toward their mission/vision (including their specific goals as a community)
Spiritual Gifts—Are individuals able to take part in the body of believers as part of APEST? This can be seen as part of your leadership pipeline—this setting is a place where it is easier to try new things than in the public setting—fewer people, does not have to be the focus of the group (think of a person singing a song at a party or quietly praying for a friend vs. praying or playing music as part of Sunday morning—way less pressure in the social setting.)
3-12 people. A place to share somewhat private thoughts and feelings. People are about 18” to 4’ away—as people sitting in the same room talking.
Evaluation Language: A good look at Christian community with respect to close brothers and sisters.
1 or 2 other people. Naked self is shared, sometimes literally, if we are looking at the context of marriage. 0-18”.
Where God interacts with only you.
Under this Model, Sunday will become a celebration and resource hub for the other groups—and an equipping meeting for the rest of the week.
Need to ask yourself—if someone can only go to one meeting a week, which one should they go to? Traditionally, the church has said they should go to the ‘Sunday’ gathering—while that may be true in some case, it depends on the person as needs vary from person to person.