“And they said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.’ And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.”
–Acts 16:31-32, ESV
Several months ago, another pastor shared with me something he referred to as an oikos map*. The word oikos is the Greek word for “household”. An oikos map no doubt refers to the various occasions found in the Bible where a whole household came to faith in Jesus often by the witness of one believer who had influence there.
An oikos map is a simple tool to help you visualize on a piece of paper your sphere of influence. You jot down names of people you know who are far from Christ and also include their various spheres of influence as well. From there, you have a visual picture of people in your life who you can reach for Jesus and the kind of impact it will make if you brought some of them to Him. You can then start praying for each one and begin looking out for opportunities to share the gospel with them. Here’s an example of what my oikos map looks like. (Note: All names have been changed to protect their identity.)
As you can see, I’ve place my name in the middle. I’ve then added people that are in my sphere of influence who I know are far from Jesus. I've also included information that I know about them in terms of their own personal relationships. For example, I know “Sammy” has a wife and two young children. I know “Cameron” has a grandmother because he has mentioned it to me. I know “Roger” has a large influence at his workplace. These bits of information came my way through the many small conversations that I've had with each one. With my oikos map in hand, I now begin to pray for each one and will start to be on the lookout for God-given opportunities to share the gospel with any of them.
At the very least, what an oikos map does is help you pray for people and ask God to do something in their lives. Here’s a great example of this. I met “Hannah” many years ago when she was new to a store I go to. I’ve had many small conversations with her but never had an opportunity to present the gospel. She’s always quite busy working and it never seemed appropriate to present the gospel to her in the middle of her duties. So all I could do was put her on my oikos map and pray for her. About two weeks ago, she came up to me and told me she’s now a Christian and has started going to a church! Apparently, a close friend of hers brought her to Christ and invited her to a church. Although I didn’t share the gospel with her directly, I prayed for her and I felt that God had answered my prayer in that regard by sending the appropriate person to minister to her.
I think having an oikos map would be a helpful tool just to get you started in thinking about your non-Christian friends, in praying for them, and in being on the lookout for opportunities to present Jesus.
*Unfortunately, I’m not sure where the original idea of an oikos map came from. If you happen to know, I’d appreciate a message from you.