I know I came up with a gung-ho post when we started going back to Breakwater last fall (though for reasons unbeknownst even to us, we gradually stopped attending even there after a month or two), and that was written up within the first week that we attended. Why has it taken me nearly two months to write about Oikos? I'm not sure. Certainly not because I'm not excited.
Maybe I'm worried about crying wolf, like I did with Breakwater, though I don't think that's quite right, since already we're involved in several studies, groups and ministries at Oikos, not the least significant of which is the membership class. We love Oikos, for more reasons than I can list here without sounding like I'm trying to sell the church to you. Probably I'm sounding like that anyway. But here are the top three things we love about the church, just to get them out of the way:
1) The people! Never have I found myself in a group so willing to help one another at the drop of a hat--you say your car's in the shop? At least one person, if not three, will offer to loan you their car for a week. You're suffering some sort of stress or prolonged illness? People will organize and offer to buy groceries for you, clean your house, watch your kids for a few hours. It's absolutely amazing to see, I'm not kidding. And that sort of love is contagious--when somebody loves on you like that, you're dying to turn around and offer that love to someone else.
2) The pastor. He's young, sure, but he doesn't mess around trying to make the Bible relevant to today's youth. The entire time we've been attending, I think the church has made it through two chapters of the book of James, because each week Pete picks one or two (or on an ambitious day like today, six) verses and expounds on them for over an hour, without ever skirting around the tough parts. Today's sermon was on James 5:1-6, and it ended on the ever-uplifting "Howl and moan for the miseries that are coming upon you!" These are not light-hearted sermons, no, but they make you feel horrible in the way that cuts through the self-protective veil and motivates you to change.
Also, he makes a huge effort to get to know everybody, which I admire. Questions are encouraged, which is sadly not always the state of things--I've attended churches where questions were pretty much discouraged, and the pastor didn't have time to answer them anyway. I asked Pete today if some of the books out front were free or for sale, and he went off for roughly ten minutes on one of the most beautiful rants I've ever heard--I got a little choked up, even. It was truly beautiful.
3) The services. I know in this I risk sounding a bit superficial, but we've gone to enough places where we didn't like the services to know that we really do truly love the services at Oikos. The sermons are long and intense, communion is served every week, there's time for private prayer at the beginning of each sermon, and (best and most superficial) there is no PowerPoint display. The words to the songs are printed in the bulletin, so rather than being fed songs two lines at a time, you can read over them and really consider the lyrics--you can even take them home with you, and read them again if you want.
Now that it comes to it, I think I've put off writing this up because I worry that I'm going to go on and on about how rad our church is, which generally makes people feel like their church just isn't that cool, but that is absolutely not my intent. I think Mitch and I are both all fired up to have finally found (through the oddest of means, which involved, of all things, Myspace) a place where we feel at home, and where feel that we're growing in our faith rather than stagnating, so it's difficult to not tell about it, just as it's difficult to tell about it well.
So there. New church. It's awesome. We're humbled and growing like mad.
And what does "Oikos" mean, anyway? In Greek, it means "household". Family. How very fitting.
(Here's the website, if you want to know more.)