The countdown has made it to blast-off! Koinonia Institute is now eager to open wide its doors and join the fight!
But before the main course, lets start with the appetizer
My name is Dan Stolebarger. I pulled into Post Falls, Idaho in mid-July to officially accept a position to assist Chuck in the development of Koinonia Institute (KI). Before giving a short summary of my past, in terms of vocation and calling, let me first tell you the important stuff.
God has given me my perfect helpmate: her name is Sharon and she is the love of my life. We are currently in our 29th year of marriage! Next, we have three great sons: Lucas, Trevor and Jesse. Luke and Trevor were married this year, so we have expanded our family by adding Magdalena and Alicia. And I cannot leave out my Mom, Mary Ann, who believes that I am the most inspiring speaker this world has ever known - if you dont believe me, just ask her!
I was born and raised in San Diego, California. During my senior year of high school I received Christ and immediately got involved in the "Jesus Movement." I landed in a "communal Christian community" where I lived an Acts 2:42 lifestyle for the next ten years. During those years, I met my wife, received my formal education at Point Loma College, and then earned my Masters at Bethel West Seminary. I also served the church in a variety of capacities. Ultimately, I was sent out as a pastor to start a new work in a newly developed part of San Diego.
After a few years at a new church plant, God moved me to Horizon Christian Fellowship - my first experience with a "mega-church." During the next ten years of my life I was involved in developing a Christian Junior and Senior High School. My responsibilities included heading up the Bible Department as well as starting the Athletic Department. It was while coaching football that I was introduced to a former NFL player on staff at Horizon, Miles McPherson.
Miles was "sent out" from Horizon in the summer of 2000 to launch the Rock Church. From the start, this church exploded with "young college kids" and it was apparent God was doing a mighty work. Soon after the Rock began, I left Horizon to join Miles. Specifically, my responsibility was to oversee the Small Group ministry. Over time, I wore many hats at the Rock and eventually served as the Executive Pastor, but my heart and passion always resided in Small Groups. The Rock church service numbers swelled into the 7000s, but I knew our effectiveness always had to do with how successful we were in getting the masses into Small Groups. It was in this setting that I saw the greatest capacity to do the things Christ commands. We ended last year with 500 Small Groups at the Rock!
I met Chuck Missler through my closer-than-a-brother friend, Gordon McDonald. He was relentless when it came to getting me to listen to this Missler guy and, when I was at a dry place, God used Gordon to introduce me to Chuck. The first tape I ever listened to was on Isaiah and at that moment I became a Missler junkie! Over the last few years I have traveled with Chuck to Ethiopia, Egypt, and Israel and also had the opportunity to cruise the Mediterranean with him in search of the anchors of Paul. What I found was that the man matched the message!
While I was at the Rock we were able to have Chuck speak to our young congregation. They were "electric" when he was with us; we saw Chuck as a spiritual father, one who had been in the battle for quite some time! It was evident that God was knitting our hearts together. So this spring I accepted the position with Chuck, moving me from the Rock in San Diego, California, to KI in Post Falls, Idaho.
The briefing package The Once and Future Church is a "must-have" when it comes to understanding the times in which we are living. I have experienced "church" in a lot of different settings but there is one thing that is glaring. Most believers, when it comes to the Bible, are lacking. We have a crisis on our hands; its like the famine that Amos spoke of in Chapter 8:
I will turn your feasts into mourning, And all your songs into lamentation; I will bring sackcloth on every waist, And baldness on every head; I will make it like mourning for an only son, And its end like a bitter day. Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord GOD, That I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, But of hearing the words of the LORD. They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; They shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the LORD, but shall not find it.
I am a self-confessed optimist and I abhor negative criticism; however, we must see and we must hear - we cannot close our eyes to this truth: that most believers are spiritually ignorant when it comes to Gods Word. And we wonder why the church is powerless! One of the most difficult decisions we had to make at the Rock was to determine who was "qualified" to lead a Small Group. We decided to call our leaders "facilitators" because, Biblically speaking, they could not fill the shoes of "teacher."
I am so grateful for those who took the challenge to lead a Small Group. They defied a major problem found in most fellowships - a lack of leaders. Its easy to simply attend something and with the explosion of technology we can "put on" some amazing events but that aint church! Where the rubber meets the road is in Small Groups, where people not only know your name but they also know your issues. It is here where we "hold hands and pray specifics"; its here where we break bread together; and, its here where we really have the best place to teach, discuss and learn the Word of God! This forms the foundation on which we are building KI.
I believe in KI. I believe that we are to create a community where we can educate the "young lions" - those who are currently "non-professional" ministers, hungry to learn more of the Word. Some will take advantage of KI to pursue educational degrees; some will be a part of this community in order to sharpen the arrows in their quivers. The goal of KI is not only to enable warriors to gain educational credentials, but more importantly to produce Bereans and sons of Issachar:
These [Bereans] were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.
...And of the sons of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their commandment.
1 Chronicles 12:32
We currently offer eight different courses, all of which are accepted by Louisiana Baptist University. Through KI, you can work towards your masters and/or doctorate from LBU. (For a list of these courses see here.) Currently, we are adding more courses (Chucks Revelation study is next) and building an online dimension. Stay tuned for upcoming KI classes that are online and interactive. We are excited about this new dimension because it will not only enable one to take quizzes and course work online, but it will provide an opportunity to interact with other students as well as with the class proctor.
As the KI community begins to grow and mature, we believe that God will not only use this to provide great curriculum and leadership accountability, but also to draw together a "think tank" of individuals with specific insights - those who "understand the times and know what Israel ought to do." This "sons of Issachar" element is an intriguing aspect of the KI community we are eager to watch develop.
We know the future - its in The Book! As the days grow darker and lawlessness increases, where will the Light come from? It just may be a part of what God is doing in our midst as we speak.
If you have any questions concerning Koinonia Institute, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are currently involved in Small Group ministry or have a passion for what we refer to as "The Once and Future Church," pray about joining us this October. See the next page for details.