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Koinonia International Fellowship

Once Again the Fog Is Lifting

by Dr. Dan Stolebarger


Now, just like it was eight years ago, we are seeing some more fog beginning to lift as we look at the future of KI. Even though we still do not want to compete with churches, we are starting to see a need for us to tighten the cords of our Fellowship!

Over eight years ago I left a large church in San Diego to become part of a new revolution. My gut (okay—probably the Holy Spirit) was telling me that God was leading me to a new type of ministry that had never been done before. So, I made the move and hitched my wagon to Chuck Missler and K-House and began this “new” work.

Early Planning at Koinonia Institute

Even today I can remember the times that Chuck and I would spend in his office “plottin’ and schemin’,” at least that’s what we called it, but in reality I can see that it was really us seeking the mind of the Lord! In the early days we often spoke about the fog lifting and then we relished a new-found clarity.

Over the weeks and months we discovered the “three pillars” the Lord had given to us and these pillars are what we used as a foundation to build what we now call Koinonia Institute. Things seemed to be going at warp speed back then and Chuck and I often quipped, “There they go and we’re their leaders!”

Now, as KI was being formed we were very cautious not to present ourselves as a replacement for the Church; we truly saw the Institute as a supplement to the Church.

The Role of Small Groups

As I look back at the time I served at a mega-church in San Diego, I can now see some of the seeds that God used to plant KI. We were a young church and always planned a yearly visit from Chuck Missler. During that time I was both the Executive Pastor as well as the pastor overseeing all of our Small Groups.

Chuck could truly see that we were committed to building Small Groups, as we coined the phrase that our church was a church that was made up of Small Groups! We knew the power of these small groups and how the Lord was using them to assist in growing passionate Talmidimers (Disciples).

With the Small Group revolution as a backdrop, along with Chuck’s past experiences in Home Fellowships, he recorded a Topical Study called The Once and Future Church. Here’s what Chuck has to say about this teaching:

The greatest personal growth I’ve ever witnessed occurred in a home Bible study. The fellowship of those intimate home groups, where people can interact, ask questions, and hold one another accountable, was the place of growth for all of us—teacher and student…This was, of course, the way it all started. A group of only a dozen— fisherman and others—along a seaside in Galilee. Even later as Paul traveled and planted, it was the intimacy of home fellowships that provided the earliest forums for the Gospel. Today, too many people get lost in church and are only getting a surface skimming of the Word of God. We encourage you to be intentional and get involved!

The Bronze Package Is Born

So, the work began, and the Bronze Package was soon created, which included three courses by Chuck and one by me. These courses were centered around our Pillars:

  • Berean—Old and New Testament Survey;
  • Issachar—Introduction to Prophecy, and
  • Koinonos—Introduction to Spiritual Disciplines.

The curriculum was the easy part, but now we needed to go beyond a self-study method and start exploiting new technology called Online Learning! Looking back I can remember the fog lifting once again as we built three elements to each of these online classes. First, we made the material available in a variety of ways: MP3, downloads, CDs, and of course DVDs because we knew that people learn in different ways. Second, because we wanted interaction for our students we put together Discussion Questions that allowed them to both briefly answers some questions as well as to interact with other students in their classroom.

We had no idea how popular that aspect would become! People began to build real community in these online classes! We then added weekly quizzes and a comprehensive final to complete the course.

Last was the question of how to grade. We then came up with the following grading scale: Discussion Question participation = 25%; weekly quizzes = 25%; and Comprehensive Final = 50%.

The amazing thing to remember is this was being done entirely on the Internet. Hundreds began to see the value of this and thousands of folks have joined Koinonia Institute over the years, and to date it is staggering to think that we have awarded over 2300 Bronze Medallions!

Koinonia Institute Today

Over the years we have added lots of courses and created two other Medallion Tracks: Silver and Gold to go along with the Bronze. And at our last Koinonia Institute Strategic Perspectives Conference we awarded our first 10 earned Golds to go along with our 65 Silvers.

One thing that has stuck in my mind was that when we were beta testing some of these early classes I would do an exit survey and was stunned to find that one of the things that our students enjoyed the most were the Discussion Questions! The reason? Because they found other folks that had similar passions and were like-minded! I guess it was a kind of a validation that they weren’t weird! Part of it was because others had some of the same concerns regarding their church experiences; they really didn’t want to leave but they could see their church being compromised and slipping towards the things of the world. Even though we too could see this we still wanted to be cautious in not wanting to be seen as a ministry that was competing with the church. However …

Koinonia International Fellowship

Now, just like it was eight years ago, we are seeing some more fog beginning to lift as we look at the future of KI. Even though we still do not want to compete with churches, we are starting to see a need for us to tighten the cords of our Fellowship! Many of those who are a part of the Institute are finding that the “koinonia” in the classroom is just not enough, and many are starving for more KI Fellowship.

So, this year we are seeking the Lord in regards to starting a regular weekly online broadcast, which we are tentatively calling The Koinonia International Fellowship.

One of our goals will be to include at least three segments into this weekly service: a Berean devotional, an Issachar Report and then get a glimpse of those who are “doing it” as we highlight a Koinonos practicum.

Again, just like back at the beginning we are praying for clarity, but as I reflect back, the words of Chuck Missler continue to ring in my ears “the church began in homes and may one day end in homes!”

What we are planning is the “next step” in creating an intentional online global Fellowship of like-minded Believers that are passionate about Discipleship!

As I am writing I hear the lyrics from a song from way back saying (or I guess praying) these words:

Bind us together, Lord bind us together with cords that cannot be broken! Bind us together, Lord bind us together with cords of love!

And as Solomon wrote:

Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:12

Please keep this endeavor in your prayers and keep your eyes open.


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