Looking Back and Dreaming BIG About What's Aheadby Dan Stolebarger Director of Koinonia Institute
What a difference half a year makes. Koinonia Institute has arrived and school is in! Hopefully you saw our ''KI Baby Announcement'' in last month's Personal UPDATE wrap.
As I look in my rearview mirror, I would like to reflect and report on two of our ''watershed moments'' - the creation of our Online Courses and our Small Group Leadership Roundtable Conclaves.
First, our Online Courses: The first thing I noticed when I sat down at my desk during my first week of work was that we were not getting a lot of our ''Self Study'' students finishing their course work. We all know what it is like to have great intentions, but the issue always has to do with finishing! It was apparent that the materials were attractive, but how could we assist our hard-working, busy students finish the courses they started?
The solution? We came up with an online format that would be a helpful ''goad'' for the student who needed that weekly encouragement. Over the past four months we have beta tested three separate online courses: Prophecy 101, The Book of Daniel and Learn the Bible in 24 Hours -OT Survey. At this time let me thank all of you who have been a part of this project - you were great - both your work and your patience! And now because of your participation we are confident that the 2006 version of our Online Courses will be a hit! In January 2006 we launched five online classes!
All of our classes are available at any time as self-study and you can keep updated on our future online offerings at our new website: studycenter.com. Needless to say, we are excited about this new venture! Our goal is to assist ''everyday'' people with a strong Biblical education that has a prophetic edge. I hope you check out this new format and give one of our classes a try. As the Psalmist wrote, ''just taste and see'' and we think that not only will you find ''that the Lord is good'' but hopefully also our KI online courses. I hope to see you online soon!
Also in 2005, Koinonia Institute created and hosted Conclaves I and II of what we call our Small Group Roundtables. The first one was held here in Post Falls, Idaho, and the second we took on the road to Dallas, Texas.
Both Conclaves were amazing, and God confirmed to us that He is in the process of putting new wine into new wineskins, and these are a part of it. We experienced God in a unique and dramatic way, and it was very apparent to us that these Conclaves were not a product of our ''planning.'' We are hosting our third Conclave back here in Post Falls February 24-25. Pray about joining us. For more information, see here.
As we look back, we are cautioned to ''remember the Lord'' and we hang on to the promise that He who started a good work will complete it in Christ Jesus. It is a privilege to be partnered with Christ, because it is His work and we are, incredibly, His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works! Words cannot express my joy in being called to this work by God Himself!
The value of looking back allows us to establish patterns (the upside of tradition) in order that we do not ''remove the ancient landmarks,'' as well as to see Gods handprints and to give Him the praise. But there is a danger in ''resting'' and simply living in the past. It is like eating old manna - God intends for us to live in the moment (remember, only gather enough manna for the day). Too often when we are asked, ''So, what is God doing in your life today?'' we go to the library of our minds and pull out an old jar of manna to share (do I need to remind you what happened to old manna?).
Enough of the past; its time to look ahead and dream! Remember the Proverb that puts the truth so simply: ''Without a vision (dream) the people perish!'' It is important to allow the Holy Spirit to be part of the process - we need to see the future through His eyes and always remember (Ive read the end of the Book) we win! The devil will major in discouragement and he will always tell you what you cant do; contrary to the Holy Spirit, who will be the ''lifter of your head'' and will be the encourager that is always telling you,''You can do it!'' Isnt it time to raise the bar spiritually in our lives? Lets get out of the muck and mire and start rolling! A word to the wise - let Him drive, but fasten your seatbelt!
So, whats ahead for the Institute? First, we want to increase our student base, both for those who want to take advantage of our great relationship with Louisiana Baptist University and for those who want to be a part of the stand-alone Koinonia Institute Certificate Program. We want to assist folks who desire to achieve anything from their Bachelors, Masters and PhDs to partner with us and then move on to LBU. We also pray that God will use us to raise up BEREANS and Sons of ISSACHAR! And as the time moves on, to then establish KOINONOS with like-minded brothers and sisters worldwide.
How do we plan to do this? By using the ''pattern'' that the Holy Spirit has given us. We will continue to add to our course list at Koinonia Institute. We also are hoping to broaden our ''footprint'' by bringing in outside professors and use them to produce new course material, as well as making our way through the K-House library to create new courses. In fact, plans are in place to do both of these things in upcoming months! (A word to the wise: Proverbs is coming and that is one class youll want to take!)
I am also excited to announce our KI ''Term Paper'' contest for the best position paper on one of the Strategic Trends (ISSACHAR track). The deadline is March 31, 2006 and first prize is $1000 cash plus 6 credit hours at either LBU or KI. All acceptable entries will receive grades and transcript credit for Prophecy 501. The only prerequisite for this contest is to be a KI student and enrollment or prior credit in Prophecy 101. Visitstudycenter.com for details on the contest and enrollment!
Also in March, Koinonia Institute will be hosting (and filming) The Temple Conference in Jerusalem. As a part of Chuck and Nancy Misslers Tour, we are offering a six-unit KI course on Israel. Needless to say, with all that is going on in Israel currently, this will be a very interesting time to be in the Holy Land. KI will also be putting together a different kind of Israel Experience for those who are ready for their return visit; a trip that will be more ''experiential'' and not necessarily stopping at all the traditional sites that a first-trip experience has to include. We will be doing the research in March and then look towards September to offer a smaller trip for those who want to experience the Land. Ideas include an evening visit to Gethsemane, possibly fishing the Galilee or rafting the Jordan, dinner in the Negev with the Bedouin, etc. Remember what I said about dreaming! Stay tuned, because this dream will become a reality - I am passionate about it! I know what happens to people who visit Israel - theyre never the same! By the way, when are you going?
And now the climax - the grand conclusion!
When I stand back and look at what God is doing and when I am asked the ''so what'' question, I begin to paint the picture as to why we are here. We truly believe that Small Groups are the best place for discipleship to take place; we believe that the Church started in homes and will end in homes.
We have a God-given passion to equip everyman (not just the so-called professionals); the mission statement of KI is to turn Believers into Bereans! We want to assist in the formation of worldwide small groups that we can be affiliated with. We see KI-affiliated small groups meeting in living rooms, coffeehouses, even around campfires in remote villages, and we see this as a worldwide event. (Here I go dreaming again!)
How are we going to do all of this? Well, I am not 100% sure, but this I know - we are going to continue our Small Group Roundtables. We will host a few a year but we also plan to take them on the road. (Some upcoming sites could possibly include: St. Petersburg, FL; San Diego, CA; Salt Lake City, UT; Denver, CO; Appleton, WI; Orange County, CA; Fresno, CA; Indianapolis, IN; and Dallas, TX" and who knows, maybe a European Conclave.) Whatever the case, stay tuned! We want to partner with you! We want you as a part of our KI family.
At our KI website (studycenter.com) we will keep you updated on all our KI and LBU courses, upcoming Roundtables, and our Holy Land Experience. Please remember us in your prayers - and, by the way, isnt it exciting to be a Christian in the days in which we live?