Social media and technology continue to represent an untapped opportunity for the Church to disseminate its message and disciple individuals. With that in mind, I am starting a series I call "A Theology of Technology" which will focus on excerpts from my book, Changing the Way We Do Church: 8 Steps to a Purposeful Reformation.
Here is the definition of technology I use throughout my book :
Technology is a body of knowledge devoted to creating tools, processing actions, and the extracting of materials. The term ‘technology’ is wide, and everyone has their way of understanding its meaning. We use technology to accomplish various tasks in our daily lives, in brief; we can describe technology as products and processes used to simplify our daily lives. We use technology to extend our abilities, making people the most crucial part of any technological system.
We tend to think of anything that was developed in our lifetime as technology but are not as apt to apply the label to something that existed before we were born. For example, we usually don't think of our refrigerator as technology but it is. In church, we don't think of the video projection during services as technology but we do categorize the iPhone as technology (although my five-year-old granddaughter will grow up not to think of it as such). The point is that at one time ink, paper, the Roman road and sea travel system, and the ships that carried Paul's letters were new technological inventions that eventually were taken for granted.
Is there a theology of technology, if I can label it that, that extends even to the use of social media? I believe there is, so let me present my case. You be the judge if it’s valid. Let's start by looking at some verses that speak to the issue of technology and how it fits in with the Church and its mission. We begin with a sub-category of technology and that is the written word.
- “Now write down this song and teach it to the Israelites and have them sing it, so that it may be a witness for me against them” – Deuteronomy 31:19.
God had Israel compose a song to remember, but in this case, the theme was to commemorate their unfaithfulness. We compose and write to help people remember God’s faithfulness, even when we are unfaithful to Him and His ways. The instruments we use to write, publish, broadcast, distribute, and watch all allow us to produce, store, and process what we or others write.
- “Appoint three men from each tribe. I will send them out to make a survey of the land and to write a description of it, according to the inheritance of each. Then they will return to me” – Joshua 18:4.
God asked the scouts to submit a report of what they saw in writing. I am not sure why He required it in writing, but perhaps it was so they could keep the vision alive of what God had promised them. The same holds true for us. We write and broadcast what we see in faith, which may be something that cannot be yet seen except through the eyes of faith. Then once it happens, we can look back and see how God led us along the way and was faithful to His word and promises.
- As the men started on their way to map out the land, Joshua instructed them, “Go and make a survey of the land and write a description of it.” – Joshua 18:8
It's interesting that the people could write at this early stage of history. This would have represented an early form of technology using papyrus and ink to record words that could be read and understood by others. And why did they write? Presumably so others could read what the spies had seen.
- “Go now, write it on a tablet for them ,inscribe it on a scroll, that for the days to come it may be an everlasting witness.” – Isaiah 30:8
We are not writing anything that compares to the inspired word of God, yet we should write down or send out what we believe God is showing us—about His word, His promises, our experiences, our creative interpretations of truth capable of communicating that truth and God’s beauty to others—all with a view toward providing a witness for future generations concerning God’s love and acts in every generation. Think of those who did this: John Wesley, St. Augustine, St. Thomas a Kempis, John Calvin, D. L. Moody, G. Campbell Morgan, and Martin Luther, and Martin Luther King Jr., just to name a few. Aren’t you glad that they didn’t simply rely on the spoken word but made the effort and invested the time to record what they heard and saw for us to consider and learn from today? Shouldn't we do the same?
We have plenty more to consider but this will suffice for this first entry in our Theology of Technology series. Stay tuned, there's more coming!
I am trying something new through my publishing company. I have an idea to publish poems, short stories, song lyrics, essays, or anything else that's publishable in my first annual collection. My thinking is that you or those you know may have pieces that are worthy of publishing but don't have enough to publish a book. This project will allow you to submit them to me and once they are accepted, they will be in a book in which your name and material will be included.
This is my first effort for something like this so here are the guidelines I have come up with so far:
Project: Solicit poems, song lyrics, essays of a non-offensive nature, and short stories from authors to publish in one anthology.
Deadline for author’s submission: May 1, 2021. All work is to be submitted as a Word document - no exceptions.
Procedure: Urban Press will screen, accept, edit, and publish submissions. Author’s will have final approval on any edits done before publishing.
Stipulation: Author gives Urban Press permission for one-time usage and unlimited print copies, but author maintains the copyright on their material (you will sign a contract). No royalties will be paid on any sales and all sales proceeds will benefit the Stanko Orphanage in Kenya. Authors will be given full disclosure on annual sales. Author’s bio and contact info will be included in the book. Authors will receive one free copy of the book with their work and an opportunity to buy additional copies at 60-70% off retail to be sold or given away at the author’s discretion.
Parameters: Poets may submit up to five poems; short stories are 2,500 words max
Publishing goal: October 31, 2021 (in time for Christmas)
There may be things I haven't thought of so feel free to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will try to answer them as best I can. Also, you can submit your work at any time to that email as well. Since I have no idea how many submissions I will receive, I reserve the right to adjust the deadline if I deem I have enough for volume one. Then we will begin work on volume two. The title of the book will be The Blue Guitar, which will be explained in the book's introduction. Don't delay, send me your work today!
My first trip to Kenya was in 1997 when I visited Pastor Don Matheny at Nairobi Lighthouse Church. I returned off and on for a few years and then didn't go for about four years until my now good friend, Kentice Tikolo, wrote me in 2003 asking me if I ever came to Kenya. She felt like Kenya needed the purpose message and she was opening the door to do what she could to facilitate a visit.
It worked out for me to return in 2004 and I have been going back every year, often making multiple visits. In 2008, the Lord spoke to me once when I was there that I was nothing but a "hired gun" and I knew exactly what He meant. I was touring and speaking while I was there but I was not really benefiting the people or building close relationships with those who had needs. I 2009, I brought a team over with me and this time the team did not just follow me around to hear me speak. We began to go out into the communities and I had those with me doing more. In 2010, I took another team and it was then that we formulated our strategy of building relationships with a few ministries with whom we felt the Lord join us and where we could make a difference. I knew that we could not help most of the people so why not concentrate on really helping a few.
My last trip on 2020 before the pandemic was to Kenya with another team but this one was different. The Lord was showing me that we needed to do some things differently and now that I have had a year to think about it, I am announcing a return to Kenya in February 2022 and I am inviting you to come along for a two-week tour that will change your life and the way you relate to poverty.
What will be different about 2022? For one thing, I hope we can dedicate the new Dr. Stanko Academy and Orphanage grounds and facilities while we are there. Then I plan on returning with the team to the Academy for consecutive days to build better relationships with the students, orphans, and staff. Then I hope to have some medical personnel along so that we can tend to the medical needs of the children, the staff, and their families. Then we will visit our partners in Bomet to do the same thing. Of course, there is always time for a safari when we go and that will continue in 2022.
I don't have the exact dates yet (I want to visit the country before I take a team to assess how things are), but I am thinking it will be the last two weeks of February. Right now, I am asking for you to let me know if you would like to go. That isn't a commitment and you don't have to pay anything right now, you just have to write and say, "I want to go to Kenya with you in 2022." Then as information becomes available, I will share it with you.
Right now, I already have 12 people who have said "I'm in." Why not add your name to their list and begin to prepare now for what's ahead. If you have any other questions, just write me at email@example.com and I will get right back to you. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it's that the world can change in a moment's notice. Don't put it off if it's in your heart to do. Faith would dictate that your faith action at this moment is to say, "By God's grace, I'm going." I look forward to hearing from you.
In 1994, I made my first trip to Israel as part of a team from Integrity Music by whom I was employed at the time. We were there to produce a worship recording but we also took the opportunity to do a nine-day tour under the leadership of Pastor Jack Hayford with 435 people. Pastor Jack has been to Israel more than 100 times so I learned from the best as I observed how and what he taught as we traveled the countryside. I was watching because the Lord spoke to me that I would one day be leading my own tours, which I am now doing.
I haven't been to Israel 100 times. I have been there 16 times (the picture to the right is my 2018 group) and I am returning in March 2022 so I am inviting you to come with me for the tour of a lifetime. The dates are March 29 to April 8 and I will also sponsor an optional after-trip to Jordan where we will take a bus from Israel across the border to visit Petra and other sites in that fascinating country. Along the way I will interject my own teaching and will lead morning devotions and Sunday worship, but we will have an Israeli guide to lead the tour for us. We stay in good hotels, have good guides and drivers, and will explore Galilee (where you can be baptized in the Jordan River), Jerusalem, and the Dead Sea area (the picture below shows people on my last tour floating in the Dead Sea). By now, I know where to take you to ensure you maximize your trip experience.
My friends at Inspiration Cruises and Tours are my company of choice to organize our trip and I am attaching the flier they have produced with all the information you will need to know and go. If you have any questions that are not answered on the brochure, then by all means call them or write me. We will also do some things during the next year to prepare you for the trip both spiritually and practically for your time in Israel—and hopefully Jordan.
If your desire has been to see the Holy Land, then I urge you to make plans now to come with us in 2022. Your trip will change the way you read the Bible and understand current events in the Middle East. And, we will have a lot of fun and fellowship along the way. Next year in Jerusalem!
Four times every year I send out a fundraising letter to my donor list of a few friends and ministry partners. This year, i thought I would share what I send with you so you know what I am up to and what the needs of my ministry are. Please enjoy the pictures, which have gotten a lot of feedback from those who have received them so far.
This is my first letter of the year and I hope it finds you well and prospering in the Lord. I continue to stay busy but before I tell you about that, I thought I would personalize this letter a bit more by showing you pictures of some of those you help through your generous gifts to my ministry. Let me explain what you see.
- The “Watercycle.” This motorcycle is used to transport water for 52 orphans from a well three miles away over treacherous, muddy, mountainous roads. The yellow cans are what the driver uses to carry the water. He does this all day every day so the children have water to drink and bath. We purchased this vehicle I have named the Watercycle for $1,200.
- The Faculty. I send the teachers $100 each per month. That is their income to live on. Classes are back in session and they are doing a fantastic job.
- The Young Ladies. Every month, we send $700 so 500+ young ladies can receive the sanitary products they need to stay in school. I received a communication this week asking if we can increase the money we send because the number of girls needing help has increased due to the pandemic (those students cannot go back to their boarding schools so are attending local schools).
- Staff, students, and orphans. There are 120 students attending the Stanko Academy and 20 of them are orphans. These orphans live at the school where their bunk beds are set up in the classrooms. I have included pictures of only two of the orphans with their names and ages: Joy (6) and Moses (11). We send food money every month.
Speaking of the Stanko Academy, I thank God that our campaign for the land purchase was a fabulous success. Our goal was $50,000 and it looks like we will have about $61,000 when all the pledges are paid. That’s good because the land will cost around $55,000 (we are still negotiating) and then we will have to fence it off and do some other land prep work. My thanks to you if you gave or prayed.
I hope to return to Kenya this year. I am also planning on taking a team over in February 2022 when we will follow a new format when we visit. This will include a medical team and much more concentrated daily effort at the Stanko Academy, which I hope we will be able to dedicate during that visit. I also plan on releasing my book with co-author Irene Mureithi on that trip. Let me know if you are interested in going with me in 2022.
My work continues to be non-stop as I make the most of my time at home. I feel like I have a full-time online flock as I write, counsel, coach, and pray for people who write me through my various social media platforms. I am teaching weekly online classes on creativity, purpose, the gospels, and Christian thought and I connect on a daily basis with people all over the world. I have produced 100 blog radio shows and 150 Facebook Live sessions during the pandemic and the ministry feedback has been gratifying.
Right now, I am also working on books for authors in Australia, South Africa, the UK, and Kenya—as well as many in the U.S. Some can pay something, others can pay nothing, but that is not the basis I use to decide with whom I work. That is up to the Lord’s direction and it is always fascinating how He shows me who my partners are to be.
I have only included pictures of a few of our ministry partners, but rest assured there are many more who throughout the month benefit from your generosity. You are truly helping to feed and clothe the hungry and the poor. If your heart is moved by what you read or see, you can give online at my website or mail your check payable to PurposeQuest International, P.O. Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA, 15221-0882. PQI is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization so your contribution is tax-deductible. You can also give through my mobile app, the Cash App, PayPal, Venmo, or Zelle.
This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:12-15).
I know the orphans and their caretakers will thank God for your generous support, and it is a special thing to be commended to God by those who have nothing with which to repay your generosity except with their prayers and thanks to Him. I urge you to be generous in your giving and I promise to be a good steward of your resources and the opportunities before us. May God richly bless you and our Kenya partners.
Yours in the faith,
Dr. John W. Stanko
Here are some notes from a study I did on the concept of writing and creating in the Bible. For some I added comments, for others I did not. I present these as an encouragement and instruction for those who write or those thinking about writing more as your ministry. Feel free to comment or add to this list where this entry is posted.
- “Now write down this song and teach it to the Israelites and have them sing it, so that it may be a witness for me against them” – Deuteronomy 31:19. – God had Israel compose a song to remember, but in this case, it was to commemorate their unfaithfulness. We compose and write to help people remember, including ourselves, about God’s faithfulness, even when we are unfaithful to Him and His ways.
- Appoint three men from each tribe. I will send them out to make a survey of the land and to write a description of it, according to the inheritance of each. Then they will return to me. - Joshua 18:4. God asked the scouts to submit a report of what they saw in writing. I am not sure why he required it in writing, but perhaps so they could keep the vision alive of what God had promised them. We write what we see in faith and that may be something that cannot be seen yet without faith.
- As the men started on their way to map out the land, Joshua instructed them, “Go and make a survey of the land and write a description of it” – Joshua 18:8. Notice that the men could write at this early stage of history.
- Go now, write it on a tablet for them, inscribe it on a scroll, that for the days to come it may be an everlasting witness” – Isaiah 30:8. We are not writing anything that compares to the inspired word of God, yet we do want to write down what we believe God is showing us – about His word, His promises, my experiences, my creative expressions – all with a view toward providing a witness for future generations about God’s love and acts in my generation. Think of those who did this – Wesley, Augustine, Thomas a Kempis, John Calvin, D. L. Moody, A. B. Simpson, G. Campbell Morgan
- “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Write in a book all the words I have spoken to you” – Jeremiah 30:2
- “Take a scroll and write on it all the words I have spoken to you concerning Israel, Judah and all the other nations from the time I began speaking to you in the reign of Josiah till now” - Jeremiah 36:2.
- “Take another scroll and write on it all the words that were on the first scroll, which Jehoiakim king of Judah burned up” – Jeremiah 36:28.
- “My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer” – Psalm 45:1.
- “Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—those he redeemed from the hand of the foe” – Psalm 107:2.
- “One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts. They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—and I will meditate on your wonderful works. They tell of the power of your awesome works—and I will proclaim your great deeds. They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness” – Psalm 145:4-7.
- “What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs” – Matthew 10:27.
- “With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus” – Luke 1:3. Notice that Luke did not claim that the Lord directed him to write; it was a natural decision based on the request from Theophilus for more information about the life and times of Jesus.
- “Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you.” – Philippians 3:1. Don’t wait until you have a thought or idea that no one else in the universe has ever had. Don’t be concerned that you are writing something that has already been said or written by someone else. There is nothing new under the sun.
- “Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking.” – 2 Peter 3:1
- “We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make our joy complete.” – 1 John 1:3-4.
- “I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth” – 1 John 2:21.
- “They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death” – Revelation 12:11.