In this post I would like to talk about an alternative model to the high priced regionally accredited seminaries model we find dotting the globe today, one that can provide you an even better biblical education for little to no money at all.
For awhile now I’ve been taking courses at the Koinonia Institute. It was a “learning center” started by Chuck Missler in the hay-day of K-House, the ministry that supports KI. Now that I’ve been enrolled for awhile (and have been using Missler materials for years) I can attest to the quality of the lectures as well as much of the doctrinal foundation on which it rests.
So, let’s jump in and find out how KI can serve as an alternative to the traditional seminary education….
Koinonia Institute was started by Chuck Missler and K-House back when cultural Christianity was going strong and could do no wrong back in the 1990’s. Before that K-House focused on a weekly and monthly tape ministry (which is how I was introduced to Dr. Missler’s teachings). Those same materials, often now updated, are the backbone of the Koinonia Institute, along with an online LMS, discussion questions, course lecture quizzes, and student advisors (and student interaction).
The program used to include volunteer positions as Research Candidates and more in-depth positions, though it is unclear if this ever actually got off the ground. As I understand it (I could be wrong, this is before my time) the KI LMS was a happening place back in the 90’s, with live online classes, with a large global student body fighting for places in full classes, etc. Then the leadership at K-House decided that the KI system was not producing people active in ministry but was rather self-propagating itself as the reason for the program (rather than developing people for ministry). I’m not certain this is the primary reason for the changes, but several years ago, KI made a transition to all-free membership (used to be $99 / year) and they reorganized their courses. Self-study became the main focus (no more live classes apparently) and new courses lacked quizzes or discussion questions or advanced candidate research projects. Instead the assessment portion consisted of a kind of free-flow writing format, writing what you already know about the subject, what you want to learn about the subject, and what you actually learned about the subject once you complete the lectures.
Either after this change or because of K-House’ move out of the US (or both), the number of students apparently dropped precipitiously. Now the KI LMS is a kind of ghost town with a remnant of students they used to have. All of this, of course, happened before I started KI officially. Like I said above, I was first introduced to Dr. Missler’s materials back around 1995 while stationed overseas and an elder in the church I was baptized at would share his weekly tapes with me. It was only after the KI membership fee was changed to free that I immediately signed up and started courses.
All this above is not to say that the KI system is not a bad one. In fact, though I never actually experienced or participated in the previous “more active” setup, I think this is a much better format, at least for me. I have no interest in following a timeline. Perfect example, I’ve been doing the Revelation course the last few weeks, but now I’m on the last two lectures and I decided at the last minute to take the week off (and work on podcast scripts). I could not do this if the courses were on a calendar and required live interaction with other students.
I personally really appreciate Missler’s teaching/communication style. I can’t say I agree with all of his assumptions or conclusions, but he would be the first to say we need to do our own research and come to our own understanding of the subject matter. In fact, some of Missler’s theories I’ve found to be completely and utterly incorrect (i.e. Torah codes in the OT).
But, despite this issue (that we all have at one time or another), Dr. Missler’s teaching content is often quite biblically sound and is one of the few I’ve found that incorporates the whole of knowledge (theology, science, technology) rather than avoiding certain aspects of reality and compartmentalizing the Scriptures from the rest of the world.
It’s actually a pretty simple structure that operates the institute. A LMS. Lecture series. Discussion Questions. Tests. There are three levels Bronze, Silver, and Gold as well as three tracks, Berean, Issachar, and Koinonos, though I think the latter two are in re-development.
The Costs of KI
There are some costs to the Institute but not much (if you do it right) and not nearly what traditional or “accredited” seminaries cost today with their obscene tuition rates.
There is no cost to become a member of KI or to make use of its LMS. But that is pretty worthless in and of itself as you need the curriculum to go along with it. This is where the cost resides (and is, of course, the business model). For the entire commentary series on digital audio download (OT/NT) it would cost you about $500. If you wanted the video it would be double that.
But, there is a better, more cost effective way to access all the materials including all of the topical materials as well. It is with the streaming subscription. This provides you with digital streaming access to all the material in their library for $10 / month. You can also subtract several of the commentary sets off the list because K-House makes them available on Youtube for free.
Best tactic would be (which is what I do) start with the courses that are available for free online. Once all these are complete then do a subscription, completing as many as possible in the shortest time possible. But, really, who cannot afford $10 / month for 2 years to finish all the courses in leisure?
The Problems with KI
There are a few issues that I have with KI that I wish could be rectified. First, I do wish they would develop their more advanced programs or positions or create a program for research projects or offer internships or provide for theologians in residence as other non-profits or think tanks or ministries do. I do understand why they would not want to hassle with the public directly, as they can be a real difficult bunch. In my experience, opening up programs like this often draw the lowest common denominator and much of the populous are really quite unstable. Having such programs would be a difficult challenge, and Dr. Missler’s dream of being able to produce relevant documents like a political think tank but from a Christian perspective will never happen. The world does not care what Christians think. In fact, most professional clergy have no concern at all what researchers or academics or interns from an unaccredited think tank think. They’re too busy lining their pockets as they fill their church coffers.
Personally, I don’t really need KI to officially acknowledge my “internship” or my “post-docs” research at their Institute. I volunteer there at a Student Assistant. I conduct my own research. I take advantage of the curriculum and courses they offer. It is the same thing minus the formal recognition, and what purpose would that serve anyway?
I plan to remain enrolled at KI until I finish their program. Then I will be moving my focus to finish my uThM and I should be well into my own independent research at that point. I plan to get the absolute most out of my time and effort while I’m there. I really can’t think of a better place I would like to spend my time.
So, that is my review of the Koinonia Institute and what they offer and what the costs are and why you might be interested in attending yourself. These kinds of organizations and programs come and go rather quickly in the Christian community, mostly because there are little funds for such things and even less interest from the community at large. The numbers I saw on even the KI program, there have only been a few thousand to complete the first level, a few hundred to finish the second, and only a few individuals have completed the third.
I plan to add myself to the last group within a few years.
Until my next post….
Excerpt from The Light Aurora:
The door’s lock released and Dr. Lewis looked around at each of them.
“Stay close, and be ready for anything. I’m not sure if they’re all in the Command Center or if they are trying to secure Level 4. Hell, they could all be evacuating.”
He stared at Scott as he came up onto the landing.
“Let’s go,” Scott said.
Dr. Lewis pushed the door open and walked out into the hall, followed by the others – in ones and twos. Level 2 was similar to the other level, with a long corridor, doors on either side, all with security displays recessed into the wall next to them.
But, as they entered the corridor, Scott’s breath caught in his throat. As he stood there with the others, he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. In front of them, probably no more than a few yards away, were three bodies lying on the floor. One was sitting up against the wall, the side of his face melted, exposing his right eyeball and a good portion of his right skull. Another one was laying face down, his entire back opened up at the spine, as if his spinal cord had been ripped out of him from behind. The last one was a few more feet away from the others, on his back, his eyes seared from his head, black, burnt flesh where his eyes used to be.
The intercom came back to crackling life.
“Professor?” Derrick said over the intercom.
“Don’t worry. You can answer,” he said. “I can hear you.”
Scott looked up, then fixed his gaze on the security camera at the end of the corridor.
“Yes?” Scott finally asked.
There was a pause, static.
“What are you doing, Derrick?” he asked. “Did you do this?”
“Indeed,” Derrick said, coming back on.
“They refused to help me.”
“What are you trying to do, Derrick?” Scott asked.
There was another pause.
“I want to go home, Professor,” the boy said.
“Yes,” Derrick said, his tone soaked with some other-worldly confidence that did not belong in an innocent, ten year old boy.
“I want to go home, Professor,” he said again. “Would you be interested in coming home with me?”
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But, trust me when I say, reading this book will change your life forever.