Letter from Joseph Tkach — August 2013

Posted by colin on August 9, 2013 under Pastor General's Monthly Letter | Comments are off for this article

 

August 2013
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I admit to being somewhat of a techno junkie in that it seems I live on my computer, I use my smartphone several times a day and I am on the Internet constantly looking things up – researching ideas and reading the news.

I am fascinated by the idea behind much of the technology of cell phones, email and the Internet. That idea, of course, was to find better ways for people to connect with each other. There are several social media sites designed specifically to connect people with old friends from school, extended family members and/or to find someone to spend the rest of your life with. Some even brag about the hundreds of friends they have on Facebook or other social media sites.

While the idea is intriguing, the reality is much different. Most of us have seen groups of teenagers, couples or even families sitting in a restaurant, playing with electronic devices and not talking. We often see people walking and paying more attention to their cell phones rather than their surroundings.

Technology that is designed to connect us and bring us closer can often distract us from developing real relationships. Cell phones, which were originally designed to help people reach friends, family and business associates more easily, have now become smartphones. They can be used for watching movies, playing games, searching the Internet, listening to music, viewing pictures and updating social media sites in addition to making phone calls. Employers often complain about how much time their employees spend on the Internet rather than working. All this available technology can easily distract us from developing deep and real connections with each other and with God, but that certainly doesn’t make technology bad.

Technology is here to stay, so we’ve made it our goal to use it effectively. One way is through our website (www.gci.org). Our efforts through this online resource strive to connect people to God and to each other, and it appears to be working quite well. At this very moment, while you’re reading this sentence, we have more than 35 people accessing our website. Over 125,000 people use it each month!

In the US, we recently hired Dustin Lampe, a new pastor who became interested in joining GCI after visiting our website, reading articles, listening to interviews and researching our theology. Dustin, who now serves as Associate Pastor in Cincinnati, Ohio, attended Friends Seminary in Kansas and graduated with a master’s degree last December. His professors often used our “You’re Included” video interviews from our website as teaching tools. Dustin says he spent a lot of time on our website and through that, he became very excited about Trinitarian theology and what the church was doing because of it. He dreamed of serving as one of our pastors, and that dream has now become a reality.

Internationally, the story is even more exciting. A pastor in Myanmar (Burma) recently wrote asking to join GCI. “We have learned about your church and ministries, and so we are very, very interested in it. We humbly request to affiliate with your church and work together in Myanmar.” A ministry couple in Croatia has sent us a similar request and we are looking forward to seeing how this relationship will develop.

In Guyana, our Speaking of Life video series has been playing once each week on a local TV station since the first week in December 2012. Our ministry leader in Guyana said, “The girl at the TV station asked me to tell Mr. Tkach hello.” They enjoy the short, to-the-point programs.

Our website has the largest collection of incarnational Trinitarian lectures and presentations in the world. This has proven to be an excellent library resource for use by many seminaries, including our own Grace Communion Seminary. Our learning institution can serve those who wish to pursue a master’s degree in pastoral studies through online courses; making it easy to attend classes from anywhere.

We’ve recently put our denominational magazine, Christian Odyssey, online. This enables us to provide our publication to a readership we hadn’t reached previously. Christian Odyssey is in “the cloud,” enabling it to be downloaded on Kindle, iPad and most e-readers, as well as smartphones. Check it out at www.christianodyssey.org.

We praise God that our website and online resources are being used in many different ways to connect people to him and to each other. We also thank God that technology makes it possible to reach people all over the world, through the Internet, and the many resources we have available on our website. And we especially give God praise for you. Your donations make it possible for us to provide this connection to God for thousands of people around the world.

Please join me in praying that God continues to guide us in using technology for his glory, as we continue to follow our mission of living and sharing the gospel.Your brother in Christ,

Joseph Tkach President – Grace Communion International

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