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        We Measure What We Value

        I have written lately that we need to change the way we do church, which is the title of a book I am revising to re-release this year. Part of the change is to stop measuring what we normally measure, which has been attendance and the offering total. I had an associate write and ask for clarification on this, and this is what I wrote him today:

        *****

        You had made a comment about more writing about what we should measure if not money and attendance. Here are today's thoughts from Seth Godin:

        Don’t steal metrics

        A thoughtful friend has a new project, and decided to integrate a podcast into it.

        Talking to a producer, he said that his goal was to make it a “top 10 podcast on iTunes.”

        Why is that the goal?

        That’s a common goal, a popular goal, someone else’s goal.

        The compromises necessary to make it that popular (in dumbing down the content, sensationalizing it, hunting down sort-of-famous guests and doing a ton of promo) all fly in the face of what the project is for.

        It’s your project.

        It’s worth finding your metrics.

        A church will measure what is important to it, so the key is first to identify what is important and then find a way to measure it such as kids returning a second week after visiting once, number of "Amens" during a message (a form of feedback; the Cleveland Orchestra measures standing ovations), the number of givers instead of the offering amount, how many more people gave to missions this year over last year, etc. This is hard work, and sometimes almost impossible to measure, but we must try and then allow our metrics to shift and morph over time.

        The old standard of behinds in the seats and dollars in the offering tells us something about what we value. When we change our values, God will then help us find ways to measure what is important to us instead of spinning results to convince ourselves things are not as bad as they really are. We need to change the way we do church!


        One Final Thank You

        Here is one final thank you from our year-end efforts to help our orphans, this time with their school fees. Here is a note from our friend and caregiver Alice (along with a picture of four of our orphans while on Christmas break at home with Alice):

        Dear John,

        A quick one to thank you very much on behalf of the children for school fees received.
         
        A total of Kshs 278,229 was received in the following batches: 69,601 × 3 and 69,426.
         
        Do pass our sincere appreciation to all those who have come together to see these children in school.
         
        May the hands that have opened to give receive plenty of blessings.
         
        Warm regards.
         
        Alice
         
        The children have ongoing needs. They are growing so they need clothes. As all children, they need to eat every day. Soon their school fees will be due again. I need you to join the ranks of the faithful supporters that make possible how we bless these children. Can you give toward their needs either through my website or by sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882? Thank you and may God bless the children as they start another school term.

        A New Year for Our Orphans

        Happy New Year! I hope your holidays were good ones and that you found time to relax and enjoy God's goodness at this time of year. Now it is time to resume our normal rhythm and routine of life, and the same is true for the orphans we help care for in Kenya. I will be going over with a group of 21 people in February and will show them firsthand what we are doing there, but here is a report from Alice, who tends for the children (who are becoming young adults) at Each One Touch One Orphanage (the picture is of Phyllis and Gladwell as they head off to school this term). The reason the children look so good is because of Alice's tender care, and we shudder to think where the children would be without her:

        Dear brother John,

        We wish to take this opportunity to wish you and your family a Happy New Year.
         
        We want to thank you for being there for us when we needed someone to uplift us. You have provided for us with a smile. You have striven to make our lives better and easier than you found us. You have wisely used the talents God gave to you to ensure that EOTOO children have eaten, are well clothed  and attend better schools in the hope of giving them a better tomorrow. The lives of our children turned around for the better when you showed up in their lives. Those that have matured through your care have seen Nuru now working as a sales lady, Tobias is ready to join a technical college this year to do a course in electrical engineering. Gaudencia has just completed her fourth form and the majority of the other children are in high school. It was the will of God that this change in the children come through you. It is not a mean feat and yet John, you still have a smile on your face
         
        We take this opportunity together with the EOTOO children to wish you and your family God given health, love, peace and tranquility in the new year and and in all the days to come. We do extent the same wishes for our many friends whom we have met through you and wish all of them God's blessings.
         
        This message comes to you from Alice,  the EOTOO team and all the children with lots of love.  With specific love from Phyllis, Gladwell, Elizabeth, Deborah and Obed who are here with me waiting to start a new term in their various schools on the 3rd of Jan.
         
        I sent over money for school fees for the children mentioned above, as well as a gift for their Christmas celebration. The problem is that the children have ongoing needs. They are growing so they need clothes. As all children, they need to eat every day. Soon their school fees will be due again. While my name is mentioned above, I have always made it known that I cannot do and have not done alone what Alice describes above. I have had the help of many faithful givers, but I need you to join their ranks. Can you give toward their needs either through my website or by sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882? Thank you and may God bless the children as they start another school term.

        Achieving Greatness

        Someone just wrote me to ask, What  must I do to achieve greatness? Here was my response:

        develop yourself to be able to handle what you will need to do to achieve it = effective time management; find a message and learn how to deliver it; don't be limited to only Christian mentors/teachers; determine that your greatness will be to serve the needs of others and not your own.

        Then he wrote back: Kindly explain this "develop yourself to be able to handle what you will need to do to achieve it"

        I wrote back:

        education/self-discipline/ongoing learning/grow in your capacity to handle more responsibility
         
        never rely on your title or what you have done in the past; don't insist that people honor or recognize you; be content to influence and not control people
         
        I finished with the passage from Philippians 2:19-23 in which Paul described what made Timothy great:

        But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus. But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel. Therefore I hope to send him at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me.

        I asked the writer,  "Paul only saw one who did in his lifetime; can you be the one that others discover in theirs?"
         
        The same question applies to you

         

         

         

         


        My 2019 Writing Goals

        I share all my writing goals below so you understand how I structure my goals and work to be fruitful and productive; what can you add to help our readers set their own goals and be more fruitful?

        1. New Year's morning, the first thing I did was edit my daily devotional (today from my book A Daily Taste of Proverbs); then I copied and pasted it to Facebook; then I posted it to LinkedIn and Twitter; I do that Monday through Friday and draw material from five of my daily devotionals. It helps me to jump start my writing day and keeps me in touch with my followers all over the world.
        2. On New Year's Eve, I set up my manuscript for my Corinthians commentary (written and 115k words); I will edit that in January and have it ready to publish in March (It would be February, but I am going to Kenya in February).
        3. On New Year's, I began editing my next book (my 'Go and' series from the Monday Memo) titled 'Go and Obey'; my goal is to have it finished in January for publication in March/April.
        4. This week, I will sketch out my revisions for my 2009 book "Changing the Way We Do Church" I will start to edit and write new material in January, but most probably won't get much into that until late Feb/early March.
        5. After I finish Corinthians, I have three more volumes of my New Testament commentaries (written but need to be edited), which will be done, with God's help, by Dec 31, 2019; here is the link for the commentaries that are complete (Romans is done but in final stages of publishing).
        6. Someone gave me the idea this past week for a book I will title "Put Me in, Coach!" That is on the horizon for 2019.

        What are your goals this year that will enable you to activate, stimulate, and rejuvenate your creativity?


        Facebook Revival

        Last Friday, I began posting statements and sayings on Facebook I have used in my purpose coaching and teaching over the years. Immediately, I sensed something was up. The response was quick and enthusiastic, so I posted another and then another, and before I was finished, I had posted roughly 100 sayings that are still receiving feedback, likes, shares, and questions. I thought I would share some of the way forward now that this online revival of sorts has finished while the effects are felt for some time to come.

        1. The most popular post of all my quotes was this one: "Stop waiting for your church to recognize you; recognize yourself and then do what God wants you to do." Let me explain. I have found that many people are expecting their church to recognize their gifts and then find a way for those gifts to be expressed. This does happen but it's rare. There is only one pulpit and 52 Sundays every year to give a public platform to the gifts. What's more, often people's gifts are not consistent with a modern worship structure. One man I knew one time had a purpose to minister to the military. Most churches don't know what to do with that, so I advised him to start his own outreach ministry to the military, which he did.

        Rather than being angry at the church or going to another church, I advise you to pray and be creative to find ministry expressions that don't depend on your church's programs or leadership preferences. If you have a ministry to child, buy a rocking chair, take it with you, and go rock children in a hospital ward. I just counseled a woman who was gifted musically to schedule three concerts over the holiday season. She did and I think one of them was at a family gathering. Her assignment for January is to write a song, then record it on YouTube. My point is that you cannot and should not allow your purpose, creativity, or gift to languish if others don't see it for what it is or what it can be.

        2. The second most popular post was "By the authority vested in me, I give you permission to be a person of purpose in 2019. You may kiss your purpose." This is obviously a tongue-in-cheek adaptation from the standard wedding vows at a Christian wedding. I have found that I often have to give people permission to be who they are. Everyone wants to be normal but in reality, no one is "normal." Our purpose makes us abnormal, but we often hide who we are so we can act more like what we have been taught normal is. You don't need anyone's permission to be you, but when you are hiding who you are in fear, it sometimes helps for someone like me to say, "Go ahead, sing, dance, write, teach, build and do it the way you want it done. It's okay and it's God's will."

        3. The third most popular was "Be you - everyone else is already taken." This brings us back to the normal issue. When we see someone else serving the Lord, we can think that we should be more like that person. We admire their gifts and want them, even covet them. I urge you to be who God made you to be, and there has never been anyone like you in the world. Stop trying or pretending to be someone else. If you like pizza for breakfast, eat it (not particularly healthy, but you get my point). If you like the color purple, then decorate in purple (mine is orange, but men don't wear orange, but I started to wear orange). I may emulate what I admire in someone else, but I am going to assimilate that into my personality and gifts. I want to be me and God wants that too.

        4. The fourth post was "I no longer put my faith in my ability to hear the Lord; I put my faith in God's ability to speak to me." My experience has shown me that we have been taught not to "miss the Lord," so we agonize over the guidance process and wait for endless confirmations before we may then venture out. God is with us, not against us. He is not trying to trick us. I can honestly say I have never heard that the Lord wanted me to write any of my 40 books (perhaps that is reflected in the sales!). I had an idea and I trusted that I had the mind of Christ on the matter and proceeded. Now if you have written 41 books, I will listen to your advice of how to hear from the Lord, but if you have thought about writing for ten years, had three prophets confirm you were supposed to do it, and still haven't written anything, I won't be accepting your advice on how to hear and follow through any time soon. God is a great communicator and James was clear: If we ask for wisdom and don't doubt, we will receive it. We tell people to go for it, but be careful. That grooves fear into their mind, so they wait and tarry and delay.

        There is a lot more I could write, but I have probably already written or talked about it someplace. Check out my website, my Vimeo video channel, my Monday Memo blog, my personal blog, my Twitter account (@johnstanko) or my LinkedIn page and you will find a ton of stuff that relates to what I wrote about on Facebook this past weekend. As you approach 2019, I encourage you not to set your goal to go to the moon if you haven't been out of your home town, for you are just setting yourself up for failure. Don't set a goal to write a 900 page novel if you can't be consistent with your journal. Build your faith muscles in 2019 by going a bit farther than you have gone before. Share your testimony on Facebook when you do and then set a goal to go a little farther.

        If I can help you, let me know, but in the meantime, have a blessed, purposeful and Happy New Year! May this be the year of purpose for you.


        An Orphan's Christmas Party

        As you know, I was able to send money to our partners in Kenya to help the orphans and children celebrate Christmas. In Kenya, it is not a time for massive decorations and trees surrounded with gifts. It is a time when the children receive some new clothes, shoes, and some Christmas treats. Here is a report with some pictures from one of our partners reporting on how they used some of their money:

        Dr. J, 

        We are too excited that we could not wait for 25th to celebrate Christmas. Our Christmas has come earlier and we are already praising and praying. A lot of thanks from the teachers and the children. At least a new outfit and new shoes as the tradition is here during Christmas. The clothes goes beyond the Christmas festivities thus we will remember for a long time. The nice food prepared for the children by their teachers led by Madam Lilian tastes yummy for real. 
         
        Now the children sent a very big thank you to you and every hand involved in making them happy and cared for. We got clothes, shoes and food and we are very grateful to you and team for the continued support. I really know what this means to us and the children. They feel good even better than others with their parents around. It is my prayer that you continue doing this for the orphans every year as you used to do. 
         
        Tell your friends to continue praying and supporting these little orphans for the heaven rejoices when they are cared for.  Your son John Stanko has made sure that needy teenage girls who are going to school receive sanitary towels and health care every month. In this project he supports over 500 in Kenya through WEEP-Upako managed by Belver. May God give him strength and resources to help more. I also want to thank you for for supporting the orphans education by providing fees and teachers support. 
         
        We wish you a merry Christmas and prosperous new year 2019. Looking forward to setting our eyes on you in February. We have 3 orphans who passed very well and needs help with school fees. 
         
        Pastor Francis 
         
        The problem is that these children need to eat and their shoes will wear out. I need your help to help them not just at Christmas but all year round. Please make a donation toward their needs Donate to the Orphans' Fund or by sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. Thank you and Happy New Year from my household to yours.

        Thank You and Merry Christmas from the Orphans

        Thanks to you, I was able to raise more than $3,000 for the Give a Kid a Christmas Campaign. I sent the money over right away and here are two thank yous I received, with a promise of pictures after Christmas. This one is from Pastor David (pictured right):

        Brother Stanko - on behalf of all our lovely children, my family and the staff, I have to say thank you. Surely for the last two days I had missed words of thanking God and you for serving together here in Kenya. Though far away you and your friends have become a big blessing by supporting us in our ministry here at Kenduiwo Children's Home. We received your double blessings.

        I am writing from Mulot open air market biggest here in our county of Bomet where I took my wife Sarah, matron, and two other ladies to confidently do shopping for our kids. Surely our God does not leave his people to be ashamed.

        Once again thank you. Let me continue waiting for them here in the vehicle since I am not good in shopping as they are. God bless you - Pastor David

        The second one is from Pastor Francis:

        Dr J - Thank you so much for the Christmas gift. We are shopping for new outfits for the orphans and they will shine like the rest of the children in this community on the Christmas day and beyond. We are very grateful. Will report back after Christmas - Pastor Francis

        I appreciate your support and help to provide a holiday celebration for the children. I love what Pastor David wrote: "Surely our God does not leave his people to be ashamed."

        Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Stanko household and from all our orphans in Kenya.


        Give a Kid a Christmas

        Last Christmas Day, I received a text from one of our orphanage managers in Kenya that read: Dear Dr. John – It is Christmas and we have nothing for the children. Can you help?

        I usually send money, but last year I was saving my resources to ship the book container so I had not forwarded my usual Christmas blessing. After I received the text, I immediately borrowed $300 and wired it over so  the day after Christmas there was a holiday for the 20 orphans at that orphanage. I was unable to help the others I had helped in the past.

        Christmas in Kenya is not a time for toys and decorations. The custom is for the children to receive new shoes, a set of clothes, and a Christmas meal. This year, I want to prepare in advance so there are no Christmas Day emergency texts.

        For only $25, you can give a kid a Christmas in Kenya. We have 100 orphans whom God has entrusted to our care and your gift will give them a Christmas blessing that will last long after Christmas—except for the holiday meal! The first person I recently shared this with immediately wrote a check for $25, and I am hoping you will have the same response. Is $25 too much to ask to help a kid, an orphan kid, have a Christmas?

        You can give online or mail your check payable to PurposeQuest International, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA, 15221-0882. PQI is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization and your contribution is tax-deductible. Please give as soon as you can so I can assemble and send the funds prior to Christmas so the caretakers know what they can do for the children.

        I wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, and I pray God’s blessings on you as you give a kid a Christmas in 2018. The children from the Each One Touch One Orphanage send their greetings as well, as you can see in this video.

        *****

        As a Christmas gift from me to you, here is a link to my audio message (40 mins) titled "Have Yourself a Mary Little Christmas."


        A Thanksgiving Gift for the Orphans

        My heart is burdened for the 100 plus orphans we have a relationship with in Kenya. This week in America, we will consume more food than many of those children will see all month. What's more, the Stanko family welcomed a new addition this week, a brand new baby boy named Benjamin. Today, I sent an offering of thanks to the Lord in honor of my grandson, and I invite you to join me.
         
        Here is the response Pastor David sent me from his smartphone (here are two pictures of my most recent visit to the orphanage last August):
         
        Brother Stanko,
         
        Thanks a lot for standing with us as a family. It has always been answered prayers even before we make that prayer. Of late we have been hesitant releasing some of the very vulnerable children to stay with their guardians during such school break as usual. The outcome of this has been negative.one girl got pregnant during last  April  break when staying her grandmother. Right now we have more than ten children of such status staying with us in our house when the rest left, so your donations was on time for us to use in taking care of them. May God always bless you.
         
        I was on the way to share with you some of the prayer needs we have as a family.
         
        We currently have a need for building better and spacious house due to my added responsibilities  as an area director apart from the above  cited issue.part of my duties is to host  church visitors  and  missionary we have adopted as an area. Also many church and  community meetings are often held here, some old granny visit their children and at times spend the night here. The list can be long even better washrooms are also a need.
         
        My plan is to do it in phases. The estimate cost is 1.2m khs ($12,000US) to completion. My strength is the tractor we have for local transport and now we have few kids hence can save part of our family small income to purchase the wall blocks and sand.
         
        Pray for us for this dream to be a reality.
         
        Pastor David
        Director
         
        Every penny you give will be forwarded to our partners in Kenya, who desperately need our help to feed the children. You can give your Thanksgiving offering through my website or by sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends!

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