Perry Stone's Voice of Evangelism has reached hundreds of thousands of people with the Word of God each week for 16 years. Effective as the ministry is in spreading the gospel, however, Stone has developed a passion to help people worldwide to go deeper into the Word of God than ever before.
Realizing the need to make that happen, Stone's ministry collaborated with author and founder and president of Church Trainer Bryan Cutshall to found the International School of the Word. The fledgling online institution, Stone says, serves two purposes: 1) To distribute deeper material that VOE doesn't teach on television and 2) To give individuals an opportunity to receive a kingdom education to fulfill the Great Commission of making disciples of all the world.
"One of the ways we continually reach out globally is the use of resource material—books, CDs and DVDs," Stone says. "So many people want to learn deeper truths in the Scriptures. And even with our television program, it's very difficult to get the material to them, especially overseas.
"We realize the hunger people have not just to understand the basics of Scripture but for deeper insights into the Word of God and the kingdom. ... People hear Bible stories, and they are very basic and practical. But they do not know doctrine. They do not know how to defend their faith. And they don't know how to answer questions about their culture in a biblical way. We are offering teaching on how to do those things."
The International School of the Word launched just over two weeks ago, and the response, Cutshall says, has been overwhelming. Nearly 450 people have enrolled to take online classes, and the school's website, isow.perrystone.org, received more than 35,000 unique visitors during its first week. Stone says most students are American, but students from five other countries have already enrolled.
One of the biggest advantages to an ISOW education, Cutshall says, is the price.
"One of the things we're most excited about is that we're able to offer each subject based on the economic status of each country," Cutshall says. "You pay for one course at a time. The top amount for one course is $150, but some are considerably less, and you can have sometimes between 30 to 40 lessons in that one course. And another advantage is that you learn at your own pace. You can take a class any day of the week. It's as easy as logging on to Netflix and choosing a movie."
ISOW's mission statement is "Connecting the Word to the World."
"We know we are already connecting the Word to places where the gospel is illegal," says Cutshall, the school's chancellor who previously pastored a 5,000-member church in St. Louis. "We are trying to bring water to the desert. With the internet, you can connect to us from any country in the world.
"We see that some sermons from the pulpit have gotten shallow and showy. We know the internet can be used for evil, but we believe it was created for the gospel. If you use it wrong, it can become a hindrance. But if you use it right, you it can connect you to the world. We believe we are going to reach so many people and, in turn, those people will use the tools they've been given to spread God's Word."
Individuals can take courses for their own personal walk, or they can do so for academic credit. ISOW offers certificate-based courses that can be applied to one of three levels of certification in biblical studies. Stone says the school is not yet accredited, but he and school officials are working to make that happen as soon as possible.
ISOW offers courses in seven areas: Bible expository studies, Bible prophecy, topical Bible studies, languages of the Bible/Hebraic roots, theology, personal development and ministry development.
Many of the courses are video-based, but ISOW also offers reading-based online curriculum in a variety of subjects. The courses provide students with the opportunity to interact with professors and staff online.
ISOW accepts transferred credits from other schools, and the credits earned at ISOW can be transferred to other schools once the school is accredited.
"We want to give people a very solid biblical education—Old and New Testament—along with Bible prophecy, ministerial studies and biblical expository studies," Stone says. "But it is more than a Bible college or school of ministry. It is also a mentoring institution with courses designed to foster wisdom and the application of principles for daily living."
Stone says the teaching staff at ISOW is "as good as any university in the world." The staff ranges from fivefold ministry leaders to theologians to pastors, worship leaders, evangelists and missionaries.
"Our teachers are rich in faith, astute in their field of study and, best of all, still active on the front lines of daily ministry," the website says. "We are not just teaching theory; we are teaching what we practice and live out in our daily lives. At ISOW, you not only get an education, you get life experience and wisdom."
For more information about the International School of the World, please visit isow.perrystone.org.
Shawn A. Akers is content development editor for Charisma Media.
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