Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Basic Youth Conflicts

I never attended one of Bill Gothard's seminars but many of my friends back in the 1970s did. Chaplain Mike at Internet Monk did, too, and wonders "Whatever Happened to...Bill Gothard?":
...[I]n the aftermath of our spiritual awakening in the early 1970′s, the natural thing for our youth leader to do was to herd a bunch of us onto an old school bus to head to Philadelphia for the Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts, where we were issued our red padded three-ring binders and forced to sit and listen to a short guy with short hair in a dark blue suit lecture us for three hours a night over the course of six days.

We loved it. At least I did.

“The Bill Gothard Seminar” we called it. It was an “experience,” and more than anything, that was what I was after. Sitting in a darkened room with thousands of people learning “God’s principles,” this became a significant annual element of my Christian discipleship. Gothard was savvy in his use of media, even though it was elementary in those days, and his charts and diagrams and words up on the big screen seemed to carry an authority far more powerful than anything we received in church or Bible study (though we loved those settings too).

Looking back, I liken what I felt in those arenas to what many feel in megachurch settings today—a sense of being part of something “big,” a sense of intimacy with a “celebrity” through a media event (even though I was but one of a huge crowd), a sense of expectancy that my life could be changed by an overwhelming experience.

I remember going home after Gothard seminars determined to apply what I had learned. I asked forgiveness from those that I had offended or sinned against. I tried hard to submit to my parent’s authority. I took up devotional practices advocated at the seminar (his teaching on meditating on Scripture is still a part of me). However, like most “mountaintop” experiences, our week long marathons of spiritual intensity quickly lost their power to affect what happened in my daily life. ....
He is far less enthusiastic today and wonders how others who were influenced by Gothard's teaching feel about the effect of "Basic Life Principles" on their lives.

Whatever Happened to . . . Bill Gothard? |

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