----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------FOR INFORMATION ON OUR THIRD MODULE—SUMMER, 2012—click here: viewtopic.php?f=70&t=3986&p=51911#p51911----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Watch a brief video of interviews with those who attended the first module at
: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6IRRqVPCEGoThe NEW Great Commission School:
Module #2 — Summer, 2011History
The original “Great Commission School” (GCS) was founded in Bandon, Oregon, in 1983, and later relocated to McMinnville, Oregon, in 1989. It was an intensive, live-in, immersion course in the whole Bible for adults—entailing the verse-by-verse study of the entire Old and New Testaments over a period of nine months. The program continued for 16 years under the direction of myself (Steve Gregg). I was also its founder, along with a support team of seven families, originally from Calvary Chapel of Santa Cruz, California. This program was discontinued, after sixteen years of operation, in 1999 (for reasons mentioned below).
Similar nine-month programs later operated under the names “Berean School of the Bible” (in McMinnville) and “Great Commission School” (in Thunder Bay, Ontario), as well as trimmed-down, three-month, New Testament versions of the same, which were conducted in Honduras and Israel. Most of these courses were founded, after the 1999 close of the original program, and were operated by graduates of the original school. I participated only as a guest lecturer.
Though the original program utilized the gifts of as many as a dozen teachers each year, I regularly taught at least 50% of the lectures myself. All of the verse-by-verse lectures (and most of the topical lectures) at http://www.thenarrowpath.com
were recorded at the school during this period. In the programs conducted after 1999, I usually did very little of the teaching (with the exception of the Berean School, 2003-4, where I taught full-time), because, for most of those years, I had relocated with my family away from of McMinnville, and thus was not available to carry a large teaching load in those programs run by alumni. I did conduct a 6-week school, in Kamiah, Idaho, in the summer of 2000, which consisted only of topical teaching, the audio of which can be downloaded from http://www.digitalministries.us
. For the next ten years, there were no schools conducted under my supervision. That changed in the summer of 2010.Distinctives of the Great Commission School
The Great Commission School is a non-accredited Bible-and-discipleship school, stressing an honest and intelligent approach to the Word of God, along with the development of an authentic relationship with God and increased spiritual maturity.
Graduates from traditional Bible colleges, who wish to go into ministry, often bemoan the fact that they feel they did not learn enough of the Bible during their four years in college. Unlike most Bible colleges (for better or for worse), Great Commission School has no curriculum other than the Bible itself. GCS is also a very condensed course, covering the whole Bible in much greater depth, in a short course, than one would expect to do in a much longer undergraduate program.
The educational philosophy is also different from that of many other schools, as there is no denominational affiliation, and no pressure to toe the line with any narrow theological viewpoint. Unlike most Bible colleges, GCS does not promote a dispensational paradigm, nor a Calvinist bias. While this means that the teaching is done by one who is neither dispensational nor Calvinist, yet every effort is made to present students with the viewpoints and arguments for these perspectives for their consideration, when treating relevant texts. In fact, an effort is always made to examine all sides of controversial issues objectively.
The approach to the scriptures is inductive, though not following the inductive "methods" of any specific teachers or programs (e.g., we do not require the making of "charts" as is done in YWAM's School of Biblical Studies, at which I am also a regular lecturer). Our students are required to read each book of the Bible, making and recording inductive observations prior to the beginning of classroom treatment of the material. The simple fact is that GCS's goal is not to train up a group of theological clones, but to breed a variety of Christians which are in much shorter supply—namely, Christians who think independently and honestly about Scripture. Why no school between 2000 and 2010?
In the decade following the closing of the original Great Commission School, I was often asked if I would ever run such a program again. My answer was consistently negative. I believed that the original course had merit, but it required too much of my direct attention (not only in lecturing, but also in management of staff) and was difficult to maintain alongside my other commitments (e.g., my daily radio broadcasts, the writing of Revelation: Four Views, my travels for YWAM and other organizations, raising several young children, etc.). This is the reason I finally closed the school in 1999. I felt burned out—not with teaching, but with leading an organization.
There were considerations that led me, early in 2010, to consider the need to conduct a school again. One of these was that the recordings at the website, which were recorded at the original GCS, were all now between 10 and 20 years old. This presented issues related both to the content (e.g., time-sensitive comments and those which might no longer reflect my current attitudes or opinions) and to the technical quality of the recordings (the originals were recoded on cassette tape, prior to convenient digital recording options).
I realized that it would be desirable to update the entire catalogue, but, without a condensed, intensive teaching program, it would take many years (decades) to re-teach over 900 lectures. To conduct at least one more school (and possibly only one more) began to commend itself as an unavoidable imperative, but there seemed to be insurmountable challenges to my being able to do so.
One of these was the lack of facilities. GCS previously owned (without a mortgage) its own campuses, in Bandon and in McMinnville, respectively. Both were sold long ago, and it is not a simple matter to procure (especially without money!) facilities adequate for the feeding and housing of any number of students and staff for three-quarters of the year (then to be left empty three months a year).
A second challenge was that, since we charge the students no tuition (only room-and-board costs), all staff must be, like myself, unpaid volunteers. It is not easy to find qualified, mature Christians who are free to occupy staff positions without needing to be compensated. We had such individuals at the original GCS, but it was a long-term situation, where the same staff would often reside on campus for, perhaps, five years, being provided with food and housing on campus free of charge. Without owning such a campus, and without offering long-term positions, it seemed difficult to imagine recruiting qualified people to fill the necessary positions.
Third, if the purpose of conducting another school was to replace the recordings of all of my existing lectures, then, obviously, I would have to do all the teaching myself. This would be very difficult for me to do for three-to-four hours a day, over a period of nine consecutive months, without a break. Such an endeavor would not only tend to wear me out, but it would also leave me too little time between segments in which to do adequate lecture preparation. It would also interfere with my other travel commitments.
For these reasons, I did not make any move toward re-launching a Great Commission School program…until 2010.What changed?
One thing that freed me to reconsider the matter of another school was the fact that my four youngest children, whom I was left to raise alone after 2001, grew up and became independent (well, sort of independent). This marked a significant change in my availability to take on new commitments. The year 2009 was the first year since 1973 that I had no minor children to raise in my home.
Second, various friends of mine came to me in that year saying, “If you ever have another school, I would be willing to volunteer as staff in any capacity that is needed.” This got me thinking…
A third development was my coming to the awareness of the availability of suitable facilities, which have probably been available all along, but which I had never considered. It occurred to me a year ago that many of the YWAM bases, where I am frequently a guest lecturer, and which exist in every nation on earth, only house students on their campuses during certain months of the year, meaning that there are seasons during which their housing, feeding and training facilities might be available to be rented by outsiders for other purposes. Having explored this possibility, I found that my longstanding association with YWAM did indeed render this a genuine option. In fact, more than one YWAM base actively solicited my use of their facilities for this purpose.
Where YWAM bases are indeed available, they are usually only available for blocks of three months at a time before they bring in a new batch of their own students for their own programs. Three months is also generally the maximum time permitted for foreign guests to visit America (and many other countries) on a “Visitor’s Visa”—meaning that a three-month course would also render it possible for international students to attend without having to qualify for the more difficult “Student Visa.”
Obviously, three months would not be sufficient to teach through the whole Bible—which formerly, in GCS, required nine months (and even at that, seemed uncomfortably rushed). However, I considered that a series of ten-week modules (in different locations—perhaps even in different countries) might well accomplish this goal. If there was sufficient time-off scheduled between individual modules, I would be less likely to be overwhelmed, as such intervals would allow me time for personal refreshment, preparation for the next segment, and for fulfillment of other teaching commitments elsewhere. Having given this option prayerful consideration, along with counsel from other trusted men, I decided to proceed with such a plan.
I was aware that there would be relatively few students who would be sufficiently free (and financially solvent) to attend five 10-week modules, stretched over a period of two or more, conducted in a variety of international locations, but this was no grave concern. It would not be necessary for anyone to go to all the modules, but only to any that were convenient for them to attend. Students could attend whatever modules their time and finances would allow (perhaps only one), and, if they wished, could obtain the rest of the course on digital audio and/or video recording, to be posted at the website. So why would anyone attend the courses on-site?
I would hope that the course’s availability on-line would render it unnecessary for anyone to attend the lectures on-site. I am not hoping for a large enrollment, and plan to limit the number of admissions for each module to a small and easily manageable student body.
The advantages of actually attending any module of the course would be as follows:
1. The students are studying together with others of similar disposition, immersed in an environment conferring similar benefits to those of a spiritual retreat or a Bible conference.
2. Students are removed, for ten weeks, from their normal routines at home, and have nothing to distract them from their studies.
3. Housing and three meals a day are provided at a cost below the cost of living at home, or almost anywhere else in the Western World (In the first module, it was $20 per day; in the second $15 per day + air fare to and from Chile).
4. Since I live among them on site, students also have the opportunity to ask questions and confer with me about their studies on a daily basis.Module contents and schedules:
Those who attend any of the New Great Commission School modules must be prepared to rise on weekdays no later than 6:00 AM (retiring no later than midnight), and to attend lectures three-to-four hours each day. It should be understood that this is a university-level course (some have said that it is actually graduate-level), so that the same personal discipline of study should be adopted as if attending a high-level college program—though the course is not merely academic, at the cost of devotional and practical application. Most of our graduates have said that their nine months at GCS were the best nine months of their Christian lives. I was sometimes told, by those who had already graduated from Bible colleges before attending GCS, that they learned more of the Bible in their first few weeks at GCS than they learned in their entire Bible College experience (possibly a hyperbole, but reported sincerely).
The material covered in the first module (held in the summer of 2010, in the Seattle Area) included Genesis—Deuteronomy, Job, Gospel of Mark
Module 2: Summer (June through August), 2011—location: Monroe, WA (same location as Module #1)
Course Contents: Old Testament Historical Books, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Gospel of John
Module 3: Time and location to be announced
Contents: Old Testament Prophets, Gospel of Matthew
Module 4: Time and location to be announced
Contents: Luke/Acts, General Epistles, Revelation, Proverbs
Module 5: Time and location to be announced
Contents: Paul’s Epistles, Psalms
None of these modules interferes with the students’ Christmas commitments, though other holidays may be preempted during some of the modules, as it is impossible to get through the material and still to take time off for holidays.
Since I am placing severe limits upon the number of students admitted, the enrollment of any given student will necessarily exclude a number of other potential students, who might also desire to have been included in the program. I will, therefore, expect those who apply and are admitted to be willing to attend all lectures and to participate fully in the program.
The course is too intensive to allow participating students to be simultaneously occupied in jobs or outside commitments (other than on weekends). While the program is primarily lecture-based, in addition to attendance of the lectures, there will be outside study assigned, and a minimal amount of written assignments required of students. Students are also expected to participate in various scheduled prayer and worship times. Cost and other minor details
The dates for the module are currently set from June 19th to August 27th.
The cost of the second module (through the generosity of YWAM) is only $20 per day—which covers housing and all meals. For the ten weeks, then, the cost per student is $1,400. GSC will charge the students nothing for the lectures. I, and other staff, will not be compensated, though personal donations will obviously be welcome.
The whole $1,400 will be paid to YWAM (not to me), who will then provide the housing and the prepared meals. Students should be prepared for shared housing conditions, with the exception of married couples, who will, of course, have their own private rooms, but may have to pay a little extra.
Since we will be studying the Bible verse-by-verse, it is important that every student have his/her own copy of the translation used in the lectures. Regardless what other translation may be the student's version-of-choice, each student should bring a personal copy of the New King James Version. Additional translations are welcome, but it is desirable, when commenting verse-by-verse, that everyone present be examining the same text.Applying
I am not placing a deadline on applications, because I would expect the school to fill up early, making any deadline moot. Those who wish to apply should fill-out and email to me the following information:
1. Your Name
3. Best phone number to reach you
7. Marital status
9. Previous formal education
10. How long following Jesus? (brief testimony)
11. Denominational affiliation, if any
12. Reason(s) for wishing to attend
13. Ministry experience and/or ministry goals, if any
14. A pastor, or anyone else I might contact as a character reference for you (and his/her phone number)Applications and questions may be sent to Steve, at email@example.comThe school is located at:
10211 Bollenbaugh Hill Rd
Monroe, WA 98272