Watch a brief video of interviews with those who attended the first module at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6IRRqVPCEGo
FOR INFORMATION SPECIFICALLY ON THE UPCOMING SCHOOL, SCROLL DOWN TO THE RED TEXT BELOW.
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 (mortgage-free) 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 as much as 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.
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.
We conducted 10 week programs in YWAM facilities in Monroe, Washington. in the summers of 2010 and 2011. In 2012, we reduced the length of the school (in the same location) to 4 weeks. It became increasingly difficult to commit large blocks of my summer to running schools out of town, since I have ministry commitments in my own area, in Southern California. Therefore, in 2013 and 2014, we conducted shorter courses (2 weeks each) in Temecula, using improvised housing for students (e.g., our home, tents, trailers, etc.
NOTE: THIS SCHOOL IS HELD IN TEMECULA, CALIFORNIA
This summer, we are preparing to conduct another two-week school, in which I will be teaching through Romans and Zechariah. Romans is one of the most significant (and Zechariah is one of the most difficult) books of the Bible. These books will be covered in morning and evening lectures, August 3rd—August 14th. There is no charge for the course, though we do request that those who apply be committed to the complete two weeks, since the two books will be studied concurrently (Romans in the morning; Zechariah at night), and we want all the participants to take the complete course.
Though the course is free, participants themselves must provide their own housing and meals (we will provide some meals in our home, but we have not decided yet how many). We have talked to the local Motel 6 management and found that a room with 2 beds can be secured for $441 per week. This means that procuring rooms for the complete school will cost $882, but, if shared, would cost each participant half that amount. The hotel is right across the street from a Denny's restaurant and a Mexican restaurant—and every kind of other restaurant (including fast food) can be accessed within a few blocks. If a student were to spend about $30 a day for meals in restaurants (I would spend much less—this is a most-expensive-case scenario), it would cost about $420 for food for the two weeks. This means the total cost of the food and housing for a single student, sharing a room with one other student, would be about $900 (or less, depending on meals). Someone wishing for a private room would spend about $1,300 (or less) for the whole school.
If you think you would be interested in attending, and if you will need housing, you should contact us as early as possible so as to allow us to reserve the proper number of rooms. The summer months will become booked-up before long.
The deadline for applications is currently set for June 7th, 2015. We will need to have the money for hotel rooms in hand at that time, so as to guarantee the rooms. Checks can be made out to The Narrow Path, and we will reserve the rooms, unless an applicant wants to secure alternate housing on his/her own (in the event the school is cancelled for lack of adequate interest, checks will be returned uncashed to the applicant). Even students living in Temecula, who obviously do not have to rent housing for the school, should inform us of your intention to attend. 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)
15. Let us know if you will be needing a private room ($880) or wish to share a room ($440), so that we can procure the proper number of rooms before they are unavailable.
Applications and questions may be sent to Steve, at email@example.com
PLEASE DON'T REPLY ON THIS THREAD. DIRECT ALL QUESTIONS TO ME VIA EMAIL.