Bill Gothard launches new accountability ministry/program: Total Success Power Teams
A few weeks ago, I was given some information regarding a new “program” that Bill Gothard is promoting. I was shocked that he’d want to get back in the saddle of ministry work so soon after resigning from the Board of the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP) Gothard founded IBLP in 1961 but was banned from participation due to accusations of sexual harassment from more than 30 women. The IBLP Board did eventually clear him of what they called “criminal activity,” leaving unanswered questions. (Source).
I think it is important to show a timeline of events related to Gothard’s scandal:
March 5, 2014 -Mr. Gothard indicated that he wanted to follow Matthew 5:23-24 and listen to those who have “ought [sic] against” him. In considering what was in the best interests of the Institute, the Board of Directors accepted Mr. Gothard’s resignation.
April 17, 2014 – A Statement from Bill Gothard:
God has brought me to a place of greater brokenness than at any other time in my life. It is a grief to realize how my pride and insensitivity have affected so many people. I have asked the Lord to reveal the underlying causes and He is doing this.
June 17, 2014 – IBLP statement:
We believe God still desires to use Bill Gothard for His work in the Kingdom of God, but we also believe it is important that he be held to the high standards clearly taught in the Scriptures and upheld by this ministry. At this time the Board unanimously agrees that Mr. Gothard is not permitted to serve in any counseling, leadership, or Board role within the IBLP ministry.
June 19, 2014 – A Christian Post article quotes from the above excerpt and says:
The letter, made public by Homeschoolers Anonymous, states that Gothard referenced a “desire to follow Matthew 5:23-24 and listen to those who have ‘ought [sic] [any grievance] against’ him.” Gothard said at the time he planned to “give his full attention to this objective,” and emphasized his commitment to that objective.
Somewhere between June 19, 2014 and September 8, 2014, in less than three months, Bill Gothard sent out an e-mail information to ATI families members. Do you find it interesting that Mr. Gothard has access to ATI e-mail addresses while he is not to serve in any capacity with IBLP? Is that appropriate?
I’d like to share some of the e-mail and commentary.
Bill Gothard’s New Objective
The new program is called Total Success Power Teams. I don’t know about you, but that sure sounds like a multi-level marketing promo gimmick to me. The information I received seemed credible. The design was familiar and similar to other literature I’ve seen from IBLP/Gothard. It contained two pages giving historical background on Gothard and the last page went into more detail about the program without answering any obvious questions about the program itself. The whole thing felt like a teaser to me. Before I begin, I plugged the excerpt of Gothard’s historical background into my word counter. The word:
- “I” was used 33 times
- “me” was used 8 times
- “my” was used 11 times
- “grace” was used 1 time
- “God” was used 7 times
On the first page, see the picture of the large crowd, the boasting of numbers (2.7 million youth/adults have attended the seminar), the PhD credentials behind Gothard’s name, two pictures of awards or certificates, awarded to Gothard, of course. Humility? I’m not seeing it.
The second page shows four pictures down the left side:
- I’m guessing it’s a picture of the Chicago Art Institute with a caption: “The La Grange Art League gave me an unexpected scholarship to take a course at the Chicago Art Institute.”
- The next picture shows Gothard doing chalk art, apparently in front of an audience.
- A photo of a packed out Basic conference in Detroit.
- Another shot of a Basic seminar with a packed-out crowd at the Dallas Convention Center.
If you were counting along with me, that makes a total of THREE pictures in two pages showing packed-out audiences. This seems to be a theme that he wants you to see: Gothard gets packed-out crowds wherever he speaks. Ho hum, humility. ::::yawn::::
The first part of Gothard’s history opens up with a woe-is-me, humble beginnings (get your tissues):
As a young boy, I certainly would have qualified for the title of “least likely to succeed.” I did not have any talents or abilities that compensated for my dismal performance in school. I flunked the first grade and barely passed the next seven grades on probation. In addition to not being able to read or remember what I read, I had a very short attention span and probably an undiagnosed case of dyslexia.
I often wondered what my future would be like, and as I approached high school I dreaded damaging the academic reputation of my two older sisters. Everything began to change when a family friend asked me, “Bill, do you really want to be successful in your life?” I immediately replied “Yes.” I was then told that if I wanted to be successful I must carry out one vital daily activity.
Then we read how God worked in Gothard’s life in amazing ways:
Something very unusual was taking place in my life. I knew that it was certainly not my doing. It was a living demonstration of God’s promise that if I was faithful in this one activity, whatever I did would prosper. This promise even extended to working with Chicago street gangs. I found a way to transform their thinking with two questions. These two questions have been 100% effective in other cities and nations.
He seems to contradict himself. He said that he was not responsible for what was happening in his life and gives God credit, yet he gives himself the kudos here: “I found a way to transform their thinking with two questions.” That’s pretty powerful stuff Gothard has. He claims he can actually transform people’s thinking? Where’s God in this?
We see more humble bragging coming up. Isn’t it cute when you kinda sorta give God credit, but then slip yourself into the equation and give yourself the credit – kind of like magician’s sleight of hand? Oh, no, no, no, not me, I didn’t do it, it was God, no me, no God . .oh wait . .
When I was 30 years old, God wanted to demonstrate to the world the vital importance of this activity. I put together a 30-hour seminar which explains the activity and how God rewarded me for doing it. Soon tens of thousands of youth and adults were packing out Colosseums across America. Thus far, over 2.7 million people from all walks of life have attended this seminar. They came by the enthusiastic word of mouth recommendations of their friends with no media advertising.
Yea, because for 2,000 years, our life has been in turmoil without this newfangled way of thinking.
Ok, and here we get to the crux of the matter. He’s been leading you with a carrot to bring you to the announcement of his new program. But look at what he does right here:
I’m sure that those who completed this seminar were convinced of the importance of this activity, and motivated to carry it out. However, it is doubtful that they had someone to personally encourage them to do it on a regular basis. Thus, many were overrun with daily cares and never experienced the rewards of faithfully doing it.
I too, became so busy with the ministry that I failed to continue this activity on a daily basis. Consequently the blessing of the Lord was lifted from my life and ministry.
Do you see what he did? He alluded to his moral failure in a slick way by saying, “consequently the blessing of the Lord was lifted from my life and ministry.” He’s blaming his moral failure on not following his program (or is it God’s program? his problem? I’m sooo confused), but he also implicates others – that they, too, have probably not had the encouragement on a regular basis. The underlying message is that they probably have failed just as he has failed. I think he wants a universal pity party . . . or something.
Whoa! Way to blameshift, Mr. Gothard. Do you see that it’s the program’s fault, it’s not the fact that Mr. Gothard has been running a group like a cult, has made inappropriate emotional/sexual advances towards young ladies. This is not a man who has recovered. This is a man who is still looking for the limelight in a new program, trying to move along really quickly from that disgrace.
For this I am deeply grieved. By God’s mercy and grace, He has brought me back and I am committed to carrying out this activity for the rest of my life. I am also determined to help as many others as I can to faithfully carry out the one thing by which God promises success in everything we do: meditating on God’s Word day and night. We will accomplish this through Total Success Power Teams.
After we read about Gothard and his compelling success story, we are led along in those two pages – – to something, but he does not disclose what. He feeds us bits and pieces of something that cause us to continue to read, that build the momentum and excitement. What is this thing he is talking about? How can we get successful? I want to know! How can God work through us like he did Mr. Gothard? (I can hardly wait ::::sarcasm::::.)
And here it is – – voila:
“The Overlooked Plan to Benefit Everyone”
Did you know that you and I and everyone has overlooked a plan to benefit everyone? He still hasn’t divulged what it is, but we’re still following that carrot stick. God’s Word says we have everything we need, but Bill Gothard tells us we have overlooked something. Thankfully I now have this plan in my possession so that I can make the last decades of my life count. This is how Gothard sells or lures you in to his new hype. Now, I don’t know if this “plan” costs anything, but let me continue. I feel like I’m pulling a Gothard, leading you all on. Are you ready for it? Here it is:
The plan is basically this: pray for everyone.
Pray for everyone!
That’s it! Wow. That was really powerful and profound and . . . . original? I think it is appropriate to throw in a couple of Bible verses right now:
What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9
Mr. Gothard, there is nothing new under the sun. Your “overlooked” plan is nothing new. It’s just a remake of this verse below, but you are trying to get the credit:
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thes 5:16-18
Julie Anne Contacts IBLP
After getting over the initial shock that Bill Gothard, after less than three short months of his commitment saying he was going to make things right, has started something new, I wanted to hear from the horse’s mouth before posting something about it – you know, due diligence and all of that. I wanted to hear from someone – at least someone from IBLP – a voice within that organization to confirm the existence of this program. Now, I knew that Gothard was no longer connected with IBLP, but assumed with his long-standing relationship with the ministry he built, that they would have information about this new program.
So, I called IBLP headquarters. I first connected with a young lady. Was she a teenager? I’m not sure, but her voice was very young. She was very polite (actually oozing with politeness) and wanting to help me. She said she thought she knew what I was talking about, but transferred me to a gentlemen who would surely know.
This man was aware of the new Total Success Power Teams that Gothard was promoting and launching from his home, but was very clear to say that it was not connected in any way with IBLP. It makes me wonder how he knew so much about it if Gothard is no longer connected with IBLP. hmmm
He told me that Gothard is trying to launch the program now and suggested if I had any further questions, I could call the phone number on the e-mail, Gothard’s home phone number. I asked if he would mind sharing it with me as I did not have the number handy, and he gave it to me. Wow, I was getting somewhere, and fast. I already had the program verified, but now the opportunity to hear from the man himself was too good to pass up, so I let my fingers do the dialing.
Discussion with Mr. Gothard
I heard a familiar voice answer the phone – his voice sounded more frail than I remember from the two seminars our family had attended in the early 90s (hmm, I’m wondering if we were counted twice in that 2.7 million number he quoted above?) Whoa! I was talking to THE man – the guy whose face has been seen on screens all over the world giving us God’s plan for our lives.
I identified myself as Mrs. Smith (the ATI people I know use Mrs./Mr. more than first names, so I followed suit, being respectful and all) and asked, “With whom am I speaking?” He identified himself as Bill Gothard.
Now – in full disclosure – I was in a state of “whoa!!!!!-I-am- really-talking-to-Bill Gothard” and failed to identify myself as a blogger. But my mind was on a mission and so I continued by asking several questions, about the program, who is it for, is it with IBLP, that kind of thing.
I found out that fathers sign up for it and they become part of a team. Evidently it’s some sort of accountability group concept where questions are sent out and men have meetings online. The fathers then instruct their families and encourage them to pray and meditate. He told me he was very excited about it and was encouraged about the growth he had already seen in his new program.
He spoke about meditation – that the blessing of God left him “when he was not meditating day and night.” He said that he had been meditating in the morning, but had neglected meditating at night. Notice he didn’t identify specific sin, but said, “God’s blessing left” him. The real sin as he sees it seems to be that he was not meditating. Those of us familiar with this kind of response would label it as minimizing. It’s a way to avoid dealing with the full weight of responsibility.
One aspect of meditation I found interesting was when Gothard excitedly told me his views about meditating, specifically meditating at night. Gothard said that God instructs him at night after meditating. He said that God instructs through dreams while we are sleeping. His voice was excited as he shared this with me. Gothard said, “God’s calling in my life is to encourage people to meditate on scripture.”
The conversation was not long. It ended up with him telling me if my husband signed up that evening, he would be the 92nd man to join. I later asked my husband if he was interested in joining and he gave me a strange look (the usual wondering-what-I-was-up-to-now look) and declined the offer.
Ok, so after the shock wore off that I had just spoken with the Mr. Gothard, I realized I should have disclosed that I was a blogger. I was too busy with activities on Thursday, so I called again on Friday. He didn’t answer and I didn’t leave a voice mail as I planned to try again a couple of hours later. What do you know, within a short period of time, my phone rang and I saw this on my Caller ID:
I grabbed my notebook/pencil and answered the phone. Mr. Gothard asked for my husband (you know, the man of the house, and the name on the caller ID). I told him he was not available, but I was the same Mrs. Smith who had called two days earlier. This time, I made sure to identify that I was a blogger. I mentioned that I’d like to feature his new ministry on my blog.
His tone changed immediately – a 180 degree change from our earlier conversation (you can come to your own conclusions about that tone change). He quickly corrected me and said it was not a ministry and denied being responsible for it, saying a group of people were working on this “program.”
He then told me that it would not be a good idea to report on the program. I asked why not. This is where it got interesting.
Let’s think back – on Wednesday, I spoke with a man who was pumped up telling me about a new program/ministry. He was excited to share details about it, the growth it was experiencing, and the excitement men were sharing with him. He ended the conversation by saying he hoped to hear from my husband soon to get him signed up (before he left for church at 6:30 pm).
What had happened in less than 48 hours? Something must have happened between Wednesday and Friday. Now the new story on Friday was this: numbers were not as good as he had hoped, they were going to have to rework things, and he said it wasn’t public. I challenged him on that by saying that he had already sent out e-mails to ATI families, so it was indeed “out there.” He insisted that it would not be a good idea for me to report on this “program” until he had an opportunity to first announce it himself.
This phone call was a bit tense. But I had questions to ask, and interestingly, he readily responded to them.
I asked if he had reached out to the young ladies who had come forward with grievances against him:
He said he has attempted to and would love to have anyone offended contact him so he could have the opportunity to make things right.
I asked if this accountability ministry was based on fallout from last year’s allegations:
He responded that this indeed was “part of my reconciliation.” He also said that this program is also to reinforce what “we’ve been trying to do all these years.” He mentioned that this is God’s calling on his life – to encourage people to meditate on scripture.
People who have been affected by Bill Gothard have the right to know about this new ministry program. People who have been harmed by this man who has “allegedly” emotionally, spiritually, and sexually harmed people have a right to know that Bill Gothard is back to the same old stuff, promoting his own works, calling it God’s works, saying we need this to have successful lives. This is hogwash. God certainly does not need to bring a “success” program through a man who has left a lot of hurting families in his wake.
Thirty-four days have passed since the initial e-mail was sent out to ATI families. Sixteen days have passed since I last spoke to Gothard in which he said he wanted to post something about it first. He has had sufficient time to make this public. At this point, as days go on, I cannot be certain if he has ever had the intention of going “public,” as he suggested. Additionally, the news is now public on the internet. When I first got the information, there was nothing I could find online. Now there is talk about it in the comments at the Recovering Grace site by people who have received the same e-mail. It is public.
Ironically, while Gothard is pushing this new ministry/program for accountability, who is holding HIM accountable? Who gave him the green light to be involved/launch this new program? Who decided that he has shown repentance, shown over time, that he has not fallen back in his old ways of that he describes in his own statement of repentance from months ago?
For many years I have been building the Institute but losing my first love for the Lord. God warns “I know thy works, and thy labour . . . Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent. . . ”(Revelation 2:2, 4, 5). I was finding value and affirmation from the accomplishments of the ministry and those involved in it instead of filling this void in my life with God and His love. I have repented in deep sorrow. However, over the years many people have been offended in different ways because of my lack of genuine love.