Gothard was ordained by his home church, LaGrange Bible Church (in LaGrange, Illinois), and for a few years after obtaining his M.A. in Christian Education, he worked as a youth pastor. 
    In the early 1960s, Gothard discovered he had a remarkable aptitude for drawing stick-figure diagrams.  He gave what he called “chalk-talks,” and other youth workers were impressed by how he used them to hold young people’s attention.  Eventually they asked him to share his insights with them.
    In 1964 he created a syllabus that he shared with 15 other youth workers.  In 1965 he taught a summer class at Wheaton College, which was essentially his first seminar.
     Over the next two years he held a seminar per year with an attendance of about 1,000 each.  In 1968 his atendance doubled to 2,000. 
    In the late ’60s most seminars were small enough to fit into school gymnasiums, and the audience could ask questions. During one Q-and-A session, a mother of two from Gothard’s home church disagreed with his insistence that children always be spanked when they disobey.  She argued that all children are different, should be treated as individuals, and presented examples from her own family. But the never-married, childless Gothard was sure the Bible taught otherwise.  Fortunately for him, seminar attendance would soon become so large that Q-and-A sessions would be impossible.