School History

Son Life School of Theology

School History

Christian Life School of Theology began in1975 inthe heart of  Dr. Ronald E. Cottle. Having completed doctoral degrees in both religion (Ph.D.) and higher education (Ed.D.) and having served as a pastor and also as a college instructor, he came to understand  the unique problems that Christian higher education faces.  Pastors and spiritual leaders are, for the most part, having to depend for their personal education and professional training upon universities and seminaries that have lost touch with the local church and its members. 

As he tells it, “The Lord spoke to me as I went diligently about my business of educating future pastors and Christian leaders and said,  ‘Son you’re doing a good job, but you’ve got it all backwards.  Instead of taking the bright and beautiful students out of the church and putting them into elitist academic hot houses, why not bring the faculty to local church and educate them right there?”  The more Cottle thought about it, the more he liked the idea. 

But it took eight years before he did anything about that idea. He detoured into a major pastorate and the leadership of a seminary.  But in 1982, upon moving to California, Cottle began the process of creating and founding an educational institution, “a college without walls,”  which could bring a faculty, curriculum and excellent teaching principles into the local church.  By 1983, Christian  Life School of Theology was begun.  

In 1984, the school was moved to Missouri. The first courses were offered in Alabama and Florida. Both were taught by Dr. CottIe and both were successful. This began CLST International-a very humble beginning indeed.

By1986, CLST had grown to twelve campuses, in the South and Midwest. There were nine faculty members and an enrollment of nearly six hundred students. The CLST National Headquarters  and offices were moved to Columbus, Georgia, where they aretoday.

In. 1992, the Video Division and the Home Study/Correspondence Division of CLST were started.  Video courses are now being provided for distribution around the world. The Home  Study/Correspondence courses are now offered to hundreds of student who take the same classes as live and video students, but by audio tape. 

1996, CLST had grown to 130 campuses and 58 faculty members.  Each year there has been an Annual Conference, usually held in Columbus the first week of October. That conference now attracts approximately four hundred chancellors, deans and faculty each year.  It is a wonderful time for the “family” to meet.  New teachers and courses are introduced, new chancellors are deans are presented, and the college grows. 

As of this publication in 1999, the number of CLST campuses stands at 296 plus overseas sites in 15 countries of the world.  There are 74 instructors offering 155 courses.  There are approximately 15,000 who are taking CLST courses. 

Return to main CLST index