CLA to start new school in November
By Dixon Cartwright
BIG SANDY, Texas--The Christian Leadership Academy is on the move again. For two years the academy has organized and conducted campaigns in U.S. and Canadian cities. But beginning in November in four locations in Arkansas it plans to conduct classes of the new Christian Leadership Academy School of Evangelism.
Church of God member Alfred Harrell of Hot Springs, founder and president of the CLA, visited Big Sandy Aug. 28 and talked about the new expanded CLA.
Classes will take place in Little Rock, Newport, Malvern and Warren, Ark., and will follow a curriculum of seven "levels." The objective is to teach "evangelism," but students may enroll in classes in several subjects that range from debate to business communication. Each of the seven levels will run for three months. A student completing all seven will have taken two years of classes at the rate of one three-hour evening session per week.
"If you go through most religious schools, you are expected to teach everything that a school believes, which is its doctrinal beliefs," said Dr. Harrell. "Our goal is to operate a school that does not teach doctrine but will lead a student toward the pursuit of truth."
The school was founded and will be run by Sabbatarian Christians. But anyone may enroll, including Sunday-observant Christians.
"I came to the conclusion some time ago," said Dr. Harrell, "that Sunday-keepers are not our enemy. In evangelizing, in sharing the truth, we find that Sunday-keepers, although they do not understand the truth of the Sabbath, have certain aspects of understanding that, in some cases, we do not have. They are not our enemy. Our enemy is Satan, not Sunday-keepers."
Classes will include Introduction to Leadership, Speech Communication, Mass Communication, Spiritual Gifts, Psychology, Community Involvement, Leadership and the Four Gospels, Theory of Logic, Principles of Debate, and Pursuit of Truth.
Regarding the latter, Dr. Harrell said the pursuer of truth "should not accept the things that are deceitful. We want to create people who are pursuers of truth, not pursuers of doctrinal beliefs, because, if you become a pursuer of doctrinal beliefs, then you perpetuate those doctrines that are not true from generation to generation.
"But, if you create a generation of people who pursue truth, then those doctrines that are not true will go by the wayside."
The Journal asked Dr. Harrell for examples of doctrines that would have been better dropped off by the wayside.
He cited the old Worldwide Church of God's doctrine of church eras because "there was no basis for it" and because it "caused a lot of pain."
He said the church-era teaching hurt people because it furthered a caste system.
"Those who believed it found themselves in a position of feeling like they were better than others because they were always part of the best era. It was a doctrine that fostered a judgmental attitude."
Another old WCG teaching Dr. Harrell didn't like is the concept that Joe church member didn't have an active role to play when it came to the church's evangelistic efforts.
"The Bible shows that down through the ages God used individuals as tools in the process of His calling other individuals. But the WCG took an approach that took people out of the process. Even to this day it is hard to get someone who has a WCG background to get involved in personal evangelism--or evangelism on any level."
Academy classes will be open to folks of any age, beginning in late teenage. But Dr. Harrell expects most students will be from 30 to 50 years old. The classes are designed and will be conducted so people with jobs and careers can attend.
Of course, for the time being it will help if a prospective student lives in Arkansas or is willing to move there.
Later Dr. Harrell hopes to have "satellite" CLA locations in several other states.
"If you want to be a biologist or accountant, then this school's not for you," he said. "There are universities out there doing a good job at teaching those courses. This is a school of evangelism. It is for people who want help in acquiring the tools to fulfill Jesus' admonition to preach the gospel to the world."
Dr. Harrell sees the goals of the CLA as congruous with the goals of the new Churches of God Evangelistic Association (see "Oklahoma Pastor Seeks Wide Support for Significant COG Gospel-Preaching Efforts," page 1). The new association plans to join with the CLA during the Feast in October in San Antonio, Texas, to conduct a CLA-designed campaign in that city in cooperation with the San Antonio Church of God, pastored by Julian Cruz.
For more information about CLA classes and campaigns, write P.O Box 20096, Hot Springs, Ark. 71913, U.S.A., or call (888) 776-0002.
© The Journal: News of the Churches of God