Celebrating Forty Years of Heart and Mind Discipleship: A Brief History of the C.S. Lewis Institute - page 6


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From the Spring 2016 issue of Knowing & Doing:  

Celebrating Forty Years of Heart and Mind Discipleship:
A Brief History of the C.S. Lewis Institute

J. Edward Glancy, J.D., C.S. Lewis Institute Fellow
with Joel S. Woodruff, Ed.D., President, C.S. Lewis Institute

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  Tarrants made arrangements to have lunch with Lindsley, who encouraged him to get involved with the Institute as a volunteer in the area of discipling or discipleship training. Tarrants accepted the offer and designed a pilot project to take a group through a discipleship program. The project was advertised, and a group was formed. One of the members was Kerry Knott, who years later would become CSLI President. The pilot project was deemed successful, and by late summer Lindsley raised the question of whether Tarrants might be interested in becoming President of the Institute, as Lindsley wanted to devote more time to writing.20
  By early October 1998, CSLI’s Board invited Tarrants to become President. The Board asked him for a ten-year commitment, with the mandate of refocusing the Institute to making disciples.
 The Institute’s financial position remained poor at this time, and the Board was not able to immediately offer Tarrants a salary. A year and a half later, a small salary was provided, which would later be gradually increased to an amount appropriate for the position and nature of the organization.

Building the CSLI Staff

  As Tarrants stepped in to the role of President, he and Lindsley were the only full-time staff members. The Institute didn’t have any support staff. He prayed for God to provide a secretary and asked several churches to put an announcement about the need in their bulletins.
  A few people responded, and Tarrants recalls that Karen Olink was “just clearly the person for the job.” Olink was totally devoted to the work of the Institute and stayed for twelve years. Tarrants states that “we could not have succeeded without her help; she was just a key person.”
  Another key person who came to CSLI around this time was Bill Deven, who had retired as Vice President of Finance and Administration with The Ryland Group and then served as Executive Vice President of Search Ministries for twelve years. After a meeting with Tarrants, Deven volunteered to do the Institute’s books and financial reporting; he would serve as Treasurer for fifteen years.

The Beginning of the Fellows Program

  As President, Tarrants immediately set out to refocus the Institute toward the discipleship of working professionals. Of particular significance, in 1999 CSLI began the Fellows Program, a yearlong discipleship commitment that helped believers experience heart and mind transformation.
  Eleven men participated in the first class, among them, Kerry Knott. Tarrants and Lindsley served as teachers and mentors. Based on the reports and evaluation material from all of the Fellows, the program seemed to be effective. The next year, CSLI made the program available to women, in a separate cohort.
  The program was scalable, so over time there would be multiple groups of men and multiple groups of women. As Tarrants remarks, upon looking back, “It just kept growing.” Those who went through the program recruited their friends with zeal.

CSLI’s 25th Anniversary

  In 2001 CSLI used a special logo for its publications, featuring the phrases “Celebrating 25 Years of Ministry” and “Soli Deo Gloria.” For the Spring 2001 edition of the C.S. Lewis Institute Report, Tarrants wrote an article titled “Happy Birthday C.S.L.I.!” He noted that, like many of God’s works, the Institute had seen changes since its founding. He rejoiced in recent theological conferences and events, writing,

Perhaps most significant is the role the Institute has played in the theological and spiritual formation of some of the area’s men and women through the C.S. Lewis Fellows Program. Through a year-long study series and mentoring, the Fellows are challenged to make their faith in Christ a genuine reality in their personal and public lives, touching all sectors of business, government, and education.

  In that issue, Tarrants also introduced a new member of the CSLI staff, Jim Beavers, a former Headmaster of Trinity Christian School in Fairfax, Virginia. His initial title at CSLI was Executive Director, which was later changed to Director of Communications.


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