July-August 2016 – Something powerful happens when a dozen men come together around the person and work of Jesus Christ. That is what Dr. Craig Fry, president of Christian Leadership Concepts, Inc., knows to be true through his work with the not-for-profit, non-denominational ministry that seeks to equip men for a lifetime of biblically based leadership.
Founded in 1982 by Dr. Hal Hadden, CLC is more than just a fellowship group, and it is certainly not a short-term Bible study. What sets CLC apart from other ministries is its relational component.
According to the ministry’s executive summary, “Most men have many acquaintances, but few have trusted male friends. The potential for meaningful friendships with other men is perhaps the most needed and appreciated aspect of the CLC training process, along with the truth from Scripture.”
Leadership training through CLC takes place among a group of 12 men over the span of two years. During this time, these men create a transparent bond and unwavering accountability through which they do life together at home, at church, at work, and in their communities. Honesty and vulnerability are vital to the relationships that develop through CLC.
During their two years together, a CLC group works through 12 10-week-long modules that focus on a man’s “up-reach to God, in-reach to self and one’s inner circle, and out-reach to business people, [the] community and … the world.” The modules include scriptural lessons on how to read, study, and teach the Bible; be a godly husband, father, and businessman; make wise financial investments; be a good church member; and influence the community, among other topics.
CLC groups meet together weekly to discuss the scriptural pretext that each member is to have studied throughout the week. Their personal studies include Scripture memorization as well as assigned reading from contemporary Christian books. Facilitators lead each group and guide weekly discussions. To enhance the relational aspect, group members also come together for outreach projects and one-on-one for lunch or coffee each month. This gives the men an opportunity to get to know each other and invest deeply in each other’s lives. Lifelong friendships are developed, and as a result, lives are changed.
“What we have discovered is that we are most successful when we do [discipleship] like Jesus did it,” Fry (photo at right) told AFA Journal. “He had a small group of men. He hung out with them for years, and they did life together.”
Fry measures success in terms of transformation.
“Most Christian men have no idea who they are in Christ,” he explained. “They have no concept. Their altered and skewed vision is that Jesus died on the cross so they could try harder. And when they truly understand how God sees them, that they are children of God – clean in His sight – it blows their minds.”
Fry said that once they understand, believe, and embrace their position in Christ, then all that is asked and expected of a Christian man suddenly makes sense. Leadership at home, church, and work becomes a natural overflow of a relationship with Christ. It is no longer forced, nor is it a temporary change in a behavioral pattern. Rather, it is an extension of who God created a man to be.
Therefore, discipleship and leadership go hand in hand once the heart has been transformed. Fry sees them as two sides of the same coin.
“The Great Commission is not a call to be just a disciple; it’s to be a disciple maker,” he said. … [But] you have to be a disciple first to even answer the call.”
“As you become equipped, it becomes second nature to share that ‘this is the way; come follow it.’ By default, you become a leader,” said M. Shane Scott, who has been a CLC facilitator of two different groups and is about to begin a third group.
“Life transformations are what we are seeing after men go through the curriculum,” Scott told AFAJ. “Some of our CLC guys are now deacons in the church, teaching Sunday School, discipling other believers. We are definitely seeing the fruit of their time with CLC.”
But it was actually the lack of such fruit within the local church that led Scott to CLC six years ago. Scott has a passion for missions but became frustrated when he saw very few Christians going or serving. He did not understand why until the Lord revealed to him over the course of two to three years that he was expecting fellow believers to obey the command of Christ to “go and make disciples” found in Matthew 28 without having the foundation needed to internalize it. Such a foundation comes from the nurturing of relationships through discipleship – something Scott realized was absent in the local church.
Through word of mouth, Scott was introduced to CLC. He was trained to be a facilitator and spent six to nine months praying for the Lord to bring the men to mind that He would have in Scott’s group. That is how the program is designed. Two facilitators, who each recruit five men face-to-face to go through this two-year journey with them, form a group, which in turn forms lifelong relationships.
There is one CLC group from Nashville, Tennessee, that has been meeting together for 17 years. They are now making their way through the Bible together.
CLC currently has groups in 82 cities in 21 states and in Canada.
Becoming a part of a CLC group involves commitment, dedication, and a high level of accountability.
“People need to examine the cost,” Fry said. “But that is intentional.”
Fry believes that, deep down, men want to be challenged, and unfortunately the church has often dumbed down manhood. Six-week and nine-week Bible studies don’t stick because they are too easy.
“When you say homework, Scripture memory, two years, vulnerability, transparency in a relationship, get raw, get real,” Fry said, “there is something within a man that goes, ‘I didn’t even know that existed!’”
However, he wants to become a part of it. When he does, he becomes the man and the leader God intended him to be.
Christian Leadership Concepts makes every effort to accommodate men who want to participate in the program but may not have been recruited or may not be ready to take on the role of facilitator and form a group. Therefore, CLC keeps a database of men who are interested in becoming part of a group.
“Sometimes a man will call our headquarters in Nashville and see if there is a group forming in his area,” CLC President Craig Fry said. “Other times a local representative will hear about a prospect, meet him, and then forward his name to us. Still other names come from a facilitator’s network of friends, co-workers, or fellow church members.”
A man’s participation in a group is either determined by a personal interview or by the man making the determination to participate himself. At that point, a CLC staff member or representative will contact facilitators who are forming a new group in the man’s area and introduce that man as a potential group member.
To learn more about CLC or inquire about participation in a group, visit christianleadershipconcepts.org or call 615-370-5020.