Christian Life College has its beginning over 55 years ago as the Chicago Bible College. Even before 1950, annual sessions were held in connection with the ministry of Philadelphia Church, a local church in Chicago. This local church Bible School came to birth as other churches in fellowship with the Philadelphia Church began to send young people to study God's Word in Chicago. The concept of Bible College grew until a four-year program was eventually implemented.
After several years, it was decided that the period of training should be lengthened into two short-term semesters. It became known as the Chicago Bible College, the name it retained until June of 1981. In 1950 the institution became a full-time school for the purpose of training pastors, evangelists, missionaries and Christian workers. Chicago's Philadelphia Church served as the earliest sponsor and became the initial training ground for men and women entering the ministry. By 1954, the school had been incorporated as a state-recognized institution and had expanded its curriculum to include a solid four-year ministry training program.
In 1956, it was agreed by the church and college that the school become separate from the church in location, policy, and administration. Chicago Bible College moved into a new home on December 1, 1956 at 6007 N. Sheridan Road in Chicago. After a number of years at this beautiful mansion home on the shores of Lake Michigan, the larger facilities of the Lake View Covenant Church were purchased by the college. This former church and classroom facility also included a 3-story apartment building used as a dormitory. This 1043 W. School Street location became home for the Chicago Bible College for the next 15 years.
The fall of 1976 brought startling changes for the ministry of C.B.C. when Dr. Russell Meade, President since 1954, passed away. Upon Dr. Meade's death, Rev. Robert J. Anderson was appointed to serve as interim president from 1977 to 1981. Dr. Daryl Merrill, then the Vice President and Academic Dean of the College, had become the pastor of Christian Assembly Church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. This church grew under the blessing of the Lord and expanded until they secured facilities of a newer type, a school being closed in Mt. Prospect, a suburb northwest of the city. In the summer of 1977, the college board of directors voted to leave the older, city location to share newer classroom facilitates with Christian Assembly. God blessed this move with an increased enrollment and enlarged faculty. The curriculum was also expanded to include a night school program.
The union of the ministries was so mutually beneficial to both the church and the college that in January 1981, Chicago Bible College voted to share the same philosophy and direction with Christian Assembly. Shortly thereafter, Chicago Bible College and Christian Assembly Church jointly purchased larger facilities at the present location in Mt. Prospect at Rand Road and Gregory Street. Reflecting this bond, in June of the same year, the college and the church made name changes to Christian Life College and Christian Life Church.
In 1984 preparation began for degree-granting approval with the Illinois State Board of Higher Education. Two years later the first phase of this application was filed. On May 5, 1987, Christian Life College was approved by the State of Illinois, Board of Higher Education to grant Associate of Arts and Bachelor of Arts degrees in Pastoral Studies, Christian Education, and Music Ministry. Christian Life College began a self-study process in 1996 with the goal of working toward full accreditation.
After serving as college president for fifteen years, Rev. Daryl Merrill resigned in January of 1996. He was elected as chairman of the Board of Directors and President Emeritus: Rev. Harry Schmidt, former Executive Vice President of the College was installed in May of 1996 and serves as the current President.