2023 AFLC Annual Conference Report

FLBCS Leadership answers questions at the 2022 AFLC Annual Conference

The following report was presented to the 2023 Annual Conference of the AFLC on June 15, 2023 in Sioux Falls, SD and summarized in the video below.

Free Lutheran Bible College and Seminary Combined Report to the 2023 AFLC Annual Conference 

To the Sixty-First Annual Conference of the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations gathered in Sioux Falls, SD, June 14-17, 2023. As we read the theme verse from1 Corinthians 15:57 we celebrate and rely up on the truth therein: …  But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. We are grateful to the congregations, individuals, parents, and students who generously contribute to the Free Lutheran Bible College & Seminary (FLBCS). We rely every day upon Christ’s finished work and the favor and provision of the Living God. We would not exist, let alone thrive, without the prayers and support we receive. 

Our mission 

FLBCS continues to establish students in the eternal and inerrant Word of God for a life of faith in Jesus Christ and faithful service in His kingdom. That mission, stated this way for the past decade, persists since our founding almost 60 years ago. Our every consideration begins with the question “how do we best fulfill our mission?” This mission is fulfilled directly in the lives of our students, and by extension in families, congregations, and communities across this land and around the world. The Board of Trustees stewards this mission as a sacred trust from God. 

The mission of FLBCS is to establish students in the eternal and inerrant Word of God for a life of faith in Jesus Christ and faithful service in His kingdom. 

Promises 

Our mission statement is a promise that we make to students, supporters, and congregations. Through a recent strategic planning process, we were challenged to put into words the content and character of the promises we make or imply to our students. If a prospective FLBC or FLS student walks onto campus, we can look them in the eye and tell them what to expect. 

We promise that at Free Lutheran Bible College (FLBC) you will learn from great teachers to love the Scripture and the author of it. They will care for you, walk with you, and introduce you to the truth of the Bible. Here you will find a warm, encouraging community of people like you who want to know and follow Jesus more deeply. You will learn in great facilities on a beautiful campus that provides places to study, think, pray, and reflect. Here you will find a sure foundation for your life and prepare you for a lifetime of service in your congregation and calling. 

We promise that at Free Lutheran Seminary (FLS) you will be mentored by professors who will care for you and prepare you to shepherd God’s people and preach the Word in the congregation with impact. Here you will be immersed in the Word of God and historic Lutheran doctrine and find fellowship with peers in a community that will pray for you, care for you, walk with you, and encourage you. You will leave here with ministry opportunities, little to no seminary student debt, and the confidence to fulfill God’s calling on your life and vocation. 

Such statements put “feet” on our mission. Pondering the eternal results of keeping such promises is invigorating.  

Free Lutheran Seminary (FLS) 

This year FLS instructed 16 students. Four were graduated in May, one is currently on internship, and two will be third-year students in the fall. Seven second-year students will join at least eight first-year students as studies begin this fall. An encouraging number of men are considering future ministry training, as well.  

It is a privilege to invest in the lives of seminarians and their families as they prepare for potential future ministry. God has been doing a great work in our seminary. Among the responsibilities of the Seminary Dean are program development and review, classroom instruction, soul care, and connecting with future seminarians. God has blessed FLS with a tremendous faculty, including full-time, part-time, and adjunct instructors who are listed at the end of this report. These dedicated professors teach the Bible exegetically, along with systematic theology and some of the practical “how-to” elements of pastoral ministry. Students learn the original languages, how to preach, what to teach, and how best to relate to souls in the congregation. 

Seminary training, though, extends beyond the classroom. The trend in pastoral education has been quicker, cheaper, and easier. But we have found that life and ministry are anything but quick, cheap, and easy. Future pastors need more training, not less, as they encounter an increasingly complex world. The academics at FLS are excellent, but our training goes beyond academics. Students and their families are nurtured and mentored while on campus, extending to a congregational internship in the fourth year of study. The in-person nature of our instruction emphasizes the “incarnational” aspects of Christian theology and pastoral ministry. Students coming out of FLS will understand both the public and private nature of pastoral ministry. They will be mature and growing, possessing Biblical knowledge and pastoral skill, all while embracing lifelong learning for the benefit of the congregation.  

Free Lutheran Bible College (FLBC) 

This academic year has been a blessing for several reasons, not least of which it is the most “normal” year we’ve had since the pandemic. We began the year with 102 students, and thanks to an unusually large influx of students at the semester break, we finished the year with 108. Most students who joined us at break came because of the recruiting efforts of some of our current students who encouraged their friends to come. In each case, it is encouraging to see students commit this time to the study of God’s Word. A strong recruiting class gives reason to anticipate continued growth in what is already among the largest programs of its kind, focusing narrowly on Bible and Ministry.  

FLBC– Scripture without Distraction 

We have always fulfilled our mission by bringing God’s Word to students. We tell our students that our mission is not to teach them Scripture so they can win Bible trivia contests, but to proclaim and teach God’s Word because it transforms lives. Through His Word, God saves, convicts, equips, and calls believers to serve in the greater body of Christ through the local congregation.  

The pressures and influences that our students have experienced are consistent with the rudderless morality of culture. This has always been true, but the way this looks– and the questions students ask– are changing. Obstacles to faith shift, but the unchanging Word answers these questions and breaks down obstacles. By God’s grace, we approach our ministry at FLBC with Holy Spirit-led wisdom, applying timeless truth to the culture in which we live.  

One way this is seen in our program is the expansion of worldview and apologetics offerings. Students learn to grapple with cultural trends and arguments, understanding how Scripture answers common questions. Our students learn not only in class but in events like our Spotlight conferences. This year we were pleased to welcome Megan Almon (from Summit Ministries) and Nancy Pearcey (best-selling author of numerous books) to speak on the issues of life and sexuality/gender, respectively. Students learn a winsome and biblical approach to these issues and others. 

FLBC– Discipleship without Distance 

On-campus, in-person ministry is now considered “non-traditional” on many college campuses. Students have become accustomed to picking and choosing their way through various curricula, building their own program to receive a degree from a college whose campus they may never visit. There is nothing inherently evil about online education, especially in matters that require certification or information.  

But it is nearly impossible to build disciples at a distance. The intentional, incarnational discipleship of our students is a defining characteristic of our program. FLBC builds its program around the presumption that students will live on campus, benefiting from a staff trained to disciple students through the ups and downs of life, preparing them for days ahead. Students living in dorms have the opportunity to sin, forgive, redeem, and restore.  

The success of our program increases as godly mentors connect with our students while they are here. We have been prayerfully considering ways to increase these opportunities with our students. God answered those prayers as Jeremy Larson has agreed to serve part-time as the Director of Spiritual Formation while he attends seminary. This change is the largest part of a continuing commitment to campus life as discipleship. Mr. Larson will oversee the discipleship portion of our program, training and equipping the dorm staff and other mentors to engage in discipleship of our students. This area of ministry was a focus for Mr. Larson during his time at St. Paul’s Lutheran in Fargo, ND, and we are grateful to have him as part of this team.  

FLBC– Ministry in the Congregation 

Student engagement in the local congregation remains a focus of our mission. We train students in God’s Word to serve in the local congregation. Over the past few years, we have seen a strong interest of our students to connect with and serve in congregations during their time on campus. This is due largely to alumni serving in area congregations who connect our students with opportunities to be involved. Many students help with local youth groups, kids’ ministries, teach Sunday school, or participate in leading worship. Several students have also had opportunities to preach in the area. This has happened in years past, but these past couple of years stand out as exceptional in my years on campus. Many thanks go to our local congregations for providing these opportunities for our students. We are excited to see those relationships develop and grow, as that fruit is a strong indication of the success or our FLBC program.  

Other, familiar ministries of FLBC continue. Gospel teams were more active this year than in any year since the pandemic started. Over spring break, the Concert Choir toured the West coast, performing 12 concerts with large attendances. The Proclaim Choir toured Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois on two separate weekends. The Cross-cultural ministries classes served in Oaxaca, Mexico at a children’s home called Foundations for His Ministry. And this year we have seven summer teams, including the Ambassadors, ministering to our AFLC congregations and camps across the country. The overwhelming majority of our students (~90%+) participate in one or more of these ministries.  

More than Academics 

At its core, FLBCS is a distinctively Christian institution of higher education. Our mission of establishing students in the eternal and inerrant Word of God is unique among our peers. We are not the only great place to go to college, but our narrow focus on Bible and Ministry– with the majority of our classes coming from exegetical theology– is without comparison. That narrow focus also narrows the field of prospective students, thus our emphasis on Start here, go anywhere, grounded in God’s Word.  

The vast majority of our graduates will finish degrees in something other than Bible and Ministry but will do so with a solid grasp on Bible and Ministry. They will continue on to some combination of occupation (what they do for a living) and vocation (how they live for Christ in the family, congregation, and community), possessing a solid foundation that will inform both their attitudes and actions, while at the same time launching their lives on a trajectory that will impact their posterity.  

“Academic” is sometimes used as pejorative to trivialize the educational endeavor. The academic atmosphere at FLBCS is anything but trivial. There are more rigorous college programs, but our practice is “rigorous accessibility,” providing rigor to every student while at the same time providing access to almost every student. We have invested significant resources to provide emotional health and academic support to our students, needs that have become more pronounced (or more widely observed) in recent years. 

The Seminary program is rigorous indeed, surpassing that of most peers, but paling in comparison to the challenges of the past, including the program at Augsburg during the founding of the Lutheran Free Church. At the same time, students enter our seminary with a wider variety of personal challenges and leave our seminary to encounter congregations with a wider variety of societal challenges, making the educational enterprise more challenging, indeed.  

In both programs we reject the view that academic rigor and spiritual life are mutually exclusive. Academic rigor and integrity are tools used to shape the student. If the curriculum is the Word of God, God Himself will shape that student as He deems useful. Students go to class, do their homework, and follow through on commitments they make to one another and the institution. These commitments continue through the rest of students’ lives.  

Both the FLBC and FLS programs focus on in-person instruction. Online education has its place, but our program is built on in-person, face to face ministry. At the same time, FLBCS is providing more content (usually not for credit) to support and encourage interested parties. You can participate live in events like Summer Institute of Theology or our new January Symposium and find various archived resources on our web site. 

Board Governance 

The primary duty of our Board of Trustees, as elected by the Free Lutheran Theological Seminary Corporation, is to steward the mission and the resources of FLBCS. Our Board of Trustees takes that stewardship seriously, laboring hard to make good decisions that will lead to establishing students in the Word of God in a way that will impact future families, congregations, and communities. Our every consideration begins with– then returns to and ends with– the question How do we best establish students in the Word of God for life in Jesus Christ and faithful service in His kingdom.  

The Board of Trustees is thankful for the founders of FLBCS who had the vision to train young people for lay and vocational ministry in our congregations. We thank God for those who pray and give faithfully and sacrificially to help students attend at a reasonable out of pocket cost. We thank God for each student who comes to the Bible College and Seminary to study God’s Word.  We thank God for the administration and staff and their unwavering and sacrificial commitment to the mission of FLBCS. 

Almost two years ago the Board of Trustees began a board governance training process that has provided great benefit to FLBCS. The board governance training was very helpful for us in understanding our fiduciary roles on the board, which emphasizes our stewardship of FLBCS and its mission, reminding us to keep our mission the primary focus of what we do and not to stray from it. The mission of establishing students in the Word of God for life in Jesus Christ and faithful service in His kingdom is built upon the founding documents of FLBCS. From our Lutheran Free Church heritage, we understand that according to Scripture, “faithful service in His kingdom” refers to the congregation as the right form of the Kingdom of God on earth, so our focus needs to always be on what can best help our congregations. 

We left the process of board governance training with five key takeaways: 

  1. Refresh our Strategic Plan to reflect significant board involvement. 
  1. Develop a comprehensive succession and transition plan for the President and a few other key positions. 
  1. Identify key performance indicators and develop a dashboard to report progress to the Board of Trustees. 
  1. Start using mission/margin quadrants to evaluate investments in new/ongoing programs/initiatives. 
  1. Strengthen interaction between our Board of Trustees and the Corporation. This would include cultivation of new Board members, subcommittee membership, and Board evaluation. 

More will be said below about the strategic plan. Please note two of the other action items.  

Succession Planning 

The Board of Trustees and Administration is taking steps to build strategic depth at FLBCS, exposing more people to the inner workings of the school so our future success depends less on the individuals involved and more on the mission and business model of our institution. We are building a Bible College and Seminary that will not just exist and survive, but endure and thrive, to the end that congregations will do likewise.  

Mission/Margin Evaluation 

One simple guide to decision making for a governing board is mission/margin evaluation. If some consideration is key to our mission, it deserves more resources and demands more risk tolerance. Conversely, if something is superfluous to our mission, it deserves neither. These considerations are obvious at the poles, but mission/margin evaluation becomes quite valuable in more medial latitudes. The pastoral training portion of our program is essential for the health of AFLC congregations, so even though seminary training is extremely expensive (here or anywhere) it is worth the investment. The more a potential development fulfills our mission the more valuable it becomes. Our resources follow that value calculation. 

Accreditation 

The benefits of accreditation at FLBCS have been uniformly positive and valuable. Our journey through board governance training, and then into strategic planning, and now into a more directed, formal approach to donor relations all began with people and processes we met through accreditation. The process of accreditation was undertaken, in the words of the late Dr. Fran Monseth, “to make us sharper.” And indeed, it has.  

FLBCS is accredited through the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS), a distinctively Christian accreditation agency. They demand that we adhere to our mission, institutional objectives, and values. They are one layer of what holds us accountable to do what we say we are going to do– to keep our promises to our students, employees, congregations, and donors.   

This past year we have been working toward reaffirmation of accreditation. With a lot of hard work by a lot of people we were approved in late April and continue to be accredited by TRACS. We are thankful for TRACS and the expectation of excellence they demand. Accreditation demands a well-considered plan along with excellence in carrying out that plan. Establishing students in the Word of God must be done with care and consideration. 

FLBCS also enjoys associate membership with the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE), another distinctively Christian accreditation agency that has a longer history of working with colleges out of the Bible Institute movement. Board governance training came to us because of a gift from one of our donors along with a very large gift from a foundation that gave to ABHE for the benefit of institutions like ours.  

Through accreditation we have met friends, supporters, and like-minded institutions, while at the same time gaining access to information, perspective, and procedures that we simply didn’t know or understand before. Among other benefits we have learned or gained: 

  • Adherence to mission 
  • Definition of institutional objectives, program outcomes, course objectives, and learning outcomes 
  • Academic excellence and integrity 
  • Financial accountability, including five-year operational budgets and projections 
  • Staffing efficiency, including job descriptions, a board-approved org chart, employee reviews, and compensation evaluation 
  • Construction of a strategic plan with broad input and operational connection 
  • Credit transfer has been significantly improved  

Accreditation is not costly, but it is very valuable. Between the two associations from which we benefit, the total five-year cost is approximately $75,000 plus some administrative time, likely one-half to one full time equivalent administrator. This adds up to someplace between 1-2% of our annual budget. The reality is, though, that everything we do for accreditation is what we should be doing for the benefit of FLBCS anyway, so there is limited actual cost involved. If we serve our mission well accreditation comes with it, and the process of accreditation helps us serve our mission well.  

Strategic Plan 

Perhaps the most significant action item from board governance training was refreshing our strategic plan. Having a strategic plan is a requirement of accreditation and the best practice in strategic planning is to have the board significantly involved in its development. Since none of us on the board or administration had significant experience in developing a strategic plan, we worked with the consultant we used for board governance training. We benefited greatly from the process as we learned not only how to develop a plan but also how to put it to use and keep it fresh. The plan we adopted in January 2023 is a three-year rolling plan that will be updated every year, thus we will always be in year one of our strategic plan, adding the new third year to the plan each year. The plan is not something to check off a box for accreditation, but a working plan to guide the school over the next several years. 

The goal of our strategic planning process was to discern God’s will for the future of FLBCS and write a plan to achieve it, helping us take action that will improve on the status quo to better fulfill our mission. The strategic planning team consisted of four board members, six administration members, and two alumni. Input was sought at several points from key contributors outside the strategic planning team, as well. The starting point and anchor for this process was the School’s founding documents – Constitution and bylaws, AFLC Fundamental Principles, the School’s mission, institutional objectives, Core Values, and program outcomes for the Seminary and Bible College. 

Our plan consists of these five strategic goals, all of which “come due” in June 2026: 

  1. FLBCS will be successfully standing against the increased pressures of conformity and compromise. 
  1. FLBCS will be operating with a balanced budget and have established a $10M endowment and a 9-month operating reserve. 
  1. FLBCS will have increased enrollment in the Bible College to 160 while maintaining its theological integrity and campus culture. 
  1. FLBCS will be offering an AA and BA in Bible and Ministry and will graduate its first BA cohort. 
  1. FLBCS will be implementing at least three new outreach emphases and practices that are employing the values and skills of its students and graduates to impact the AFLC. 

We developed a goal summary sheet for each of the goals that discusses how each goal exemplifies our core values, aligns with our mission, and achieves our institutional objectives. You can find more at www.flbc.edu/strategicplan

Program Development 

The goal of offering an Associate of Arts (AA) and a Bachelor of Arts (BA), both in Bible and Ministry, is an exciting goal that came from the strategic planning process. We are confident that such offerings will enhance our mission of establishing students in the eternal and inerrant Word of God for a life of faith in Jesus Christ and faithful service in his kingdom. This is true for several reasons. 

Students will experience even more high-quality education in the Word of God with a focus on congregational application. It will allow us to teach students the Word while enhancing our ability to teach them to think, speak, read, write, and listen. Also, offering the BA degree will allow students pursuing vocational ministry to plug into local AFLC church ministries for a longer period, hopefully leading to the development of some internship programs. As the Word is taught and students are prepared to communicate that Word in a variety of ways congregations benefit. It is a kingdom win.  

Further, it will allow students to more fully explore emphases or concentrations of ministry that they may be called to. Some of these emphases could be in areas such as music worship leading, youth ministry, church planting, cross-cultural ministry, pre-seminary studies, sports ministry as well as others. Some of these will allow opportunities for us to cooperate with other AFLC ministries. As our students are eager to engage in ministry, these emphases will more thoroughly prepare them for a life of service in the Kingdom of God.  

Also, some of the major barriers for students coming to FLBC is the “what will I get when I leave” or “will my credits transfer” questions. While no college is required to take another’s credits, transferring credits packaged as a degree is far easier than transferring individual credits. Individual credits may not transfer well because of a failure to satisfy requirements of degrees our students are seeking. A degree compiles these credits together in a package that is recognized by other higher education institutions increasing the likelihood of transferability.  

The students at the Bible College already attend a two-year course in Bible and Ministry and many people assume that comes with an Associate of Arts (AA) degree. The AA degree should be relatively easy to achieve for many of our students since they come with some college credits already in areas they need to fulfil the AA requirements. Some students come with enough general education credits to be close to fulfilling the requirements for the Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree. Those taking pre-seminary courses for the BA degree could easily transfer right into the Seminary. 

Written on Human Hearts 

One key takeaway from our strategic planning process was the realization that “establishing” is something that is hard to measure. We can’t control, ultimately, if someone is established in God’s Word or not, but we can measure two valuable areas. 

First, we can measure our outputs– What we do to provide students the opportunity to be established in God’s Word for life in Jesus Christ. These efforts are then funded and staffed. People, not programs, make disciples. Every employee we hire, whether involved in teaching, administration, cleaning, cooking, maintenance, or discipleship has a job description that ties his or her activity toward carrying out our mission. Our staff works long, hard hours to provide opportunity for students to be established in God’s Word. All of us are here for the mission, as nothing else can compete with a mission so important. 

Second, we can measure the long-term effects of the education and discipleship that we provide. We see it in the improving health of AFLC congregations. We see it in marriages and families that are thriving even through a sometimes-challenging society. We see it in the work of former students who return to be a part of providing to other students what they themselves valued when they were here. There is a reason that most of our employees are graduates, and that some of our most energetic and committed employees are our youngest, most recent graduates.  

Put another way, we see the effects of establishing students in the eternal and inerrant Word of God in letters written on human hearts: Families, congregations, communities, and society. The FLBC Alumni Association embodies this benefit by fostering connections to continue “Ministry through the congregation.” In the last few years, the Alumni Association has worked closely with FLBC to promote alumni giving and events, including the Alumni Basketball Tournament, regional picnics, and specific giving initiatives. For more, stay in touch with the FLBC Alumni Association at www.flbc.edu/alumni

God’s Provision 

The Board of Trustees not only stewards the mission of FLBCS but also its resources. We strive to make the best use of every dollar given for the benefit of our students. Despite several challenging years the overall financial health of FLBCS is quite positive. You will find simplified balance sheets from 2016, 2019, and 2022 below: 

In the 2021-2022 fiscal year (ending July 31, 2022) 562 individuals and 185 congregations gave a total of $3,251,241 to Free Lutheran Bible College and Seminary. We simply could not provide what we provide to our students without that help, and this giving has been consistent and growing. This amount is in addition to scholarship funds given by individuals, civic groups, and congregations, many of which provide significant help to students paying their accounts. Donors continue to be generous and supportive, and we thank God for their stewardship of His blessings. 

Last year’s report talked about inflation, a phenomenon that became evident in January 2022, was magnified later in the year, and now has moderated somewhat, though at a rate alarming to those accustomed to a 2-3% variance each year. Inflation has been a problem everywhere in the United States, but more so in Minnesota, and even more so in the metropolitan area. Further, specific segments disproportionally affecting operational costs at FLBCS were even more prone to inflation. These include energy (everyone felt this), food service (common, lower cost ingredients inflated more than others), and lower wage hourly labor (student workers who had made $8-9 per hour now require $14-17 per hour).  

In chart form, from last October’s State of FLBCS fiscal year-end report, it looked like this. This year’s slope will moderate, but it’s still going up. To put it in words, energy, food, and labor costs have risen at FLBCS by about 50% over five years. And this isn’t for more or better; in some cases, it is less of each. During the same time, thanks to hard work and efficiency, the per student cost has only gone up from $28,000 to $33,000, an increase of only 18%.  

But measures taken to fight inflation with belt tightening only last so long. Our budgeting process is 18 months in arrears, so the lag between decisions made and benefit gained is substantial. Eventually you must fix the biggest problem in the financial model. And that problem is that FLBC has never charged anywhere close to what it really costs to train students.  

In the industry, charging less than what it costs to train a student is called a “tuition discount rate,” and tuition discount rate is a killer. If you charge $10,000 for a $20,000 education (a 50% tuition discount rate), every student you recruit must come with a $10,000 donor. Every student costs you money. That is why at the peak of FLBC enrollment at the turn of the century FLBC had more students than ever but lost money. This is also why state colleges and universities had an enrollment cap at the same time– there were more college-aged students then and the increased numbers outpaced donors (or in the case of public institutions, tax base). 

Historically, FLBC (the seminary is less affected) has had a tuition discount rate between 50-70%. Some of this was made possible by generous donors, a generosity that continues. But a lot of that “discount” came from too-lean staffing, under-compensated employees, and delayed or deferred maintenance. When a college doesn’t charge what it really costs, reserving funds for maintenance and replacement, it ends up not having money to repave a driveway, fix a chapel roof, replace aging furniture, or replace 50+ year old windows and doors in dormitories. Tuition discount rate is a killer. Nobody sees what it really costs to educate a student.  

Thankfully, generous donors continue to give to various projects, including over $100,000 given in the past year to dorm furnishings, concrete work, classroom furnishings, classroom technology, new podiums for classrooms, commons area furnishings, chapel furnishings and maintenance, a nursery for young children in the chapel, and a commercial wok for Chef Matt Petschl. Project-designated gifts, though, only go so far, and “we need this for that deferred maintenance project” is a difficult conversation with mission-driven donors. 

Additionally, FLBC has always provided excellent education with no government-based student aid. We do this to protect the distinctively Biblical and Christ-centered nature of our program. Where other institutions receive thousands of dollars per student in taxpayer funds, FLBC must find a way to bridge the gap or go without. Even with our recent increases in tuition, room, board, and fees, FLBC is still the least expensive college in Minnesota, especially when the cost of a place to live, food to eat, and people to cook, wash dishes, clean, and move snow is considered. 

During the 2018-2019 academic year the Board of Trustees made a structural adjustment to tuition, room, board, and fees, an adjustment that put FLBC in position to make only inflationary adjustments going forward. At 2-4% that would have worked. But if inflation does what it has over the past few years we just can’t keep up. A change in our financial model was needed, and such has been reflected in charges for the 2023-2024 academic year.  

As an example, if your favorite bakery charges $1 for the best donut in town, everyone is happy. But if that donut costs $2 to make, and the other $1 is paid for by a generous neighbor, the cost is distorted by a “pastry discount rate” of 50%. Pastry discount rate is a killer. Here’s why: If inflation hits that neighborhood, raising the cost of donuts by 50% over a given period, that same donut now costs $3 to make instead of $2. The bakery raises its prices by 50%, much to the chagrin of the customer base, making the donut cost $1.50. But you see the problem. The bakery is still losing 50 cents on every donut. Something must give. You can reduce the size of the donut or the quality of the donut. Or you can ask the neighbor who is still giving $1 to give $1.50 instead. That doesn’t seem right. Eventually you must charge $2 for the best donut in town. If the bakery doesn’t do that it will become your favorite former bakery. 

All of that to say, the amount billed to students has increased substantially from last year to this year, reflecting not only inflation but also a change in the way we think about finances at FLBCS. We have taken this approach to solidify the future of FLBC while offering an unbeatable value to all our students, helping those who have specific need, and rewarding those with exceptional academic records. You can find a lot more on this at https://flbc.edu/tuition-aid/.  

Students will now see what the per student cost is every year but will also benefit from an “AFLC Congregational Grant,” an amount that comes directly from undesignated gifts to FLBCS. In the 2023-2024 academic year this will amount to $13,000 per student, approximately $1.4 million from generous donors. Additional funds– far more than ever before– have been reserved and/or given for internally-awarded need-based financial aid and merit-based scholarships, some up to half tuition.  

Per student 2021-2022 2022-2023 2023-2024 
Cost $27,000 $31,950 $33,000 
Congregational Grant (by %) 51.7% 53.2% 39.1% 
Billed $13,030 $14,945 $20,100 
*Net after internal aid $12,000 $13,500 $17,000 

*Median- range varies widely 

This new approach separates the questions “What does it cost to attend FLBC?” and “How am I going to pay for college?” FLBC, with the help of donors, provides a great educational experience at a reasonable price. But ultimately, the student is responsible for paying his or her bill. Thanks to readily available, high-paying, part-time work, students can still work their way through two years of college debt free if they have one semester paid for by a combination of college savings, parental or congregational help, or FLBC-granted financial aid and scholarships. 

We would like to say a special thank you to those who have generously contributed to the FLBC and FLS Scholarship Funds. As of December 31, 2022, FLBCS has approximately $1.6 million in scholarship and endowment Funds that are used to provide financial assistance to Seminary and Bible College students. During the ’22-’23 school year, $120,960 was disbursed for FLS Scholarships and $128,625 was disbursed for FLBC Scholarships.  

The proposed FLBCS budget for the 2023-2024 fiscal year is $4,236,453. Based on this projected budget, the Board of Trustees request the Annual Conference to approve a subsidy for the 2024 calendar year of $286,371 for the Seminary and $470,867 for the Bible College. Both subsidy requests are the same amounts as requested last year.  

Establishing students in the Word of God for life in Jesus Christ 

Thank you for your support of Free Lutheran Bible College and Seminary, our students, and our essential, focused mission. You are impacting students, families, congregations, and communities for Jesus Christ. What we do, we could not do, without you. Thank you.  

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the LORD is a great God, and a great king above all gods.” –Psalm 95:1-3 (ESV) 

Serving in Christ’s Name and Under Christ’s Care, 

Mr. Phil Johnson, Board of Trustees Chair 

Rev. Dr. Wade Mobley, President 

Rev. Dr. James Molstre, FLS Dean and Chief Academic Officer 

Rev. Adam Osier, FLBC Dean 

Mr. Larry Myhrer, Chief Financial Officer 

Mrs. Sherry Mork, Executive Assistant and Director of Donor Relations 

On behalf of the Board of Trustees, faculty, staff, and administration of FLBCS 

Thank you to many; Thank God for them all. 

Valued Volunteers 

Board of Trustees 

  • Mr. Dean Nelson (has completed one, five-year term and is eligible for re-election) 
  • Rev. Todd Erickson (Thank you for completing two, five-year terms, and serving as Chair) 
  • Mr. Phil Johnson (Chair) 
  • Mr. Don Balmer (Vice Chair) 
  • Rev. Dr. Jason Gudim (Secretary) 
  • Rev. Alan Arneson 
  • Mr. Gary Erickson 

Internship locations/supervisors 

  • Grace Free Lutheran and Zion Lutheran, Valley City, ND; Rev. Dennis Norby 
  • St. Paul’s Free Lutheran; Fargo, ND; Rev. Micah Hjermstad and Mr. Jeremy Larson 
  • Prince of Peace Lutheran; Beulah, ND; Rev. Kent Sperry 
  • Emmaus Lutheran; Bloomington, MN; Rev. Nick Dyrud 
  • Our Saviour’s Free Lutheran and Reiner Lutheran; TRF, MN; Rev. Alex Amiot (2023-24) 

Seminary Wives Program Leaders 

  • Mrs. Michele Mobley 
  • Mrs. Kristin Molstre 
  • Alumni Association Leadership 
  • Mr. Stephen Quanbeck 
  • Miss Christina Osthus 
  • Mr. Tim Larson 
  • Mrs. Angie Berg 
  • Mrs. Myrna Anderson 

Strategic Planning Team 

  • Miss Madi Greven 
  • Mrs. Gwen Berge 
  • Mrs. Katie High 
  • Mr. Dean Nelson 
  • Mr. Phil Johnson 
  • Rev. Todd Erickson 
  • Rev. Alan Arneson 
  • Mrs. Sherry Mork 
  • Rev. Dr. James Molstre 
  • Rev. Adam Osier 
  • Mr. Larry Myhrer 
  • Rev. Dr. Wade Mobley 

Faculty, Staff, and Administration  

Any comprehensive list is a dreadful undertaking, for fear of omitting a precious partner in ministry, and we have done our best to catch all errors and omissions. Some employees have yet to begin their service, while others completed their service during the past year. Some employees are very part time, some work remotely, and others have more than one area of service but are listed only once. All are valued parts of establishing students in the eternal and inerrant Word of God for a life of faith in Jesus Christ and faithful service in His kingdom.  

Full Time Faculty 

  • Mr. Andrew Hanson 
  • Rev. Dr. Jerry Moan 
  • Rev. Stephen Mundfrom 
  • Rev. Dr. Brent Olson 
  • Rev. Dr. Nathan Olson 
  • Part Time and Adjunct Faculty 
  • Mr. Andrew Abel 
  • Dr. Oliver Blosser 
  • Rev. Dr. Jason Gudim 
  • Rev. Dr. Phil Haugen 
  • Rev. Dr. Jason Holt 
  • Rev. Brian Lunn 
  • Mrs. Rebecca Moan 
  • Mr. Jonathan Nelson 

Staff 

  • Miss Cindy Beck 
  • Miss Annah Behne 
  • Dr. Brad Bierle 
  • Mrs. Sarah Bierle  
  • Miss Jackelyn Bingham 
  • Mr. Josh Bostrom 
  • Pastor Eric Christenson 
  • Mrs. Marian Christopherson 
  • Mrs. Breanna Chvojicek 
  • Miss Caitlin Curtice 
  • Mr. Brett Erickson 
  • Mrs. Jean Erickson 
  • Mr. Cameron Fouks 
  • Mrs. Michelle Franz 
  • Mrs. Wendy Greven 
  • Miss Ruth Gunderson 
  • Mr. Josh Johnson 
  • Mr. Dalton Jordahl 
  • Miss Kalei Kerby 
  • Mr. Carter Kneeland 
  • Miss Emily Kregel 
  • Mr. Jeremy Larson 
  • Mr. Adam McCarlson 
  • Mr. Isaiah Miller 
  • Mr. Micah Moan 
  • Miss Rachel Molstre 
  • Mr. Glenn Mork 
  • Miss Heather Olson 
  • Mrs. Courtney Osier 
  • Miss Olivia Pavlish 
  • Mr. Matt Petschl 
  • Mr. Luke Quanbeck 
  • Mrs. Rachel Ryerson 
  • Mr. Logan Strand 
  • Mr. Alec Thicke 
  • Mrs. Rachel Woodworth 

Administration 

  • Mrs. Katie High 
  • Dr. Andrew Kneeland 
  • Rev. Dr. Wade Mobley 
  • Rev. Dr. James Molstre 
  • Mrs. Sherry Mork 
  • Mr. Larry Myhrer 
  • Rev. Adam Osier 

FLBC

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