President Harold Graves Jr.
NBC in Transition
Since 1967 the mission of Nazarene Bible College has been to prepare adults to evangelize, disciple, and minister to the world. For nearly 50 years, God’s “called ones” came from coast to coast and border to border to prepare for ministry on the campus in Colorado Springs. Lives have been eternally changed by the lessons learned, the fellowship found, and the calling confirmed.
We now face a pivotal point in the history of Nazarene Bible College. I reported to the NBC Board of Trustees in September 2016 that the decline in campus enrollment had reached a critical point for sustainability for the campus operations. Despite extraordinary efforts to increase campus enrollment, the 40 year decline continues unabated. While last year we had over 1,000 students take a class from NBC, the campus enrollment was only 73. We concluded that the operational costs of the campus had become a hindrance to the mission of the college.
Throughout our nearly 50-year history, Nazarene Bible College has been innovative in its approach to educating people for ministry. Adapting to the trends in adult education has been deeply embedded in our DNA.
- In 1967, we opened our doors as the first Church of the Nazarene Bible College for adults in the United States.
- Recognizing the trend to decentralize adult education, the college began supporting district-level, localized training centers in the Church of the Nazarene across the United States.
- In 1998, the college initiated the online program with 61 students. NBC was on the cutting edge of fulfilling its mission through this innovative method of providing distance education.
- In the past decade, the college has continued a pattern of innovation with the development of the AdVantage program (an accelerated degree completion program), the Hispanic Pastoral Ministries major (a Spanish language and contextualized version of the longstanding Pastoral Ministries major), a partnership with the Hong Kong Institute of Christian Counseling, and a partnership with The Salvation Army. These programs have been primarily online and not on the campus.
Once again, we face the challenge of choosing innovative change or simply accepting the conditions as they exist. The trends of a declining campus enrollment and the growing operational costs of an aging campus force us to be innovative in our approach to preparing adults for ministry or see NBC fade into the sunset.
I’m not ready for the sun to set on NBC. It is our mission that compels us. We do not exist for a place; we are driven by a purpose. Today our mission takes place primarily in coffee shops, libraries, offices, under a shade tree, on a picnic table, and in homes. The classroom is found on computers, tablets, and smart phones. Anywhere a student can find an internet connection, our mission takes place.
While we face logistical challenges that will require change, our mission of preparing men and women for ministry remains unchanged.
Our proposal to the Board of Trustees is for a “New NBC” – one that reflects that the college is an online institution with a leaner organizational structure, a relocated center of operations, outsourced support services, and a full-time faculty that serves the college from remote locations.
The following outline describes our proposed steps to move the college forward and ensure its sustainability:
- Sell the 18-acre developed campus property and the adjoining undeveloped 23 acres.
- Relocate college operations to the Church of the Nazarene’s Global Ministry Center (GMC) in Lenexa, Kansas.
- Provide a path to completion for current campus students.
- Collaborate with Colorado Springs First Church for classroom space, as we help current campus students complete their education.
Certainly, I have mixed feelings. As Dave Ramsey says, “Change is painful. Few people have the courage to seek out change.” Since 1993, I have served as a member of the NBC Board of Trustees. For 13 years I visited this campus for meetings, and for the past 11 years I have lived and worked here as President. My heart is heavy, for I love this place. But I love the mission of the college above all else.
My heaviness is made lighter as I think about a new future for NBC. The greatest medal winner in Olympic history was asked after he swam his last race in Rio: “Michael, is this the end of your career?” Michael Phelps pondered the question and answered, “It’s not the end of a career. It’s the beginning of a new journey. I’m really looking forward to that.” Our proposal is not for the end of NBC. Our plan is the beginning of a new journey - an exciting new venture for the future of preparing men and women for ministry.
Socrates wrote: “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” I commit to you that we will focus our energy on building a “New NBC.” I am optimistic that the “New NBC” will be viable, vital, and visionary in fulfilling its mission.
I close with the words of Proverbs 23:18: “There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.”
From the Desk of the President:
Dr. Harold B. Graves, Jr.