Blake Larson had been an ordained minister for five years at Liberty Church in Havelock, North Carolina when he discovered the flexible educational opportunities available through Christian Life School of Theology Global (CLSTG). Although he had explored several different options for achieving his educational goals in the past, none of those he’s researched would’ve allowed him to stay on staff serving at his church while earning his degree.
Now, he’s completed an associates degree, bachelor’s degree and is earning his master’s degree in Biblical Theology.
In 2010, he joined the staff at Liberty Church and was ordained two years later. Since then, he’s served in various capacities including youth pastor, and is currently the associate pastor.
When he initially heard about CLSTG, he looked into how the options available might allow him to continue his role at the church while achieving his educational goals. He was amazed at how accommodating CLSTG was to help tailor programs of study to his specific, unique educational needs and interests.
When asked what Blake liked most about the online courses available through CLSTG, he replied, “You can take these courses at your own pace, often a necessary component of education for people with full-time jobs. I’d wake up at about 5:30 a.m., buckle down and spend some time in my classes.”
He began by taking classes with some of the other Liberty Church staff members. Later, in 2017, Liberty College of Biblical Studies was established as a CLSTG partner school and Liberty Church in Havelock is now one of eight campuses in the Liberty Network. The staff took their first class, “Spiritual Gifts,” taught by CLSTG founder, Dr. Ron Cottle.
One of the ways CLSTG supports partner schools like Liberty is customizing Biblical education for campus-specific needs.
For Liberty, CLSTG facilitates a hybrid model of self-led study and group classes. Liberty hosts group classes twice per year in very digestible two-hour sessions, once per week, over a five-week period.
“Group classes can be a great encouragement for getting started.” Blake notes, “Some people won’t take a class unless there’s a group setting of some sort.”
Since 2017, Blake and another staff member have earned associate degrees. The church also has two interns who are currently working towards degrees, one is pursuing an associate and the other a bachelor’s. Many others at the church have earned their ministry certificates.
“I’ve found that partnering with Christian Life School of Theology Global has created a church culture where we’re always moving forward and growing,” Blake comments about the effect of the CLSTG partner school on Liberty Church.
Personally, he can attest to the positive impact of CLSTG on his own ministry development, “After taking several years of classes, people would comment, ‘Man I’ve always loved your preaching, but you have even more insight to offer now.'”
Eventually, Blake was offered the opportunity by CLSTG Director of Operations, Dr. Russ Shroeder, to become a “Locally Authorized Teacher,” and has now guided in-person groups through a course twice.
Bible study requires hard work and sacrifice, Blake notes. “But if nothing changes, nothing changes.” He adds that perservering through thought-provoking courses and learning deep Biblical truths “will grow you and expand your mind.”
The Liberty College of Biblical Studies has also held two different weekend intensives, where they studied “Questions of Faith: Part 1” taught by Dr. Ian Bond and “Theology of Parenting” by Dr. Lon Flippo.
“However you think that it has to be done, it doesn’t. CLSTG offers incredibly flexible options for partner schools,” says Blake. “Liberty Church has been a trailblazer with determining how our partner school is structured and CLSTG has supported us throughout the process.”
Becoming a partner school with CLSTG is easier than you might think and it provides an incredible resource for your congregation, staff and leadership team. Learn more about launching your custom-branded Bible school today.
About Blake Larson
Pastor Blake and his wife, Kassie, have been on staff at Liberty Church in Havelock, NC since 2010. They have two children: Emmalynn and Timothy. Pastor Blake’s passion is discipleship and mentoring, which has made for a good fit while serving with the younger generations of Liberty. You’re also likely to see Kassie on the worship team most Sundays.