Lutheran Bible Translators, Inc.

The information in this column was provided to MinistryWatch by the ministry itself. It was last updated 10/29/2021. To update the information in this column, please email:


Lutheran Bible Translators is a highly trained group of women and men working with church and Bible agency leaders to bring God's Word to those who don't yet have it.

Contact information

Mailing address:
Lutheran Bible Translators, Inc.
PO Box 789
Concordia, MO 64020


Phone: 660-225-0810


Organization details

EIN: 952630437

CEO/President: Dr. Michael Rodewald

Chairman: Marlis Norton

Board size: 12

Founder: Rev. Morris Watkins

Ruling year: 1964

Tax deductible: Yes

Fiscal year end: 12/31

Member of ECFA: Yes

Member of ECFA since: 1980


Vision: God is transforming the lives of people around the world as they read and use His Word in their heart language.

Lutheran Bible Translators ("LBT") desires all people to hear and have access to God's Word in a language they easily understand. It is the only Lutheran group solely devoted to Bible translation and literacy work. It is not subsidized by any church body or sponsoring agency. The ministry relies on the financial support of individuals, congregations and foundations. As an independent mission organization, LBT coordinates its activities with the church at large and other Bible translation agencies. LBT was founded in 1964 by Rev. Morris Watkins and has played a key role in bringing the Word of God to a number of different people groups around the world.

LBT is working in over 20 countries around the globe. More than 100 missionaries from Australia, Canada and the USA serve as advisors on linguistic analysis and train indigenous people as translation and literacy workers. These people are speakers of some 40 different languages. LBT missionaries do not work on "Lutheran translations" per se, they are simply Lutherans in the field of Bible translation. LBT will continue to seek out new opportunities to serve through missionaries specially trained to do sociolinguistic surveys which help identify where the translation needs are greatest.

Mission statement

Lutheran Bible Translators expresses its mission statement as follows:

Lutheran Bible Translators makes God's Word accessible to those who do not yet have it in the language of their hearts.

Statement of faith

Lutheran Bible Translators accepts without reservation:

The Scriptures of the Old and the New Testament as the verbally inspired and inerrant Word of God and the only rule and norm of faith and of practice.

All the Symbolical Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church as a true and unadulterated statement and exposition of the Word of God, to wit: The Ecumenical Creeds (the Apostles' Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed), the Unaltered Augsburg Confession, the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Smalcald Articles, the Large Catechism of Luther, the Small Catechism of Luther, and the Formula of Concord.

Note that the "Symbolical Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church... to wit:..." is the Book of Concord.

Donor confidence score

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Transparency grade


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Financial efficiency ratings

Sector: Bible Translation Organizations

CategoryRatingOverall rankSector rank
Overall efficiency rating720 of 10228 of 16
Fund acquisition rating335 of 10245 of 16
Resource allocation rating608 of 10247 of 16
Asset utilization rating938 of 102215 of 16

Click here to read Lutheran Bible Translators, Inc.'s response to our ratings

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Balance sheet
Receivables, inventories, prepaids$1,013,355$194,235$46,864$47,204$142,556
Short-term investments$0$0$0$0$0
Other current assets$0$0$0$0$0
Total current assets$4,466,281$4,877,078$3,795,576$3,602,629$1,522,287
Long-term investments$7,254,771$6,327,764$3,342,426$3,299,385$2,515,259
Fixed assets$211,330$266,777$326,024$268,917$326,936
Other long-term assets$2,034,645$1,542,452$349,912$439,332$446,167
Total long-term assets$9,500,746$8,136,993$4,018,362$4,007,634$3,288,362
Total assets$13,967,027$13,014,071$7,813,938$7,610,263$4,810,649
Payables and accrued expenses$116,455$176,999$46,325$164,619$132,304
Other current liabilities$0$0$0$0$0
Total current liabilities$116,455$176,999$46,325$164,619$132,304
Due to (from) affiliates$0$0$0$0$0
Other long-term liabilities$0$0$0$0$0
Total long-term liabilities$0$0$0$0$0
Total liabilities$116,455$176,999$46,325$164,619$132,304
Net assets20202019201820172016
Without donor restrictions$9,438,407$9,040,424$6,596,231$6,116,052$3,564,131
With donor restrictions$4,412,165$3,796,648$1,171,382$1,329,592$1,114,214
Net assets$13,850,572$12,837,072$7,767,613$7,445,644$4,678,345
Revenues and expenses
Total contributions$6,276,632$7,022,134$4,829,677$6,285,491$4,441,412
Program service revenue$0$0$0$0$0
Membership dues$0$0$0$0$0
Investment income$634,656$627,358($297,452)$333,106$217,997
Other revenue($19,564)($33,804)$8,430$82,108$433,705
Total other revenue$615,092$593,554($289,022)$415,214$651,702
Total revenue$6,891,724$7,615,688$4,540,655$6,700,705$5,093,114
Program services$5,239,457$3,775,314$3,394,930$3,232,069$3,056,275
Management and general$684,740$589,948$464,660$511,224$424,272
Total expenses$6,277,923$4,738,724$4,218,686$3,933,406$3,660,299
Change in net assets20202019201820172016
Surplus (deficit)$613,801$2,876,964$321,969$2,767,299$1,432,815
Other changes in net assets$0$0$0$0$0
Total change in net assets$613,801$2,876,964$321,969$2,767,299$1,432,815


Dr Michael RodewaldExecutive Director$133,427
Tilahun MendedoExecutive Development Offi$97,727
Rev Richard RudowskeChief Operating Officer$86,263
David SnyderDirector of National Progr$82,221

Compensation data as of: 12/31/2020

Response from ministry

Thanks for the opportunity to comment on the rating system as well as the rating received by Lutheran Bible Translators.

Since our rating is in an "acceptable" range, I trust that the following comments will not be construed as merely sour grapes. Rather, they reflect some concerns about procedure and methodology.

The Summary Overview lists four basic principles.

#1-The system rates financial efficiency not programmatic efficiency. However, the summary statement clearly places a programmatic value on financial efficiency ("the most mission-related activity for the least amount of financial resources"). It is probably impossible to avoid, but the rating system clearly implies programmatic judgements without programmatic review.

#2- The system claims objectivity. That may be accurate for organizations that file IRS Form 990 if Wall Watchers consistently uses that information to calculate ratios. If, however, some organizational ratios are calculated from the audited financial statements, there may be a lack of consistency which results in a lack of objectivity. While auditors follow certain broad principles of consistency, there are allowable exceptions. Does Wall Watchers reclassify audit lines so that organizations will be treated consistently and, therefore, objectively? Or is the audit accepted "as is" resulting in some inconsistencies and, therefore some lack of objectivity?

#3 - The ratings are relative. That may be an accurate statement, but is it desirable? Very large organizations with a larger revenue and asset base are compared with smaller organizations. Economies of scale may adversely effect the smaller organization suggesting diminished efficiency. In fact, the smaller organization may be far more efficient because they are forced to "count their pennies" more aggressively. The ratios, however, may still appear to project lesser efficiency.

#4 - The ratio categories seem appropriate. There is a question about the Risk/Return motif. While business ratios use this language, does it really apply to nonprofit ministry organizations? The Contributions Reliance Ratio is "higher is better" if there is greater reliance on contributions. That means organizations with active endowments would rate lower because endowment return is not a contribution. That conclusion would seem to be a value judgement not an objective ratio analysis.

Calculating the Rating

On a methodology level, I have some concerns about the whole issue of averaging ratios. Tyran, in "The Vest-Pocket Guide to Business Ratios", speaks about the "deviation method" for determining the Mean of a distribution. Interestingly, his example is the calculation of the arithmetic mean for a distribution of Current Ratios. In his algebraic mean calculation, however, he does not illustrate with averaging a distribution of ratios. While Tyran is not the only resource, calculating the average of a distribution of ratios poses some problems. While it is "technically" possible, does it result in logical or useful product? Is it possible that such a calculation creates the illusion of meaning without actually producing a meaningful answer?

Step 4 is based on subtracting the risk score from the return score (based, I assume, on the fact that the Return ratio should be larger than the Risk ratio). My concern, however, is that steps three and four are based on averaging and dividing ratios of individual organizations from averaged ratios based on a distribution of ratios. Is it possible that this rather convoluted process gives the illusion of precision while actually yielding little valuable information? The average donor may well be persuaded to a conclusion without actually understanding the process involved.

Step 6 presents an interesting distribution of Stars. Given the calculation process based on individual organizations compared to the distribution, I would assume that there are very few 5 Stars and that the end result was heavily loaded to 3 Star.

The final computation is based on an average of percentile ranks. Again, we question the mathematical validity of averaging percentiles. The result "looks like a number" but is the number meaningful from a mathematical standpoint?

Assume for a moment that 3 Stars is just average - a "C" on the Ministry Watch Efficiency scale. I'm not a mathematician, but my strong impression is that the system tends to force a mid-range result. The repeated averaging of ratios and percentiles tends to force the end product of the calculation to the middle, creating the impression that the organization is inefficient and, by extrapolation, ineffective.

While our overall rating was above average by the ranking methodology and more-or-less average by the rating methodology, my concerns remain. It appears that Wall Watchers has an admirable motivation but a system with significant methodological flaws. In addition, the focus on financial efficiency will not be clear to most donors who will read the numbers and make some assumptions about the organization that Wall Watchers did not intend but which are reinforced by the methodology.

Marshall R. Gillam

The information below was provided to MinistryWatch by the ministry itself. It was last updated 10/29/2021. To update the information below, please email:


Lutheran Bible Translators was founded in 1964 by Rev. Morris Watkins. LBT is an independent mission group, founded in 1964, and is the only Lutheran organization totally devoted to this specialized ministry.

LBT has brought the Scriptures to about five million people through 15 New Testaments which have been produced. More are nearing completion and could be published in the next five years. In addition, LBT workers have begun to produce non-print media. A video portraying the life and ministry of Christ based on the book of Luke has been dubbed into the Bandi, Grebo, and Kisi languages.

Program accomplishments

Impact audience - 20 million
Involved with 102 language communities
9 consecutive 4-star ratings on Charity Navigator


Because the ministry of Lutheran Bible Translators is supported by the prayers and contributions of fellow Christians, LBT is always in need of both prayers and financial contributions. In addition, missionaries are needed to fill the open translation, literacy, and vernacular media positions around the world.