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LifeWay celebrates Thom Rainer’s 10th anniversary

NASHVILLE (BP) — In a special chapel service on Wednesday (Feb, 3), LifeWay Christian Resources recognized Thom S. Rainer for 10 years of service as president and CEO.

Rainer was praised for his commitment to Christ and his family, as well as leadership during tumultuous cultural and business changes.

Gary Richardson, LifeWay Board of Trustees chairman, spoke of Rainer as a selfless, transparent and courageous leader. Before presenting Rainer with a gift, he relayed a fellow trustee saying, “LifeWay is impacting and influencing the world as never before for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

The celebration kicked off with music from Grammy Award-winning artist Mandisa. As a former LifeWay customer service employee, she shared how she “learned the power of the Bible” from her time with the company.

Eric Geiger, vice president of LifeWay’s resources division, presented a plaque from the LifeWay Executive Leadership Team thanking Rainer for his “visionary guidance and unwavering leadership.” Geiger told him, “In you, I see a man who loves Jesus and leads as someone who has been loved by Him.”

Selma Wilson, vice president of Organizational Development, recalled representing the employees at Rainer’s inauguration and expressed gratitude that she could do that again in her current role for his 10-year celebration. “We as an employee team are grateful that, as a leader, you care more about tomorrow than today,” she told Rainer.

Wilson also introduced a video created by LifeWay employees that highlighted several expressing their appreciation for Rainer’s leadership and mentioning what they feel he has done best as president.

Executive Vice President Brad Waggoner said the one word he would choose to describe Rainer would be “courage.” He then described several ways Rainer has displayed courage in his decision to come to LifeWay and his leadership since arriving.

Rainer’s wife Nellie Jo, their three sons and daughters-in-law, and nine grandchildren joined Rainer for the celebration. As they did during his inauguration, Rainer’s sons, Sam, Art and Jess, spoke of the impact their father made on their lives.

“When I think of my father,” Sam said, “I think of Ephesians 6:4. ‘Fathers bring up children in the training and instruction of the Lord.’ I’ve had that in my life.” Sam noted that his father loves the Lord, his wife, his family and LifeWay. “He loves this place, obviously not because of the building because you’re selling it,” he joked. “He loves this place because he loves the people here.”

Art remembered how their father always told his sons three things: “I love you. I’m proud of you. And I’m glad you are my son.” He has carried that tradition on to his own children and wanted to “return the favor” to his parents by telling them those three things.

Jess shared a list of his father’s accomplishments in the last 10 years, some serious and some humorous. “Lots of things have changed, but some things didn’t,” he said. “I know in another 10 years I’ll be able to stand here and say the same thing, ‘I love you and I’m proud of you.'”

To close the service, Rainer expressed gratitude to his family, LifeWay’s leadership team and employees. “This isn’t about me. It’s about God working through you,” Rainer said. “You are making LifeWay what she is today.”

Significant advancements during Rainer’s LifeWay tenure:

— LifeWay has experienced three consecutive years of growth in ongoing curriculum after nearly 30 years of decline. Helping fuel the growth is The Gospel Project, a group Bible study focused on theology. Initially projected to draw 30,000 users, the curriculum reached 1 million weekly users this past fall.

— Rainer led the strategic sale of LifeWay’s campus and secured a new location in downtown Nashville.

— During his time as president, LifeWay has made several key acquisitions including: WORDsearch, Student Life and Berean Christian Stores.

— Rainer has authored more than two dozen books, including his most recent books “I Will: Nine Traits of an Outwardly Focused Christian,” “Autopsy of a Deceased Church,” and the award-winning and best-selling “I Am a Church Member.”

— His website, ThomRainer.com, had more than 7.5 million views last year. In the past 12 months, the “Rainer on Leadership” podcast had 1 million downloads.

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