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LifeWay expects record revenues in 2003, demonstrating stability in weak economy

GLORIETA, N.M. (BP)–LifeWay Christian Resources reported to its trustees Sept. 9 that the company expects to post record 2003 revenues of almost $421 million, $6.3 million more than last year. LifeWay’s fiscal year ends Sept. 30.

“LifeWay has demonstrated good stability in a weak economy,” chief operating officer Ted Warren told trustees during their semi-annual meeting at LifeWay Glorieta (N.M.) Conference Center. He credited the introduction of new books, Bibles and literature, sound operations and tight expense control for LifeWay’s success during a time when the economy continued to be soft.

Funds provided from operations — money for reinvestment in ministry expansion after all expenses are paid — are expected to be $14 million, or 3.3 percent of revenue, consistent with LifeWay’s goal of financial performance.

In their Sept. 8-9 meeting, the trustees adopted a record 2004 operating budget of $445.4 million, a 5.8 percent increase over projected 2003 revenues, along with capital expenditures of $14.7 million. “The budget reflects the consolidated operating plans of all our components in order to achieve our vision and glorify God,” Warren said.

In other action, trustees approved steps to financially strengthen LifeWay’s pension fund for the long term and received the following reports from the company’s business units:


LifeWay church resources introduced two new product supplements, Biblical Illustrator Plus and FBS Leader’s QuickSource, vice president Gene Mims reported. ParentLife magazine is being redesigned to increase the quality and bring the magazine more into line with industry competitors. Eleven new releases of undated materials are scheduled for 2004. There will be a 3.7 percent increase related to Sunday School curriculum products for the 2004 year.

Other church resources highlights for the year are:

— More than 20,000 churches across the country this summer used LifeWay’s Great Kingdom Caper resources for Vacation Bible School. More than a million children hear the Gospel through VBS each summer.

— Serendipity small group study sales surpassed the sales of this same material over the last two years. In particular, the Life Connections resources have exceeded expectations and generated $210,000 in revenue.

— Masterwork is a new Sunday School curriculum introduced this fall and has sold more than 30,000 units, and the Holman Christian Standard Bible debuted throughout Sunday School products.

— Approximately 11 percent of those who attended student events this summer (79,570) made recordable decisions, including 1,550 who received Christ as their Savior.

— Network partnerships hosted “Meet M.E. In D.C.” in May with 40 ministers of education representing 15 states. They met with pastors or educational staff of 21 churches in the D.C. area. The event provided training and emphasized leadership skills. This event was a pilot for the current event network partnerships is coordinating for 2004, “Meet M.E. Across America.”


The retail division turned in “solid performance in a tough economy” in 2003, reported vice president Mark Scott. Revenues for the fiscal year are projected to be slightly higher than last year’s despite a tight economy, and the division managed expenses exceptionally well. “While running a tight ship during a tough economy, we’ve been laying the foundation for long-term growth,” Scott said.

The division completed 12 store projects in the last year, including new stores in Baton Rouge, La.; Beaumont, Texas; Albany, Ga.; and Bowling Green, Ky. The company also acquired two Moody Bible Institute bookstores and will convert them to LifeWay Christian Stores, bringing the total number of LifeWay book stores to 119 by Sept. 30. No new stores are planned for 2004 as LifeWay will focus on further improving existing operations, Scott said.

Shoppers will benefit from several new initiatives, including behind-the-scenes improvements in efficiency to keep costs in check; the launch of LifeWay gift cards, which are replacing gift certificates; and a “Christian Classics” section in the stores that feature more than 100 titles every Christian should read.


Reporting on the Holman Christian Standard Bible translation project, Ken Stephens, vice president of the Broadman & Holman publishing division, said the complete Bible will be available for purchase by next spring. The HCSB can be viewed in its entirety now on www.lifeway.com in the online Bible reference library.

By April 2004, B&H expects to have released five new HCSB products, including a gift and award Bible, a red-letter text, a pew Bible, a drill Bible and a software product.

Some of B&H’s top-selling products in 2003 included “Faith in God and Generals,” a Civil War book that complemented a major motion picture; “Praying God’s Word” by Beth Moore; a revised edition of “Experiencing God” by Henry Blackaby and Claude King; and “Brothers, We are not Professionals,” by John Piper.

In July, B&H joined Moody Publishers to jointly sell Moody’s products to independent Christian bookstores, Stephens said. Moody Press will continue to sell to distributors, Christian chain retailers, ministries, general trade and international trade customers, while B&H sales representatives will begin field sales and phone sales for Moody products to CBA bookstores.


The corporate affairs division is leading a companywide initiative to “connect seminary students to LifeWay for Life,” vice president Mike Arrington reported. LifeWay surveyed more than 1,350 seminary students and 100 faculty members, seminary presidents and deans to determine how well LifeWay is connecting with Southern Baptist seminaries and what could be improved. As a result, LifeWay will focus seminary on-campus events more toward students’ personal and professional lives, provide significant discounts on textbooks, and present incoming students with a Bible research CD valued at $250.

At LifeWay’s conference centers at Ridgecrest, N.C., and Glorieta, N.M., revitalization efforts continue with the goal of spiritual renewal for all guests. Both conference centers have implemented a number of new customer service initiatives including an online guest survey system.

At Ridgecrest, the 120-room Mt. Laurel Inn and conference facility have been completed, youth housing has been upgraded to private-bath hotel rooms, a new recreation field has been added and other facilities have been remodeled. At Glorieta, the Holcomb Auditorium and classrooms have been remodeled, along with the Chuck Wagon and Holy Grounds Cafe, Chaparral Hall and the Texas Main A & B hotels. The lake also has been improved and stocked with fish for catch-and-release sport fishing.

Looking ahead, LifeWay is studying the feasibility of an 18-hole golf course at Glorieta as part of the conference centers’ master plan.

Through corporate philanthropic development, LifeWay continues to raise funds for major projects outside the scope of the company’s operating budget — projects, according to Arrington, in which “God is the fundraiser and LifeWay is the storyteller.” Examples include a proposed LifeWay Bible Foundation.


Tim Vineyard, vice president of the technology division, told trustees that in the first three quarters of the fiscal year there were 95.2 million page views on www.lifeway.com and nearly 2 million unique users. E-newsletter subscriptions reached 286,000 and 322 people received Christ after accessing online information about how to become a Christian.

Vineyard said the technology division worked with the church resources division to initiate a highly successful online study, “Believing God,” hosted by Beth Moore. More than 38,000 people registered for the study where a community chat room generated 56,700 messages. Lifeway.com’s online Bible reference library received 14 million views as a result of the study. The two divisions are working together again to launch a new online Beth Moore study, “Living Beyond Yourself,” Sept. 18.

Vineyard introduced LifeWay’s new Bible software, Bible Navigator, “the easiest, most powerful Bible study software ever, featuring the fastest search engine available.” He presented trustees with a seminary edition of Bible Navigator that includes seven Bible translations, nine commentaries and study notes, eight word study reference books, six topical guides, four dictionaries and encyclopedias, four devotional books, 11 history, culture and literature titles, plus maps and photos.

Meanwhile, LifeWayLINK, a website posting tool for churches and ministries, continues to grow in popularity and currently serves 5,154 churches.


Jim Carter, vice president of the finance and business services division and coordinator of LifeWay mission trips, reported that 95 people, including 41 employees, seven family members, one trustee, five retirees and 41 LifeWay friends, participated in four LifeWay-sponsored evangelistic trips in 2003 with four trips to go by the end of the year. The remaining trips are scheduled in India, Kenya, China and Puerto Rico.

“We started four churches and saw 585 professions of faith,” Carter reported. Since 1997, 505 people have participated in 34 LifeWay-sponsored mission trips in which 43,429 people received Christ and 134 churches were started.

Carter said trips for 2004 are scheduled for Venezuela, the Philippines, Uganda, Japan, Russia, Turkey, India, Kenya, Cuba, West Africa and New York City.

He also reported that the Nashville facilities master plan construction project, which featured an employee parking garage, new main entrance and cafeteria, and extensive office remodeling, is essentially complete and came in $2.4 million under the $33.3 million budget.


LifeWay International is establishing a presence in key economically viable and financially self-sustaining global markets. The strongest of these currently are for Spanish products in the United States, Central America, the Caribbean, Spain and Mexico. English products are strong in Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia and South Africa. Revenues in 2003 were lower than expected due to the depressed South American economy. LifeWay International will focus in 2004 on regions whose currency values have remained steady or strengthened over the past year.

LifeWay International’s consultants supply training to international customers regularly within their respective countries. The training is expanding LifeWay’s presence in international markets and, since its inception, LifeWay International’s consultants have trained 138,459 pastors and church leaders representing 17,748 churches in 51 countries. LifeWay products are currently available in 81 countries through 533 distributors.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: COO’S OUTLOOK.

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