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Lifeway helps churches return to normalcy in 2021

NASHVILLE (BP) – As the world emerged from the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021, Lifeway helped churches regain a sense of normalcy while also equipping them for the future.

“Lifeway saw many churches joyfully re-engage in ministry activities in 2021 that had to be sidelined or altered for a season due to the pandemic,” said Ben Mandrell, Lifeway president and CEO. “At the same time, churches are also evaluating their next steps. Throughout this past year, Lifeway has continued to strategically adapt to meet the needs of today’s churches while also positioning them for future ministry.”

Part of this adjustment involved making enhancements to Lifeway.com, the ministry’s flagship website, which was recognized on Newsweek’s list of Best Online Shops 2022. A commitment to improving customers’ online experience coincided with the launch of new company branding that inserted a cross into the Lifeway name, removed the longstanding uppercase “w” and replaced the burgundy coloring with a harvest gold.

One of the first products to display this new branding was “Elijah: Faith and Fire” by Priscilla Shirer, a Bible study that saw massive popularity this year and spawned an online Bible study that attracted women from around the country. Lifeway’s other resources for women continued to blossom in 2021 as more than 100,000 women joined an online Bible study and more than 140,000 participated in a live or simulcast event or training. Lifeway also hosted a Women’s Leadership Forum in the fall that attracted women from 30 states.

Many other Lifeway events were able to return to an in-person format this year, with the option for people to also attend virtually. The Black Church Leadership & Family Conference, held July 19-23, focused on the theme of “No Doubt,” reminding attendees that faith in God can remain firm when everything else in life is shaken. Later in the year, the ETCH (equipping the church and home) Conference, held Oct. 11-12, revolved around a theme of reuniting kids and student ministry leaders with each other and the families they serve. Other in-person gatherings, like the Glory Event with bestselling author and Bible study teacher, Jackie Hill Perry, launched for the first time in 2021.

Camps were also able to reopen in dozens of locations after a year of being sidelined due to the pandemic. 2021 saw more than 88,000 kids and students attend a CentriKid, FUGE, Student Life or Student Life Kids Camp, of whom more than 600 reported coming to salvation at camp.

On the publishing front, Lifeway continued to resource the global church. In February, B&H Español, part of the trade publishing arm of Lifeway, released its first ever women’s devotional Bible in Spanish. Lifeway, the world’s largest provider of Spanish Bibles, was recognized in May as Publisher of the Year by the Spanish Evangelical Publishers Association (SEPA). And just this week, Lifeway celebrated the release of the “Telugu Study Bible,” a resource that has been completely conceptualized, developed, translated, printed and distributed by local Indian pastors, theologians and ministry leaders working with Lifeway India.

B&H Publishing continued to attract new authors, received national recognitions for content, design, and sales, and celebrated dozens of new releases. These including the “CSB Student Study Bible,” designed to promote biblical literacy among students, and Hill Perry’s New York Times bestseller, “Holier Than Thou,” which explores how God’s holiness helps Christians trust Him.

Despite national supply chain challenges, Lifeway continued to serve churches’ discipleship ministries through “Bible Studies for Life,” “Explore the Bible” and “The Gospel Project” curriculum lines. A poignant reminder of the impact of Sunday School and small group ministry came this year from a story of a son leading his 85-year-old father to Christ through a Lifeway curriculum.

In June, during many churches’ return to in-person Vacation Bible School, Lifeway revealed “Sparks Studios,” its 2022 VBS theme that explores the creativity of God and His image bearers. Lifeway also continued to pour into pastors through new resources such as “The Glass House” podcast by Ben and Lynley Mandrell, which explores the unique challenges of pastoral life and offers hope and encourages steadfastness in ministry.

Meanwhile, Lifeway employees continued their transition to a new work environment. Having embraced a culture of remote work even before the pandemic hit, the ministry sold its downtown Nashville building in May with plans to develop a smaller teaming space in the future for strategic in-person collaboration. Lifeway also strengthened its leadership team by hiring Kim Massey as chief marketing officer.

“Kim has a proven track record as a strong and collaborative leader. I’m excited to have her join our team,” Mandrell said. “Her heart for serving the local church combined with her skill set and experience make Kim uniquely suited to build Lifeway’s brand and expand our reach as we seek to fuel local church ministry.”