ORLANDO, Fla. (BP)–Saying it is not enough to just provide resources that people say they like, James T. Draper Jr., president of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, emphasized, “We have to learn the needs of individuals and churches alike, and meet them.”
In presenting LifeWay’s report to messengers at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting on Tuesday, June 13, in Orlando, Fla., Draper told the crowd, “Families are under attack today like never before in history. More people say they are spiritual, but church attendance is declining. And the latest surveys tell us there is little or no difference in the lifestyles of a Christian and an unbeliever.
“It is the goal of everything we do at LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention to lift up Christ as the way, the truth and the life,” he said.
As one example of how LifeWay is positively affecting lives and churches, Draper spoke about the new Sunday School for a New Century curriculum to be introduced with the fall quarter.
“Sunday School for a New Century is providing guidance for Bible study on Sunday and every day of the week, with curriculum for each age group.
He cited the new Family Bible Study line of curriculum that enables every age group in the family to study the same Scripture theme, enabling parents and children to study together.
Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans and a LifeWay trustee, told the SBC crowd his church will use Sunday School for a New Century materials.
“Sunday School for a New Century will make a difference in your family with devotion. It can strengthen family ties by giving parents a new way to connect with their children,” he said.
“Sunday School for a New Century will make a difference in your family with discipleship. This new material can bring about revival. It can give instant and continual growth in your church.
“Sunday School for a New Century will make a difference in your family with evangelism. It has a heavy emphasis on evangelism. We’re not apologizing for this. We’re proud of it! What if every husband, every wife, every child got saved? Think about it.”
As an Upward Basketball team made up of children from First Baptist Church in Windemere, Fla., showed their basketball spinning skills, Draper said 432 churches are using the ministry to tap into children’s natural interest in sports. Children are taught basketball skills while learning about the Bible and about Christ.
With Upward Basketball, Draper said, “Winning wasn’t the most important thing. Changing lives is.”
Turning to the FAITH Sunday school evangelism strategy, Draper said that since its national launch in 1998, nearly 4,100 churches and more than 120,000 people have been involved.
FAITH is a strategy combining evangelism and Sunday school. It originated at First Baptist Church, Daytona Beach, Fla., and has been introduced to Southern Baptists by LifeWay, with the endorsement of the North American Mission Board.
Draper introduced Andy Lanford, 13, a FAITH team leader from First Baptist Church, North Spartanburg, S.C.
Lanford said he and his team went on a FAITH visit one evening, planning to share the gospel with one of his friends. But when he arrived at the home, the friend’s father came to the door. Learning his friend wasn’t home, Lanford shared the gospel with his friend’s father and he accepted Christ.
“When I started the presentation, I thought I wasn’t doing very good, but I just started using the F-A-I-T-H, then asked if he’d like to accept Christ and he said yes.”
Draper asked, “Is this happening at your church? It can, and you can help equip your members to witness through FAITH,” he said.
In another area, Ted Warren, LifeWay executive vice president and chief operating officer, reported on LifeWay initiates related to the Internet and international distribution of LifeWay’s materials.
“LifeWay has more than 1,700 pages on its website and receives more than 10 million visits to our site each month, up 276 percent over last year,” Warren said.
E-commerce at LifeWay is “exploding,” Warren said, noting that more than 20,000 churches have registered to order resources over the Internet through LifeWay’s dated order forms.
“So wherever you are, from Anchorage, Alaska, to Key West, Fla., you have access to LifeWay materials and the other items in our stores 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Through LifeWay’s international ministry, people in 60 countries can now purchase LifeWay resources in their own currency, Warren said.
Also, LifeWay has placed four LifeWay missionaries on the filed located with International Mission Board regional offices in Prague, Czech Republic; Nairobi, Kenya; Quito, Ecuador; and Singapore.
In another area, Draper said LifeWay offers filtered Internet access to protect families. For example, he noted:
— Up to 30 million people log on to pornographic websites every day.
–10 percent of church members access porn sites daily.
–91 percent of children reaching objectionable sites did so unintentionally.
— 70 percent of e-porn traffic occurs during the 9-5 workday.
— 30 percent of all unsolicited e-mails are pornographic.
LifeWayonline filters out 20 categories of offensive material, including pornography, alcohol and drug use, gambling, violence, hate/discrimination, profane language and selected chat rooms.
Changing topics to music, Draper introduced “Experiencing God … The Musical,” a new musical produced by LifeWay’s Genevox Publishers.
Henry Blackaby, author of the “Experiencing God” discipleship materials, was called to the podium where Draper presented him a resolution of appreciation from LifeWay, the International Mission Board and the North American Mission Board.
“There are very few people in this convention hall,” Draper said, “whose lives have not been touched by Henry Blackaby’s work, ‘Experiencing God.’ It has been read and studied by millions, and translated into dozens of languages. Now it has been translated into the language of music.”
Draper singled out the employees at Glorieta, a LifeWay conference center.
“Last month, the employees reached out with the love of Christ to more than 1,000 victims of the Los Alamos fire. I’m so proud of Larry Haslam and all the employees who welcomed these guests, housed them at no charge and fed them at no charge to the victims, and worked long hours to meet their needs. This was a great testimony for Southern Baptists.”
Draper concluded with information about the newly released biography of Payne Stewart, the 1999 U.S. Open golf champion killed last fall in a tragic plane accident. The book is published by LifeWay’s Broadman & Holman division.
The book already has made the “top 10 on the New York Times bestseller list and in the top five on amazon.com,” Draper said. The book was written by Stewart’s wife, Tracey, and Ken Abraham.
“Whether it is through a story like the Payne Stewart biography, through family oriented Bible study with Sunday School for a New Century or by reaching unbelievers with programs like Upward Basketball and FAITH, we are seeing God spiritually transform lives,” Draper said. “This is the goal of everything we do at LifeWay.”