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LifeWay relays upbeat ministry results

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–LifeWay Christian Resources officials reported strong ministry results for 2007 to trustees at their Sept. 10-11 semiannual meeting in Nashville, Tenn.

The church resources division led the way with increases in undated product sales, Vacation Bible School materials and participation in women’s and student events. The LifeWay Christian Stores division also showed strong results, with the opening of nine new stores and relocations of six others.

LifeWay President and CEO Thom S. Rainer told trustees that, beyond operational achievements, he is most thrilled with LifeWay’s commitment to ministry (see accompanying story).

LifeWay’s executive leaders updated trustees on the following ministries:


Vice President John Kramp reported on “The Worship Project,” telling trustees the pew edition of the new hymnal is in production. Churches and individuals may receive updates at www.lifewayworship.com. The Worship Project consists of two components: a downloadable audio hymn and worship song repository and a hardbound Baptist Hymnal.

The division’s international ministry is placing special emphasis on Hispanic markets in the United States, Latin America and Spain, where there are more than 25 million Christians and 265,000 evangelical churches. A new website features information in Spanish and English (www.lifeway.com/international).

Kramp also updated trustees on LifeWay’s initiative to reach African American churches. There are an estimated 600 African American churches with 2,000 or more in attendance, trustees were told. LifeWay also has a new website (www.lifeway.com/blackchurchlife) that features helps, resources and articles aimed specifically at these ministries. Kramp introduced the trustees to Jay Wells, who has been chosen to lead this new initiative.

LifeWay will offer two new resources: “LifeWalk” in Winter 2007 and “KNOWN” in the fall of 2008. LifeWalk is a monthly daily devotional resource for adults based on content provided by Walk Through the Bible Ministries. KNOWN will be a new line of Bible study curriculum for students in grades seven through 12.


Vice President Ken Stephens reported on his division’s most popular trade books in 2007, including “David: 90 Days with a Heart Like His” by Beth Moore; “Praying God’s Word: Day by Day” by Beth Moore; and “Simple Church” by Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger. The Holman Illustrated Study Bible also proved popular, as did the Holman Student Bible, Stephens said.

New releases include “Character Makes a Difference” by Mike Huckabee; “Influencing Like Jesus” by Mike Zigarelli; and The Apologetics Study Bible.

B&H Academic’s new releases are “Jesus in Trinitarian Perspective” by Fred Sanders and Klaus Issler and “Formation of Christian Doctrine” by Malcolm Yarnell.

This year, Holman Bible Outreach International published nine new Bibles and will sell and distribute more than 500,000 Bibles.


Vice President Mark Scott reported that the division opened new stores in Oxford, Ala.; Birmingham, Ala.; Lynchburg, Va.; Atlanta; Fredericksburg, Va.; Rogers, Ark.; and Mt. Juliet, Tenn.

Four trade stores were acquired. The first was in May in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Scott announced that three other stores were acquired Sept. 10 in Chambersburg, Pa.; York, Pa.; and Hagerstown, Md.

Six LifeWay Christian Stores were relocated for greater ministry opportunities: in Birmingham, Ala.; Arlington, Texas; San Antonio, Texas; Lexington, Ky.; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; and Denver.

The Spanish product lines showed the most percentage growth within LifeWay Christian Stores, followed by the gifts, Bible and book product lines, respectively, Scott said.

LifeWay Christian Stores also updated the supplies, gifts, video and music sections of the stores. The large print and audio book sections, meanwhile, were expanded to serve growing customer needs. Finally, participation in the minister’s discount program continued to grow at a healthy pace, Scott said.


Vice President Jerry Rhyne presented LifeWay’s overall operational and financial results and outlined the proposed 2008 budget. For the company’s two conference centers, Rhyne reported that facilities upgrades at Ridgecrest near Asheville, N.C., led to stronger than expected ministry and financial results in 2007, while the launch of new camp ministries at Glorieta, N.M., should lead to increases in attendance and operational performance in 2008.

Rhyne also highlighted LifeWay’s decision to decentralize the international department, which has enabled LifeWay to increase its ministry effectiveness and enhance its collaborative work with the North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board.


Vice President Tim Vineyard highlighted challenges his division faces, such as shaping how Christians view and use technology; providing global, real-time access to LifeWay’s resources; making tools available to believers; and creating new online communities for Christians.

Vineyard described a new collaborative effort with the church resources division called LifeWayLessons.com, which enables online users to access Bible study resources and print them in customized formats. “We think it’s going to be very well received in the marketplace,” Vineyard said.

He also reported that 70 percent of visitors to LifeWay.com come looking for information, articles and other resources to help them be more effective in their ministry.

In addition to its annual Vacation Bible School website, the Internet technologies area in 2007 developed ThreadsMedia.com for young adults and LifeWayResearch.com for the LifeWay Research department. Work also continued on LifeWayWorship.com, the online home of the Worship Project.


Vice President Tom Hellams said LifeWay will have representatives at 42 state conventions and -– new this year -– will combine exhibits with LifeWay Stores to enhance providing resources to convention attendees.

He also reminded trustees of disaster relief funds available to help churches and pastors. Pastor’s library replacement, hymnal replacement and curriculum replenishment are all ministries to help churches when disasters strike.

Hellams recognized the effectiveness of LifeWay’s communications office and highlighted resources such as Facts & Trends magazine, Facts & Trends Online, Inside LifeWay podcasts and e-newsletters. In addition, the communications office is working collaboratively with other Southern Baptist entities to share resources and advance SBC ministries.

LifeWay’s Christmas presentation at the Ryman Auditorium -– a ministry to Nashville’s downtown business sector -– remains an important part of corporate events. Scheduled for Dec. 10, this year’s performance is titled “The Joy of Christmas.”

Hellams said LifeWay’s corporate relations department exists because of the great opportunities for ministry in Middle Tennessee. Through LifeWay’s Community Fund and participation in events such as the Luis Palau CityFest and the National Day of Prayer, he said LifeWay employees have more opportunities to share the Gospel.


Vice President Brad Waggoner reported on the progress of LifeWay Research in its first year of operation, highlighted by the addition this summer of Ed Stetzer as director.

Waggoner said LifeWay Research seeks to provide relevant information to church leaders through insights into cultural trends and church practices.

Completed studies this year include the prevalence of Calvinism, standout churches, church switchers, teen views on eternity and church dropouts. Upcoming studies include perspectives on alcohol, spiritual maturity, faces of lostness, church governance and parenting.

Waggoner pointed out that the findings of LifeWay Research are available at LifeWayResearch.com and that updated information is available through a research e-newsletter.

Waggoner, Stetzer and associate director Scott McConnell are speaking extensively to assist church leaders in using research to improve their ministries.

For 2008, Waggoner reported that LifeWay Research will implement strategic partnerships with the International Mission Board and the North American Mission Board to create research synergy and to begin a revenue model.

In other business, the trustees:

— approved a record budget of $491 million for fiscal 2008 and received a report that LifeWay estimates closing out 2007 with revenues of $463 million.

— approved Greg Jackson of Camden, Ohio, to fill a vacant unexpired trustee term.

— approved the employment of Ernst & Young to conduct the 2008 audit of LifeWay’s operations, retirement funds and employee savings plan.

— approved the allocation of reserve funds to cover the net unbudgeted cash flow impact of acquiring three stores in September.
Rob Phillips is director of communications for LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, with reporting by Russ Rankin, Brooklyn Noel, Polly House, Jenny Rice and Kelly Shrout of LifeWay’s communications department.

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  • Rob Phillips