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Lifeway reverses course, pauses shutdown of LifewayWorship.com

NASHVILLE (BP) — In an interview on the SBC This Week podcast, Lifeway president Ben Mandrell announced the resource provider would not shutter LifewayWorship.com as originally planned but instead would enter into a time of discussion with worship leaders around the country on the best path forward for churches.

“Our job at Lifeway is to be coupled to the church and to be in tune with the church. And we clearly missed it on this one,” Mandrell said in the interview.

“When we announced the discontinuation of LifewayWorship.com, we were not, I think, totally prepared for the response of church leaders. I think we didn’t do enough listening with worship leaders who are in the trenches relying on this tool. We certainly didn’t put the turn signal on soon enough for people to be prepared for the changes that were coming.

“I’m really not proud of the way we communicated here. I don’t think we let worship leaders speak in. We’re going to pause this decision for right now, and we’re going to leave all those materials up where they’ve been getting them so that there’s no fear of them suddenly being taken away. And we’re just going to slow down, have some listening sessions and make sure we totally understand the value and the pain of the transition . . . So I’m really sorry to all those in the trenches who are trying to pull Sunday off and now are kind of freaking out because they don’t know how they’re going to have their music ready.”

Mandrell noted the feedback was not dissimilar to that which was received when Lifeway made the difficult decision to sell Ridgecrest, its former camp and conference center in North Carolina.

“I walked the grounds of Ridgecrest by myself and shed tears asking the Lord, ‘Please show me a way that Lifeway could continue to steward this resource,’ where so many people met their spouses and felt called to ministry,” Mandrell said. “There just wasn’t resources for us to give Ridgecrest what it needed to thrive. And so those are hard decisions.”

Regarding the future of LifewayWorship.com, he noted that Lifeway wants to “assure worship leaders that we’re actively considering alternatives to ensure minimal disruption and to keep this essential catalog alive.

“We are optimistic that we will be able to find a long-term solution for these digital musical files. So we want people to know we’re looking for answers; we’re trying to make this work. We’re extending the availability of lifewayworship.com. So this extension will enable worship leaders to continue accessing their files and provide ample time for downloading any essential materials they may require.”

The original plan was to provide church music leaders until Sept. 30 to download all their content from lifewayworship.com. The final day for new purchases of worship resources was supposed to be Aug. 31. That is no longer the case. The resource will live on until a new plan can be formulated by Lifeway.

Mandrell also thanked church leaders for their patience during this time and promised to work with church leaders to move forward together in the future.

“We definitely didn’t do this as well as we wanted to. We hope we’ll make it up to you. And we are going to be reaching out to some different worship pastors and asking the question ‘What could we do to do this together?'”

Launched in 2008, The Worship Project was described as “an online digital music project [allowing] worship leaders to customize worship and special music through downloadable files.”

You can listen to the full episode at SBCThisWeek.com or in the audio player below.

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