NASHVILLE (BP) — LifeWay Christian Resources is charting a new course in 2019 marking a shift to a digital retail strategy. As part of the transition, LifeWay will close its 170 brick-and-mortar stores in 2019.
The Southern Baptist entity will continue to offer a broad selection of resources through LifeWay.com and the LifeWay Customer Service Center. LifeWay Customer Service hours are Monday-Friday 7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. (Central). LifeWay also will continue to serve customers through its network of church partners who work directly with churches.
Acting President and CEO Brad Waggoner said LifeWay is “fortunate to have a robust publishing, events and church services business. Our retail strategy for the future will be a greater focus on digital channels, which are experiencing strong growth. LifeWay is moving into a new era with a strategic digital focus that will prepare us for the future and allow us to better serve our customers.”
In January LifeWay announced  it would reduce the number of its retail locations due to declining customer traffic and sales. “While we had hoped to keep some stores open, current market projections show this is no longer a viable option,” Waggoner said.
“The decision to close our local stores is a difficult one,” Waggoner said. “LifeWay has developed close connections with the communities where our stores are located, and we have been honored to serve those communities. We will continue serving local congregations as they meet the spiritual needs of their neighbors.”
The timing of store closings will vary depending on local circumstances. LifeWay expects all brick-and-mortar stores to close by the end of the year. The number of affected employees was not released today (March 20).
In operation since 1891, LifeWay offers a comprehensive selection of Bibles, books, Scripture reference tools, Bible studies, children’s products, Christian music and movies, gifts and church supplies. Additional items including church signs, furnishings and buses as well as background checks, electronic giving and other services available through LifeWay’s OneSource program at LifeWay.com/OneSource. LifeWay also hosts a number of camps and events throughout the year for all age groups.
As part of the organization’s strategy, LifeWay has introduced a number of digital resources including online Bible studies, worship planning, live streaming of events and online training opportunities.
“LifeWay has been serving the church for 128 years, and we will continue to grow our ministry to churches and individuals into the future,” Waggoner said. “As the market continues to change, primarily through shifts in brick-and-mortar retail, we are taking steps to meet customer demand for digital shopping experiences and to expand our reach globally.” LifeWay distributes resources in 164 nations and licenses resources in more than 60 languages.
Like other retailers, over the last decade the organization has seen commerce increasingly move online, while experiencing overall growth in digital sales.
In one month, LifeWay interacts with five times as many people through its digital environments as it does through LifeWay stores.
“Our world and our customers are increasingly online,” Waggoner said. “Investing in a dynamic digital strategy allows LifeWay to better serve the church in its mission and only enhances our ability to provide biblical solutions for life.”
More information about store closings is available at LifeWay.com/StoreFAQs . Or, contact the call center at 1-800-458-2772.