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Lifeway trustees hear gratitude for successes, optimistic future outlook

Lifeway trustees gathered for a worship service on Sunday night, Aug. 27, prior to their two-day meeting. Photo by Kate Neelly

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. (BP) – Gathering for the first time in Lifeway Christian Resources’ new teaming space in Brentwood, the organization’s trustees heard updates on “big wins” from President and CEO Ben Mandrell during the August 28-29, 2023 meeting.

In a financial update, Mandrell said, “The Lord has continued to bless Lifeway.” He noted the 2023 fiscal year represents the third consecutive year of revenue growth, increasing $30 million or 12 percent over 2022. He reported that strong sales of Bibles, ongoing Bible study curriculum, Vacation Bible School, women’s short-term Bible studies, and church supplies have led the way.

Ben Mandrell, Lifeway president and CEO, shared business and financial updates with the organization’s trustees during their Aug. 28-29 meeting. Photo by Kate Neelly

“Lifeway’s financial position remains very strong with a healthy cash position and a healthy reserve fund,” Mandrell said. He noted Lifeway continues to operate with no debt.

He also highlighted the successful launch of Hyfi, Lifeway’s new curriculum line designed to “help churches reach and disciple the next generation.” Mandrell said Hyfi “creates a soft runway for the Gospel” among unchurched kids and students, describing it as “like VBS on Sunday morning.” With the first-use day this Sunday, Sept. 3, he said the resource was on track to hit the subscriber goal for the full year by the start of the 2024 fiscal year and that they anticipate surpassing the goal throughout the year. Churches can learn more at myhyfi.com.

Lifeway camps saw continued growth this summer, Mandrell said. Camp locations across the country hosted 111,686 campers from more than 4,000 churches. “We’re most excited about the ministry results with 3,732 decisions to follow Christ, and over $616,000 given to missions,” he said.

Mandrell also noted some milestones and awards for Lifeway products. “The CSB translation continues to outperform our wildest dreams,” he said. The Christian Standard Bible is the fastest-growing translation in the U.S. and has been the second-bestselling English Bible translation for three of the past four months. Additionally, the CSB “Explorer Bible for Kids” was named Bible of the Year by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association in May. This marked the first time in 18 years a children’s resource was recognized in such a way.

During a tour of the Lifeway distribution center, Seané Rice, Lifeway trustee from New Orleans, Louisiana, scans one of the more than 1.4 million packages that come through the center every year to go out to customers and churches. Photo by Kate Neelly

Lifeway and B&H Español were named Publisher of the Year by the Spanish Evangelical Publishers Association (SEPA). Mandrell said this was the fifth time Lifeway, the world’s largest provider of Spanish Bibles, has been recognized in such a way. At that same ceremony in May, “The Thematic Study Bible” (Biblia Temática de Estudio) was named Bible of the Year.

Mandrell also highlighted some organizational news shared in various committee meetings. Updates and new features launched at Lifeway.com continue to improve the user experience and have raised revenue from the website. This past summer, vacation Bible school sales topped $10 million, as more than 23,000 churches and 2.4 million participants took part.

In addition to business updates, Mandrell drew from Romans 12 and a talk given by C.S. Lewis to encourage Lifeway trustees in how they could be successful in their role as a trustee. “You represent our core customers,” he told the trustees. “You can contribute to Lifeway serving well the churches you represent.”

Other business and activities

During the meeting, trustees approved a $303.2 million budget for the 2023-24 fiscal year. The budget reflects continued growth and targets a 10 percent increase over the current year.

Trustees also confirmed Scott Arvay to the position of senior vice president and chief revenue officer (CRO). As CRO, Arvay is responsible for Lifeway’s strategic planning and revenue generation. He comes to Lifeway from Faithlife where he led the global sales and customer support team.

Mandrell said he was excited to welcome Arvay to the team. “Scott brings significant expertise in sales, marketing and customer relations that will be invaluable to Lifeway as we continue to lean into our growth strategy,” Mandrell said.

Lifeway President and CEO Ben Mandrell met with new Lifeway trustees at the start of the organization’s trustee meeting on August 28-29. Photo by Kate Neelly

“Scott’s superpower is team building,” he said. “He will help guide all of Lifeway in working together to help us focus on churches, better understand their needs, and provide them with the resources and tools they need for ministry.”

A native of Pittsburgh, Arvay earned a B.S. and an M.B.A. from Duquesne University and an M.A. in Christian Leadership from Dallas Theological Seminary.

The trustees kicked off their two-day meeting with a Sunday evening worship gathering and teaching from author Richard Blackaby. On Monday afternoon, they toured Lifeway’s distribution center in Lebanon, Tenn. One hundred employees work at the distribution center, where they shipped more than 1.4 million packages to businesses, churches and individuals last year.

New trustees

The board also welcomed seven new trustees who began their term in June: Jonathan Eubank, Belle, W. Va.; Beth Hunnicutt, Garner, N.C.; Mike Napier, Sr., Aztec, N.M.; Spencer Parish, Kearney, Neb.; Michael Schmidt, Reno, Nev.; Matt Surber, San Antonio, Texas; and Tigelique Woods, Bolingbrook, Ill.