NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Progress reports in ministry areas throughout LifeWay Christian Resources were the focus for trustees of the Southern Baptist agency during their Feb. 12-13 semiannual meeting in Nashville, Tenn.
Among major reports were the upcoming 100th LifeWay Christian Store location during the national chain’s 75th year; an update on revitalization of LifeWay’s two national conference centers; popular titles published by Broadman & Holman Publishers; and progress in the LifeWay Church Resources division change process.
Gene Mims, president the LifeWay Church Resources division, said the “church-focused” structure will work toward “an achievable future of 1 million people being baptized in the waters of our churches. We want to satisfy the needs of the churches and not just the need for a product. Churches will find in us resources — not just products, but resources. We want to go deeper into the relationship.”
The division organization to be implemented by Oct. 1 will include four areas: church relations, solutions, capabilities and organizational performance.
A partnership between LifeWay and the North American Mission Board to work with churches in starting 100,000 new Bible study units also was announced.
“If you’re going to grow a church, you’ve got to start new units and you’ve got to keep them healthy,” Bill Taylor, director of LifeWay’s Sunday school group, said.
Richard Harris, vice president of NAMB’s church planting group, said the effort also will include state convention and associational leaders. “It ought to be a no-brainer that we work together. We’ve got to go out with the message that Jesus can help you put the pieces of your life back together.”
Mark Scott, president of LifeWay Christian Stores, told trustees, “God is at work” through the national chain. “We continue to achieve significant growth and strong operating results, but the real story is in the ministry behind the numbers.”
Scott said three new stores opened during October and November 2000 in Conyers, Ga.; Paducah, Ky.; and Katy, Texas. The store at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary was remodeled during the fall.
A store to be opened in Knoxville, Tenn., in June will be the 100th location in the chain. Other projects for 2001 include new stores in northeast Birmingham, Ala., in February; Elizabethtown, Ky., March; Shenandoah, Texas, April; Florence, Ala., May; and Tallahassee, Fla., August. A relocation of the Alexandria, La., store is scheduled for March.
Mike Arrington, vice president of the corporate affairs division, told trustees LifeWay conference center priority issues for the year are construction of a chapel and hotel at LifeWay Ridgecrest (N.C.) among first steps in revitalization of both centers. An initial master plan for LifeWay Glorieta (N.M.) was unveiled.
Construction of Rutland Chapel at Ridgecrest begins in March, with completion expected in December 2001. Construction of a hotel with conferencing space will begin in May, with completion scheduled for June 2002.
Arrington reported that the conference centers hosted more than 106,000 guests last year. More than 1,200 campers attended Camp Crestridge for Girls and Camp Ridgecrest for Boys, and 18,000 teenagers were involved in youth events.
Ken Stephens, president of Broadman & Holman Publishers, said a strong first quarter in book sales for 2001-2002 follows a year in which they supplied customers with approximately 4 million Bibles and 3.5 million trade books.
Best-selling volumes for 2000 included “Payne Stewart: The Authorized Biography,” 400,000 copies; “Praying God’s Word” by Beth Moore, 144,000 copies; and another book by Moore, “Breaking Free,” 74,000 copies.
The Holman Christian Standard Bible New Testament is in stores now, and the complete Bible is on schedule to be available in 2003, Stephens said.
Ted Warren, executive vice president and chief operating officer for LifeWay, told trustees strategic planning, an annual process at LifeWay, signals that “we think ahead more than just what is coming the next day.”
However, he said an envisioned future requires five to 10 years to complete, and “requires extraordinary effort.”
“Our vision is not our manmade dreams,” he concluded, “but the presence of God.”
Luis Aranguren, director of LifeWay’s international department, said 430 distributors are now selling LifeWay resources in 60 countries. Approximately 90 volunteer consultants have been trained to lead discipleship conferences using LifeWay resources in Spanish-speaking and English-speaking countries.
“We do believe in multiplying,” Aranguren said.
Tim Vineyard, director of the e-business group, said positive responses are being received from recent revamping of Internet sites to better meet customer needs. Also, websites for churches are now available through LifeWayLINK, using tools to enable staff members to update sites daily.
In other actions, trustees:
— granted authority for the agency to acquire property in Lebanon, Tenn., for possible construction of an additional distribution center building. The approximately 25-acre tract adjacent to LifeWay’s facility in Lebanon would provide capability to expand to as much as three times the existing building. According to Mike Harry, director of LifeWay’s logistics department, projected growth in LifeWay Christian Stores could result in a significant increase in the volume of products warehoused and distributed from the Lebanon location.
— received a report on construction in progress at LifeWay’s Nashville headquarters on a parking garage, cafeteria and remodeling of warehouse space for office use, with elements of the project scheduled for completion in stages from spring 2002 through fall 2002.
— approved for budgeting purposes a possible price increase for Sunday school literature in 2002. An increase of up to 3 percent, if future production costs warrant, was approved for all dated and undated Sunday school curriculum titles, effective with the 2002 spring quarter. The action reaffirmed a part of the business plan approved by trustees in 1999, anticipating Sunday School for New Century, revamped curriculum unveiled in September 2000. That plan called for a 3 percent increase annually, beginning in 2002, two years after the introduction of the new curriculum.
— Re-elected as trustee officers are Bruce Robinson, senior pastor at West Lonsdale Baptist Church, Knoxville, Tenn., chairman, and Phil Neighbors, pastor of Valley Baptist Church, Bakersfield, Calif., recording secretary. David Pope, director of missions for the Greater Syracuse (N.Y.) Baptist Association, was elected vice chairman.