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LifeWay trustees vote record budget, learn of electronic ministry potential

RIDGECREST, N.C. (BP)–Trustees of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention adopted a record $362,668,000 operating budget for the 1999-2000 fiscal year and learned of anticipated options for electronic ministry.
Prior to the meeting, approximately 150 people gathered at Ridgecrest, a LifeWay Conference Center, Sept. 13 for a groundbreaking ceremony for Rutland Chapel, a 300-seat worship facility with fellowship and conference space. Representing the Rutland Family Foundation of Decatur, Ga., which is providing a $1 million gift for the chapel, were Cherry and Robert Rutland and Linda and Guy Rutland.
Ted Warren, LifeWay chief operating officer and executive vice-president, told trustees meeting Sept. 13-14 at Ridgecrest that the agency’s budget includes planned investments in electronic ministry initiatives, increased work in international distribution of ministry resources, enhanced information systems, investments in LifeWay’s Wounded Ministers initiative and the agency’s work in strategic focus cities in cooperation with the North American Mission Board.
In addition, a fixed and intangible asset budget of $29.9 million was approved, including $16.9 million for building projects and related equipment approved by trustees in their February 1999 meeting.
Projected revenue for the agency’s 1998-99 fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, is $331,353,000. The anticipated total is $22,668,000 or 6.4 percent below budget, but $16,193,000 or 5.2 percent above last year’s actual revenue of $315,160,000. Funds Provided from Operations, money available for reinvestment in ministry expansion after all expenses have been paid, is projected at 4.6 percent, compared with a budgeted 4.3 percent.
“LifeWay continues to grow,” he said. “More people are using more of our products.”
Warren also reported on Internet-related initiatives.
“The world is there in increasing numbers,” he said. “It is where the battle for the eyes, minds, hearts and souls of all generations is now being waged. The Internet is dominated by non-Christian, unwholesome content, which we must challenge. It provides the most dynamic and efficient method for disseminating the gospel around the world.”
He said the goal for electronic initiatives is “to achieve LifeWay’s vision more quickly, efficiently and effectively than could otherwise be achieved solely through non-electronic methods.”
A few of the projects in process and under study, Warren said, include a digital music delivery system, LifeWay home page enhancements and lifewaystores.com enhancements.
He said a new Sunday School for a New Century site, www.lifewaysundayschool.com, will become a prototype for the future of LifeWay’s Internet presence. It will include features such as sample lessons, online training, streaming video, online resources, user registration, event promotion and registration, age-group ministry forums, church staff forums, bulletin boards and chat rooms.
Trustees affirmed a recommendation to close the Albuquerque, N.M., LifeWay Christian Store Dec. 31, 1999, due to inability to attain growth sufficient to meet ministry and business objectives. At the same time, the LifeWay store at Glorieta (N.M.), a LifeWay Conference Center, will be converted to a full-service store with a toll-free number to serve all of New Mexico. An on-site store will continue to be provided for key state events, such as the annual state convention meeting and the evangelism conference.
In other reports:
— Mike Arrrington, vice-president of the corporate affairs division said an ongoing study is expected to result in recommendations to LifeWay trustees in their February 2000 meeting to make the best use of LifeWay’s conference center property and facilities in the new century.
— Mike Miller, director of the church leadership group of LifeWay Church Resources, said Genevox Music products, graded choir materials, Christian schools curriculum, and the newly released “How Much Is Enough?”stewardship resource have experienced high demand.
— Roy Edgemon, director of the discipleship and family group of LifeWay Church Resources, said the division, in partnership with Tyndale Publishers, will release a series of age-graded studies “How Now Shall We Live?” by popular author and speaker Chuck Colson.
— Bill Taylor, director of the Sunday school group of LifeWay Church Resources, said Sunday School for a New Century materials to be released in Fall 2000 will be built on the strategic principles of foundational evangelism, foundational discipleship, family responsibility, spiritual transformation and biblical leadership. Curriculum characteristics will support biblical authority, the Kingdom of God, the biblical worldview, the Sunday school strategy and teaching for transformation.
— Mark Scott, president of LifeWay Christian Stores, said Hispanic product sections were established in 50 LifeWay Christian Stores in 1998-99.
— Officials of Broadman & Holman Publishers said, in addition to the Bible translation under development, the division is exploring partnerships with amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com, among other organizations, to make its resources, including books, gifts and church supplies, available to a wider audience.

    About the Author

  • Charles Willis