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LifeWay, with biblical solutions, can be cultural catalyst, Draper tells trustees

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Murdered missionaries, impending war and the loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia are the canvases on which contemporary culture is being painted.

“The world is asking questions and LifeWay Christian Resources has the opportunity to provide biblical solutions,” LifeWay President James T. Draper Jr. told LifeWay trustees during their Feb. 10-11 meeting in Nashville.

“Our purpose,” Draper said, “our reason for being is to be a catalyst that brings people and churches into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. If we look at our world today we see that there are a lot of questions being asked about life in general. I’m excited because we provide people with solutions that have relevant, eternal consequences.”

The challenges ahead, Draper said, must be met by a spiritually mature organization comprised of spiritually mature people. Both, he said, can be found at LifeWay.

“I wish you all could be here and walk through the halls with me,” he said, “and catch the spirit of the people who work here. They are serious about serving God.”

Draper summarized how he believes God has blessed LifeWay’s various business units with growth, including its largest revenue year in 2002, the opening of the 115th LifeWay Christian Store, the explosion in use of new VBS curriculum, cutting-edge technology like the online Beth Moore Bible study and the number of awards received by finance and business services for its commitment to excellent customer service.

But he cautioned against becoming complacent and issued a challenge for LifeWay to become a pacesetter in the culture.

“We face the challenge of expanding our retail opportunities during difficult times while modeling for the world the definition of biblical and business ethics,” he said. “We must demonstrate biblical principles for living godly lives. Sometimes that requires cutting across the currents of modern culture, such as in our opposition to the proposed Nashville city ordinance that could force us to hire homosexuals.

“The question we must ask ourselves is, ‘Are we willing to be prophetic if it costs us business?'”

LifeWay’s leadership within the Southern Baptist Convention is a must, Draper said.

“The SBC has been a strong network of churches at least in part because of the common resources used by the churches that we have provided,” he said. “It is up to us to continue to communicate the doctrines that unite us and the Kingdom mandate the Lord has put before us.”

However, LifeWay must not take that legacy for granted, he said. “Our approach can’t be ‘business as usual.’

“Those of us in this room know the rich history and value of our convention. But how are we communicating the benefits of being a Southern Baptist to younger leaders who don’t want speeches and convention themes? These young men and women want to see a destination and they want us to provide compass coordinates to get here.”

Draper said the Kingdom of God is going to grow and LifeWay will either be a part of that growth or “the Kingdom will leave us behind.”

“I believe the course our executive management group has charted and the good work and commitment of LifeWay’s employees will keep us relevant to today’s cultural issues,” he said. “Let us all who are associated with LifeWay determine that 2003 will be a year in which our legacy and our vision for the future combine to provide fresh leadership.”

LifeWay, founded in Nashville, Tenn., in 1891, is engaged in the production and sale of Bibles, church literature, books, music, audio and video recordings, and church supplies to provide biblical solutions that spiritually transform individuals, churches and cultures. LifeWay owns and operates 115 LifeWay Christian Stores as well as two of the largest Christian conference centers in the country. An entity of the Southern Baptist Convention, LifeWay is a religious nonprofit 501(c)3 organization that receives no funding from the denomination and reinvests income above operating expenses into LifeWay and SBC ministries worldwide.