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LifeWay’s ‘redirection of ministry’ puts church needs first, Taylor says

RIDGECREST, N.C. (BP)–A “redirection of ministry” is taking place at LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, and Bill Taylor says churches are the focus.

Taylor spoke to a group of pastors, ministers of education, directors of missions and others who had gathered to hear about the changes coming in LifeWay’s Church Resources division. The group met during the National Sunday School Leadership Development Event, July 16-21 at LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center in North Carolina.

Taylor showed a chart illustrating the rising rate of U.S. population growth in the last 30 years and the declining rate of baptisms in Southern Baptist churches compared to that growth.

Based on those statistics, LifeWay has begun a “redirection of ministry. We’re not reorganizing. This is a total redirection,” Taylor said.

“But you’ve heard this before. You’re thinking, ‘They are always reorganizing,'” Taylor said. “These changes are not going to happen overnight. They won’t even happen in a year. It’s going to take two or three years for all this to take place, but we are committed to seeing the changes.”

Taylor said LifeWay will work toward “developing an understanding of the churches we serve now and in the future.”

“We’ve got to get to know the churches and they need to get to know us. Unless we develop relationships, we won’t know your needs. If we share our needs, then we can come up with solutions,” he said. “With intensity, we are going back into the fields. We are going to be partners helping churches.”

He said another step LifeWay will be taking is to develop the right kind of organization.

As leader of an area called Network Partnerships, Taylor said LifeWay will be focusing on states, associations, seminaries, SBC entities, emerging networks, multipliers and practitioner connections.

“All this will be done so we can get back to knowing the needs of the churches and meeting those needs. Everything will relate to serving the churches,” he said.

Taylor listed the priorities of Network Partnerships:

— be a proponent of the churches.

— be an advocate of the networks.

— carry the message of LifeWay.

— plan strategically with the networks.

— represent the concerns of the networks.

Taylor said that LifeWay will be using Model and Process (M.A.P.), a diagnostic tool to enable a church to identify current practices and determine what changes are needed to lead a lost person to Christ and enable that person to be spiritually transformed and equipped to minister to others.

“This M.A.P. is a very practical way for a church to determine where it is and what changes need to be made,” Taylor said.

M.A.P. has been published in the revised and expanded edition of “Kingdom Principles for Church Growth” by Gene Mims, president of the LifeWay Church Resources division. The book is available at $7.95 through LifeWay Church Customer Service, 1-800-458-2772, or LifeWay Christian Stores. The book also is available in Spanish and Korean.

In a related area, Taylor said LifeWay is going to “attempt some great things by 2005. We’re planning to enlist a million people to pray for a great evangelical awakening; enlist and equip 100,000 new leaders; net 100,000 more new Bible study units; start 100,000 new churches; and baptize a million new believers.”

Taylor said he is excited and looking forward to the new challenge. “I’m going to be out in the field with pastors and ministers of education, finding out what they are doing and how LifeWay can help,” he said. “I’m a Sunday school man. That’s what I love. That’s where I belong!”

The National Sunday School Leadership Development Event was sponsored by LifeWay Christian Resources
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: ANSWERING QUESTIONS.

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  • Polly House