EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was updated from its original version.
ATLANTA (BP) — LifeWay Christian Resources trustees unanimously elected Ben Mandrell as the organization’s 10th president during a special-called meeting June 28 in Atlanta.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to lead in such an important season for LifeWay,” Mandrell told trustees during the plenary session. “My first priority is to get our family to Nashville and begin loving the people at LifeWay. There is already an amazing team in place, and I can’t wait to roll up my sleeves and work alongside them.”
Mandrell, 42, comes to LifeWay from his role as lead pastor at Storyline Fellowship in Arvada, Colo. Two days after the June 21 announcement of his nomination to lead LifeWay, Mandrell delivered a heartfelt sermon to his congregation explaining his decision to relocate his family to Nashville.
“All through Scripture, we learn that God is a calling God,” Mandrell said in his sermon. “He dials our number and we have to answer. We have to take His calls.” When considering the decision to accept the search committee’s nomination, Mandrell said he had “a wrestling match with God like I have never experienced before.”
Mandrell has served as lead pastor of Storyline Fellowship since its founding in 2014.
A ‘man of character’
“This is a significant and momentous day in the history of LifeWay,” said trustee chairman Jimmy Scroggins as he thanked the search committee for their hard work and commitment to the task.
“Ben is a man of character, integrity, godly strength and humility,” said Scroggins, lead pastor of Family Church in West Palm Beach, Fla. “I appreciate his relentless commitment to seeing people come to know Christ and to see churches that preach the Gospel have the resources they need to advance the Kingdom.”
Kent Dacus, who led the presidential search committee, said the process of finding the next CEO of LifeWay was extensive, methodical and deliberate with the team examining a diverse field of candidates from a wide variety of backgrounds.
“All throughout the process, we were focused solely on the best person for the position and for the person God was already preparing to lead LifeWay in this new season,” Dacus said. “We found a man who is deeply committed to God’s Word and has an incredible passion for the local church.”
Dacus praised the search committee for their prayerful and steadfast effort the past 10 months. “These men and women have worked in one accord and sought the Lord’s guidance every step of the way,” he said.
LifeWay’s presidential search committee was appointed in August 2018. The committee included chairman Kent Dacus (Calif.), Bill Langley (Ky.), Millie Burkett (Ore.), Brad McLean (Texas), Madeline Harris (Penn.), Todd Fannin (Okla.), and Luther McDaniel (Tenn.).
Southern Baptist leaders respond
When Mandrell’s nomination was announced last week, Southern Baptist leaders began to share their excitement.
“Ben Mandrell is the kind of visionary, disruptive leader that LifeWay needs just at this moment,” said SBC President J.D. Greear. “I am thrilled with this choice.”
Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board, echoed Greear’s enthusiasm. “Ben Mandrell has proven himself as an incredible church planter, pastor and innovative leader. He has a passion to connect and communicate Jesus to a lost world,” Ezell said.
“Ben has invested his life in equipping new believers to grow and walk faithfully in the Lord. He has a unique ability to connect with people of all ages and will be an outstanding steward of LifeWay’s future.”
David Uth, senior pastor of First Baptist Church Orlando, which served as the sending church for Storyline Fellowship, described Mandrell as a strong leader with insight and discernment. “[Ben] has a deep passion for following Jesus and an incredible resolve to do exactly as the Lord leads him.”
Ronnie Floyd, president and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, said Mandrell is a leader with a “compelling vision to reach all people in our generation. How exciting it is to have a pastor like Ben Mandrell called straight from the church to lead LifeWay to assist and resource churches all around the world for gospel advancement.”
A native of Tampico, Ill., Mandrell is a 1998 graduate of Anderson (Ind.) University. He also holds a master of divinity degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a doctor of ministry degree from Union University.
Mandrell and his wife Lynley have been married 18 years. The couple has four children: Ava (15), Max (13), Miles (12) and Jack (11).
“I can see the hand of God preparing me for this significant moment at LifeWay,” Mandrell said.
Read more about Mandrell’s nomination at LifeWay.com/CEOSearch.