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Most Texas Baptist churches still using LifeWay literature

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–More than 80 percent of the nearly 5,000 Baptist churches in Texas purchased Bible-based literature during the winter quarter from LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, LifeWay told Baptist Press.
The March 12 response from the SBC publishing house was requested after media reports that the Baptist General Convention of Texas had approved spending up to $250,000 for the “development, production and distribution of literature” for Texas Baptist churches.
According to a March 3 story in the Texas weekly newsjournal, Baptist Standard, the “biblically based, Texas-focused” Bible study literature will appear in March 2000. The announcement by the BGCT followed approval by messengers to the 1997 state convention meeting of a recommendation “that literature and other resources for Sunday school, discipleship training, missions organizations and other Bible study groups be developed as either a supplement to existing materials or a substitute for existing materials for those who so choose.”
According to the state paper, the literature project, with an authorization to spend $250,000, is being developed by the BGCT Sunday school/discipleship division.
With more than 80 percent of the state’s churches using LifeWay-related products, James T. Draper Jr., president of LifeWay Christian Resources, said LifeWay is “grateful for the opportunity that has been ours for 108 years to provide Bible-based literature for Southern Baptist churches, including almost 4,000 in Texas.
“Following input from Texas Baptists and others, we are excited that our 21st century curriculum, with its increased options, will contribute at an even higher level to spiritual growth of persons of all ages,” Draper said. “Through evangelistic efforts such as FAITH and other new initiatives, we are committed to continue partnering with Texas churches in achieving the Great Commission.”
Publication of the Texas materials does not signal that the Texas convention is forming a “publishing house,” despite critics’ claims, a BGCT official told the Baptist Standard. He said Cooperative Program unified budget funds will not be used to print and distribute the materials but the article did not identify from where the funds would come.
After the market for the literature develops, it is to be produced on a “cost-recovery” basis — with subscription fees paying for publication, the Baptist Standard reported.
The Texas convention has hired a Georgia company to develop the curriculum with writers to be “well-known, reliable Texas Baptists,” the paper said. The literature will be non-dated quarterlies.
Traditionally, the SBC publishing house has produced Bible study literature for most Southern Baptist churches, although some also use other literature available from a number of independent sources. However, this will be the first time, apparently, a state convention related to the Southern Baptist Convention will produce Bible study literature for its affiliated churches.

    About the Author

  • Herb Hollinger