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SBC DIGEST: Lifeway website honored; Hunter Baker named NGU provost

Lifeway named ‘Best Online Shop’ for fifth straight year

By Aaron Earls/Lifeway

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. — Lifeway Christian Resources was named to Newsweek’s Best Online Shops for the fifth year in a row. Lifeway.com ranked No. 2 in the media category (e.g., books, CDs, DVDs, software) on the list announced earlier this month.

Lifeway CEO Ben Mandrell praised the contributions of those at the organization who have contributed to the improvements of the website.

“This recognition is the result of the commitment and dedication of so many teams and individual employees at Lifeway who continue to strive to better serve churches and our customers,” Mandrell said. “Making Newsweek’s Best Online Shops list again demonstrates we are making progress toward that goal.”

He also said Lifeway is listening to customers to continue improving the site.

“Customers have shared valuable feedback about Lifeway.com which enables us to design the site to best serve them,” he said. “We will continue working to improve our website to make it as easy and efficient as possible for church leaders to find the help and ministry resources they need to be more effective in the work to which God has called them.”

To create the list and rankings, Newsweek partners with market research company Statista, which screens more than 9,500 online shops in the United States. Shops that pass the initial screening then undergo detailed testing based on 36 objective criteria. Additionally, more than 6,000 American online shoppers evaluate the stores using 10 subjective criteria. Based on the combined evaluations, online shops are assigned a score out of 10, with the highest ranking recognized as one of the Best Online Shops.

For Jamie Adams, Lifeway’s chief information technology officer, the recognition for the fifth year in a row is the culmination of the investment the organization has made in the website. “Providing an exceptional and frictionless online experience has been a big part of our strategy,” she said.

Adams pointed to the recent rollout of product and site ratings and reviews as one of the latest contributors to improvement. “Reviews from customers offer real-world experiences and often address specific concerns, making the buying process more transparent,” she said. “For Lifeway, positive reviews and high ratings build trust and credibility, attracting more customers. Negative reviews, on the other hand, provide opportunities for improvement and feedback on customer needs. This feedback loop fosters a healthier marketplace and ensures products and services continually evolve to create customer delight.”

Earlier this year, Lifeway acted on customer feedback to improve the website’s shopping cart and checkout experience. Since then, Adams said Lifeway has seen a “significant boost in customer satisfaction scores.”

She said her team continues to be humbled by this recognition. “This award is a testament to our customer-centric approach and the exceptional employees at Lifeway. I am honored to serve with teammates who have worked countless hours to execute our strategy and vision for an exceptional online experience.”

To see the full list of Best Online Shops 2024, visit Newsweek.com.

Noted evangelical scholar Hunter Baker named NGU provost

By Marty O’Gwynn/NGU

TIGERVILLE, S.C. (BP) – Noted evangelical scholar Hunter Baker has been named provost and dean of the university faculty at North Greenville University, NGU President Gene C. Fant, Jr., announced to the university’s board of trustees Thursday morning (Oct. 19), during its fall meeting. Baker was introduced at the board’s plenary session on the Tigerville campus, and also met with NGU academic leadership Thursday afternoon.

Baker will begin his NGU tenure on Jan. 1, 2024, moving from Union University in Jackson, Tenn. He joined the Tennessee Baptist institution’s faculty in 2010 and has served as dean of arts and sciences and professor of political science since 2018, coordinating the work of more than 90 faculty in 15 academic units. He previously served in administrative and faculty posts at Houston Baptist University (now Houston Christian University).

“Hunter Baker is uniquely called and gifted to serve in this critical role at North Greenville,” Fant said. “NGU’s academic programs and their reputations are ascendant, with fresh recognitions of excellence each year. Dr. Baker will lead our community to higher levels of achievement and innovation, all within the context of our Christ-first mission and our desire to serve church and society.”

Baker will fill the senior administrative position previously held by Nathan A. Finn, who is director of NGU’s newly created Institute for Transformational Leadership. In his five-year tenure as provost, Finn oversaw creation of the university’s core curriculum and a restructuring of the academic administration, creating six colleges to streamline NGU’s academic operations.

“I am excited to come to South Carolina and join the work and Christian mission of North Greenville University,” Baker said. “A conversion to Christianity as a college freshman completely changed the trajectory of my life. I am so glad that something that began back in 1988 has brought me to NGU where I can unite my efforts with a faculty and staff committed to the spiritual, intellectual, and physical flourishing of students rooted in the Gospel.”

A prolific writer and speaker addressing Christianity, religious liberty and public affairs issues, Baker holds two earned doctorates. He completed a juris doctorate from the University of Houston Law Center in 2000, and earned a Ph.D. in religion, politics and society from Baylor University in 2007. He earned a bachelor of science degree from Florida State University in 1991, with a double major in economics and political science, and received a master of public administration degree from the University of Georgia in 1994.

Baker has written three books and contributed chapters to 20 other books. He has contributed numerous articles for journals in both academic and politics, culture, and religion arenas. He also is a regular columnist for World Opinions. He presented the President’s Distinguished Lecture at NGU during Fant’s inauguration week in April 2018. His lecture was titled “The Need for Christian Statesmanship.”

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