Editor's note: Messengers to next month's annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention will consider a recommendation to change the name of the Sunday School Board to LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. SSB President James T. Draper, Jr. recently responded to questions related to the proposed change.
Why is a new name needed?
Our current name no longer reflects the diversity of our ministries. When the Sunday School Board was established in 1891, it was appropriately named to describe its single assignment, producing Sunday school literature. Through the years, the scope of our ministries has expanded dramatically.
Today, in addition to Sunday school, we provide resources and services for discipleship, music, family life, multicultural ministries, pastors and church staff, and many others. We operate a nationwide chain of book stores and two national conference centers. We publish books and Bibles and provide church supplies and gifts.
And this year, new ministries related to church history, Christian schools and home schooling, stewardship education, church history education, and capital fund raising were added to our assignment.
Focus groups with church leaders have also confirmed our current name fails to adequately support our vision of assisting local churches and believers "to evangelize the world to Christ, develop believers, and grow churches by being the best worldwide provider of relevant, high-value, high-quality Christian products and services."
Why did you choose "LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention?"
The word "LifeWay" is rooted in Jesus' words in John 14:6: "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." The three words — Way, Truth, and Life — illustrate the many dimensions of the saving work of Christ. "Way" speaks of the link between God and mankind.
"Truth" reminds us of the complete reliability of Jesus in all that He is and does. And "Life" stresses far more than mere physical existence. The only life worthy of the name is that which Jesus brings, for He is life itself. LifeWay points to the very essence of our Christian faith — The Way to a full and meaningful life. The words "life" and "way" combined as LifeWay indicate action, or "what we do." Truth is the commodity of our organization. Thus, "truth" is represented by the words "Christian Resources."
Are you taking 'Baptist' out of the name?
Absolutely not! Baptist remains in the name in the form it has always had. Our current name is "The Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention." The proposed name is "LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention." Those who refer to the institution as "Baptist Sunday School Board" do so as a shortened version of the official name. It is not the legal name of the agency, nor has it ever been officially approved by messengers to the SBC annual meeting.
At the beginning of the process to explore a new name, we decided that "of the Southern Baptist Convention" must continue to be part of our official name, as it is now. We want people to clearly understand we are an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention.