August 2008 Issue
Biblical Solutions for Life
by Rob Phillips
J.M. Frost started small and dreamed
big. In 1891, the forty-three-year-old pastor had a desk in a
corner of a newspaper office and a little money that he borrowed
from his wife. With the Southern Baptist Convention's blessing,
he launched what is today one of the world's largest providers
of Christian resources Bibles, church literature, books,
music, audio and video recordings, church supplies, and Internet
LifeWay Christian Resources, originally the Sunday School Board,
began in Nashville publishing Sunday School literature. Today,
LifeWay ministries touch lives throughout the United States and
around the world.
LifeWay operates as a 501(c)(3) religious nonprofit organization
and is the only SBC entity that has never received Cooperative
Program dollars or other financial support from the denomination.
What's more, LifeWay reinvests income above operating expenses
in mission work and other ministries around the world.
In 2007, LifeWay contributed $790,000 to the SBC operating
budget. In addition, LifeWay gave $3.1 million to Baptist state
conventions, providing work through Sunday school development,
discipleship training, worship and music, pastor and staff leadership
support, as well as scholarships for church members for training
in ministry areas assigned to LifeWay. In all, financial and in-kind
contributions by LifeWay to the SBC totaled nearly $12 million
LifeWay people are committed to the company's vision: "As
God works through us
we will help people and churches know
Jesus Christ and seek His Kingdom by providing biblical solutions
that spiritually transform people and cultures."
LifeWay's workforce includes more
than two thousand full-time and regular part-time employees, nearly
1,500 of whom work in the home office in Nashville. In addition,
LifeWay operates two of the largest Christian conference centers
in the country (Ridgecrest, North Carolina, and Glorieta, New
Mexico), a warehouse in Lebanon, Tennessee, and nearly one hundred
and fifty LifeWay Christian Stores across the country.
LifeWay directs its ministries through six divisions:
Church Resources works closely with churches to provide
a wide range of ministries and age-group resources encompassing
Sunday school, Vacation Bible School, leadership development,
evangelism, discipleship, music, worship, marriage, and parenting.
Biblical solutions include training and enrichment events, and
resources in print, on CD, DVD and the Web. New resources include
a young-adult ministry called Threads; Worship KidStyle; a new
Baptist hymnal soon to be available in print and digitally (The
Worship Project); expanded resources for African-American
and Hispanic churches; and an initiative to provide key evangelism
and discipleship resources in more than fifty languages via free
LifeWay Christian Stores operates nearly one hundred
and fifty outlets in two dozen states, serving Southern Baptists
and the wider evangelical market. The division also serves customers
online through Lifewaystores.com, and through LifeWay Special
Services that include everything from offering envelopes to church
buses. In addition, the stores offer a minister's discount and
a money-saving LifeWay Rewards program for all customers.
B&H Publishing Group produces Bibles, books, audio
and video products, and church supplies, selling to bookstores
and other retailers. The Holman Christian Standard Bible,
introduced in 2004, quickly became one of the best-selling Bibles
in the country for its accuracy and readability. New study Bibles
using the Holman CSB, such as The Apologetics Study
Bible, have proven highly popular among ministers and laypeople
who want to go deeper in their understanding of God's Word. A
new emphasis on resources for pastors, seminary professors and
students, and scholars has been launched with the B&H Academic
line of resources.
The Technology division provides five key technology
services in support of LifeWay ministries: strategic; retail;
business; enterprise; and Internet technologies. The division
oversees the content and functionality of LifeWay.com and its
affiliated pages. In all, LifeWay.com houses more than twelve
thousand articles in addition to countless other resources and
Finance and Business Services, responsible for LifeWay's
financial policies and general accounting, directs many key LifeWay
business services including logistics, legal, investments, purchasing,
real estate, strategic planning, corporate services, and human
resources. In addition, the division operates conference centers
at Ridgecrest, North Carolina, and Glorieta, New Mexico, which
minister to more than one hundred thousand visitors each year.
The Executive Communications and Relations division
produces LifeWay's news and information services, directs corporate
events, builds corporate relations, and supports the office of
the president in maintaining good relationships with other SBC
entities, state conventions, and other evangelical organizations.
The division also coordinates the LifeWay Community Fund, which
supports ten like-minded charities in Middle Tennessee; and directs
LifeWay sponsored, employee-led mission trips, which over the
last eleven years have included seventy-four trips involving 1,029
volunteers and resulting in 97,328 professions of faith.
In addition to these six divisions, LifeWay Research
was launched early in 2006 with the goal of becoming the premier
Christian research organization in the world. Already, the new
organization is helping churches become "breakout churches,"
understanding and impacting the culture for Christ. To date, LifeWay
Research has released the results of more than a dozen key surveys
addressing the views of the churched and unchurched on issues
such as why young adults drop out of church, how the unchurched
view Christians, why so many people switch churches, and other
topics including climate change, stem-cell research, homosexuality,
and the impact of the economy on churches. LifeWay Research also
conducts independent surveys on behalf of clients.
Leading LifeWay Christian Resources is President Thom Rainer,
the company's ninth chief executive. "From humble beginnings,
LifeWay has grown into an international ministry by staying true
to our vision of helping people and churches know Jesus Christ,"
says Rainer. "Nashville is our home and a wonderful
home it is. But the world is our field of labor, and we are passionate
about sharing the Gospel and providing biblically sound resources
that exalt our Savior and encourage His followers."
Rob Phillips is a member of Brentwood Baptist
Church in Brentwood, Tennessee, and is director of the Communications
Department for LifeWay Christian Resources.
LifeWay's SBC Ministry Assignments
LifeWay's first task was the publication of Sunday school literature.
More than a century later, LifeWay continues to provide this service,
along with ten other SBC ministry assignments, including:
1. The development of church ministries
2. Ministries to college and university students
3. Christian schools and home school ministries
4. Ministries to men and women
5. The operation of conference centers and camps
6. The publication of books and Bibles
7. The operation of LifeWay Christian Stores
8. Church architecture consultation and services
9. Capital fund raising
10. Conducting research and compiling statistics
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