Raising the Standard
Helping People Come to Christ and Become More Like Him
James T. Draper, Jr., president of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, often says the standard for LifeWay's resources must be: Does this point non-believers to Christ and does it help Christians become more like Jesus? Are lives being changed?
Out of this concern, LifeWay's vision for ministry and its commitment to Southern Baptists is: "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 individuals and cultures."
A few examples illustrate how resources from LifeWay have provided biblical solutions for specific individuals:
Andy Lanford is an eighth grader who is in his fourth semester of FAITH, Southern Baptists' Sunday School evangelism strategy, at First Baptist Church, Spartanburg, S.C. In January, Andy's team went to see a student at his home. The father told the group his son wasn't home. So Andy instead asked the father the key question in FAITH, "In your personal opinion, what do you understand it takes for a person to go to heaven?" He then went on to lead the man to accept Christ.
Most Southern Baptists, by now, have heard about Sunday School for a New Century. The new curriculum choices became available in September and many of you are using those resources in your churches.
But Sunday School for a New Century is not just about new curriculum. It's about spiritually transformed people. Sunday School is the foundational strategy in a local church for leading people to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and for building Great Commission Christians.
When plans for new curriculum were made public, a Sunday School teacher from California, responding to information about the new Family Bible Study curriculum, wrote, "I've been teaching Sunday School for many years, and it has been a desire of my heart to see the families studying the same material. Thank you for seeing this need and acting upon it."
Meeting customer needs also involves a personal touch, as one family learned.
A site review request was e-mailed to LifeWayonline, LifeWay's filtered Internet service. The request, allegedly from a parent, read: "My son is obsessing about porn and sex and I am trying to teach him different. Please unlock this page so I can clear it out of his mind and teach him the right way. Please respond soon." The "page" requested to be opened was a porn site.
LifeWayonline personnel quickly recognized this request likely came from a child or teenager and notified the parents. They responded with this message.
"To the wonderful staff at LifeWayonline! Bless you and thanks for alerting us to our son's effort to 'fool' you. Obviously he is the author and not his father. This kind of thing is exactly the reason we knew LifeWayonline was the way to go."
Scott Etheridge works in LifeWay's Catalog store. He relates the story that one Friday at LifeWay's weekly chapel service in Nashville he had acknowledged to God the distance he was feeling. Scott prayed that the Lord would show him any sin or disobedience that might be hindering the relationship.
Later that day, he received a call from a man who said he wanted to know about eternal life. Someone had left a tract by that name at his door. The man was searching, and he hoped this tract might contain some truth that would help him. Scott spoke about the promises of God and the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. After talking with this man for twenty-five minutes, Scott asked him if he would like to invite Jesus into his heart. The man said, "yes," and Scott led him in a prayer of repentance and salvation.
In an e-mail to his supervisor, Scott wrote: "God is an awesome God! How He answers prayer and weaves it into His Kingdom agenda is beyond me. I thank Him for using me and answering my prayer at the same time."
Making resources available is a part of LifeWay's continuing effort to bring spiritual transformation to individuals and cultures. Being used by God as resources to provide biblical solutions for life is the vision for ministry of those who work at LifeWay.