HOUSTON – LifeWay Christian Resources continues to experience “God’s hand and God’s favor,” President Thom S. Rainer said in his report to messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention in Houston.
LifeWay unveiled in its presentation an updated and enhanced version of “Bible Studies for Life,” LifeWay’s most popular Bible study series, reaching more than 1.5 million people in 30,000 churches.
Following a video describing the curriculum, Eric Geiger, vice president of church resources, and Ronnie Floyd, pastor of Cross Church in Springdale, Ark., and general editor of the curriculum, introduced messengers to how Bible Studies for Life focuses on real-life issues targeting the unreached and unchurched and is designed to connect the unconnected, strengthen families and disciple people with wisdom.
“All of LifeWay’s Bible studies are rooted in scripture, focused on Jesus and applicable to life,” Geiger said. “The new Bible Studies for Life has the starting point of life. It is designed to help churches and small groups understand where the Bible meets their life.”
Floyd led an advisory team of pastors and ministry leaders from across the nation to help design the new material from a church perspective.
“We designed this curriculum series listening to leaders from churches of all sizes and all walks of life and ministry,” Geiger said. “I can assure all Southern Baptists that Bible Studies for Life comes from the church to the church.”
Floyd said every study lasts six weeks and is designed around books of the Bible, various themes such as stewardship and the Great Commission, and some speak to morality, life’s pressures and mental health issues.
“This is where the Bible meets life,” Floyd said of the new curriculum series.
Geiger expressed hope that Bible Studies for Life helps churches in three specific areas: connecting the unconnected, strengthening families and discipling with wisdom.
“We know from research that people who are connected serve more sacrificially, they give more generously, they share the Gospel more and they are cared for carefully,” Geiger said. “We believe Bible Studies for Life will help churches connect people to groups.”
In listening sessions with pastors and church leaders, the curriculum team learned that one of their challenges is helping families grow spiritually stronger. Geiger said the studies from kids through adults are aligned every week around the same biblical concept “so moms and dads can more easily discuss with their children and students what the Lord is teaching them.”
Geiger said another challenge church leaders face is that their groups and classes are studying different things and they are unsure if they are making disciples.
“We built Bible Studies for Life on a wise discipleship framework, validated by research, so we can say with confidence that it disciples people with wisdom,” Geiger said.
Bible Studies for Life will be available for kids, students and adults in six-week sessions and 13-week sessions.
(Photo by Bill Bangham)
LifeWay Christian Resources President Thom S. Rainer introduced to Southern Baptists MinistryGrid.com, a subscription-based, online leadership development platform that will have more than 1,000 videos on various topics, during his report at the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting. The customizable site will launch in the fall and can have a church’s own name on the site, Rainer said.
During the LifeWay report, Rainer also introduced a new online training platform called Ministry Grid, launching in November, “that will change the way many think about leadership development in the local church while also changing the way we do training.”
Rainer said Ministry Grid will give more pastors the ability to accomplish Paul’s admonition in Ephesians 4 to train the saints for the work of ministry.
Rainer also recommended SBC Executive Committee President Frank Page’s new book, Melissa, which tells the powerful story surrounding Page’s daughter’s suicide.
“Many of us in vocational ministry want to act like our homes have no problems,” Rainer said. “Frank Page takes down the facade and allows us to see a real family with real struggles.”
Rainer said he wished every Christian would read the book in an effort to understand some of the issues behind depression and suicide and to more effectively minister to those who are hurting.
“Perhaps a movement will grow from this book,” Rainer said. “Perhaps lives will be saved from this darkness because we have a greater awareness and sensitivity to this need.”
Rainer said he is glad to serve in an increasingly exciting time at LifeWay as the entity continues “to draw closer to churches and serve them more deeply, resulting in a greater ability to serve the bride of Christ.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Carol Pipes is a writer for LifeWay Christian Resources. See SBC 2013 for more about the annual meeting.)