NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay
Christian Resources, voiced gratitude and enthusiasm for the Southern Baptist
entity’s continued ministry, in addressing LifeWay trustees’ semiannual meeting
Relaying a “progress report” of LifeWay’s ministry and
business components, Rainer noted that the organizational changes at the
executive level approved by trustees last September “have gone exceptionally well.”
“From my perspective, the new leadership structure has
allowed the team to function in ways and at different levels than the first
five years of my tenure,” Rainer said. “From day one, LifeWay’s executive team
has been healthy, has thrived as a result of the change and is taking LifeWay
into Rainer highlighted several partnerships, events, initiatives and products:
- Transformational Church, which continues to have momentum
and growth as a key ministry tool for churches and other organizations (www.transformationalchurch.net).
- A forthcoming small group curriculum that Rainer said will
be “theologically robust, Christ-centered, mission-driven and focused on the
grand narrative of scripture.”
- “Secret Church” simulcasts with David Platt (www2.lifeway.com/secretchurch/?CID=RDR-SecretChurch).
- LifeWay Women.
- Sherwood Pictures and “Courageous,” an upcoming film about
fatherhood and faith, to be released in September.
- Partnership opportunities between LifeWay and the North
American Mission Board to maximize ministry potential for both entities.
Finance and business services
Jerry Rhyne, LifeWay’s CFO and vice president of finance and
business services division, gave an overview of the challenges LifeWay
continues to face in the economic uncertainty.
Drawing information from several research surveys, Rhyne
said there “has been an uptick in optimism” regarding the economic outlook.
However, he noted that based on LifeWay Research’s updated findings, the
economic declines experienced in the overall business community have now hit
churches in a more significant way, with 79 percent of churches reporting a
negative impact from the economic downturn.
Rhyne reported that LifeWay ended 2010 with no surprises
and, thus far after the first quarter of 2011, LifeWay’s operations have
performed about as expected, with revenues being slightly behind plan but above
Although still early in the year, encouraging signs are seen
at LifeWay’s Ridgecrest Conference Center due to several large national events
at the conference center located near Asheville. Glorieta Conference Center in
New Mexico continues to be a challenge in the weak economic climate, Rhyne
said, but the new operational model “is now totally in place and strong
registration for summer youth events and camps is also encouraging.”
LifeWay Christian Stores
LifeWay Christian Stores reached a significant milestone of
service and ministry in 2010 — its 85th anniversary celebration. The retail
ministry of LifeWay began in 1925 with the purchase of Baptist Book Concern in
Louisville, Ky., and now reaches 27 states with more than 160 locations.
“Our heritage is an amazing story of providing products and
services that help bring about spiritual transformation,” said Mark Scott, vice
president of LifeWay’s retail division.
Scott indicated the stores are off to a “solid start” in the
new fiscal year, despite the challenges of the economy and an unusually heavy
dose of inclement winter weather.
Ed Stetzer, vice president of research and ministry
development, shared with trustees his division’s objective of “becoming the
industry and ministry leader in knowledge-based resourcing.”
In addition to serving churches within the Southern Baptist
Convention, Stetzer reported on top-tier initiatives that serve churches in
other evangelical circles, with LifeWay Research providing customized research
and assessment tools for churches and denominations.
Tim Vineyard, vice president of technology, detailed the
strategic focus for LifeWay’s digital shift and resourcing. As a support
element, technology touches every aspect of LifeWay’s ministry and business,
Vineyard told trustees.
“Since we support most of the operational functions of
LifeWay, it is important to have a clear and compelling strategy that draws
together what we do,” he said.
Vineyard emphasized several important strategic processes,
including a time of “discovery,” provoking the company to find how to improve
productivity through advances and upgrades in business technologies. Key
information insights provided by discovery of current tools and processes add a
wealth of value for LifeWay’s operation, he noted.
LifeWay’s technology division manages more than 160 critical
applications to deliver ministry and business capabilities across the
organization. “Making sure that these systems are stable, enhanced and
accessible to those who need them is essential for normal operations,” he said.
Beyond discovery and deployment is the technology division’s
strategic focus to “deliver” operational functionality as a “best practice
company,” Vineyard said. LifeWay must “remain current and creative,” he said.
Vineyard noted LifeWay’s progress in the areas of e-publishing and mobile
application options, citing developments for Apple and Android platforms and
Bestsellers among LifeWay’s apps include Beth Moore’s
Praying God’s Word, Breaking Free and the HCSB Study Bible.
Vineyard updated trustees concerning the progress of
MyStudyBible.com, which he said continues to receive user affirmation in its
beta version and is moving forward with new features, additional content and
Selma Wilson, B&H vice president, reported to trustees a
strong fiscal finish to 2010 as a result of such factors as continued sales strength
of The Love Dare, sustained Bible sales and controlled expenses.
“We ended the year right on plan, on solid ground,” Wilson
said. “But we are planning for growth in 2011 in every channel of this
B&H continues to advance a vibrant e-publishing strategy
across platforms with upcoming releases for Kindle, Nook and iPad devices,
Wilson said, telling trustees that B&H has proven itself as a leader in
(EDITOR’S NOTE – This story was edited together from two
stories that moved on Baptist Press.)
(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical
Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new
Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank
you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or
issues with items we run, please contact [email protected]
or call 919-847-2127.)