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LifeWay trustees discuss economy
Baptist Press
March 03, 2011

LifeWay trustees discuss economy

LifeWay trustees discuss economy
Baptist Press
March 03, 2011

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

Feb. 14.

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

last year.

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.

Research/ministry development

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.

Technology

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

more.

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

functionality.

B&H

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

publishing ministry.”

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

digital resources.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – This story was edited together from two

stories that moved on Baptist Press.)

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