GLORIETA, N.M. — Executive
leadership of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention
reported that LifeWay is positioned for continued health and growth despite the
global economic downturn that has affected the way churches and individuals
select programs and resources for spiritual growth and discipleship.
At the semiannual meeting of
LifeWay’s board of trustees, held Sept. 13-14, 2010, at LifeWay Glorieta
Conference Center in New Mexico, executive leaders updated trustees on the
following areas of ministry:
Finance and Business
Vice President and CFO Jerry
Rhyne reported that LifeWay continues to manage effectively the realities of
the “new normal” economic climate, keeping operations on solid footing with a
strong bottom line for the 2010 fiscal year. The finance and business services
division experienced an overall strong year with cost-saving initiatives that
will continue to benefit LifeWay in 2011 and beyond.
Rhyne shared that financial
challenges and cost increases will likely be met through real revenue growth,
slight price increases of resources and reduced operational costs and
“We must keep in mind that
LifeWay is a ministry funded by a business model,” Rhyne said. “And that means
that for us to make the most of our ministry assignment we need to be
productive and effective with our business operations to lead LifeWay into
greater ministry impact in the days and months to come.”
Rhyne also shared that
LifeWay’s conference centers continue to feel the impact of a tough economy,
yet continue to attract guests with new and renovated facilities. Both LifeWay
Ridgecrest Conference Center in North Carolina and LifeWay Glorieta Conference
Center in New Mexico have seen a decrease in overall event attendance, which was
expected as churches scaled back in response to the economic downturn,
according to Rhyne.
Rhyne emphasized that
LifeWay camps at both conference centers remain very popular, with some sold
out well in advance. “I am grateful to see consistent and strong participation
in our camp options,” Rhyne said, noting that updates and renovations to camp
facilities continue to attract attendees.
Vice President and CIO Tim
Vineyard reported that the technology division is leading LifeWay into new areas
of ministry, especially regarding digital resources and solutions.
“A more efficient IT
operation and an environmentally responsible management of technology assets
are key components for moving LifeWay forward to increased productivity and
efficiency across the organization,” Vineyard said.
Vineyard noted that
LifeWay’s technology division is seeking to make the most of digital
capabilities and solutions that create possibilities to strengthen and support
both ministry and business needs.
“Almost every ministry and
business activity at LifeWay is enabled by technology,” he said. “We must
utilize all capabilities at our disposal for advancing our mission to be the
No. 1 Christian resource provider in the world.”
Vineyard told trustees
that LifeWay is currently rated 126th out of top 500 U.S. internet retailers as
reported in the 2010 Internet Retailing Top 500 Guide.
LifeWay also is pursuing an
e-publishing strategy that provides the capability to deliver content in
virtually any format customers may demand, he shared, most notably via iPad and
iPhone apps and also digital curriculum downloads.
“We are making significant
investments with new technologies that will enable LifeWay to better serve our
customers,” said Vineyard. “Our goal is to provide multiple ways for customers
to search, find, select and purchase LifeWay resources to assist them in their
Some of these new solutions
include recently released iPad apps such as “Breaking Free” by Beth Moore and
the HCSB Study Bible — both available in the iTunes AppStore.
launched MyStudyBible.com on Sept. 1 as a new online Bible study resource for
users. Vineyard told trustees that churches may also find digital services
assist them in ministry.
Executive Communications and
Vice President Tom Hellams
highlighted multiple ways his division carries the story of LifeWay ministries further
through community relations, ministry ventures, Holman Bible Outreach
International, and news and information services.
“Our purpose is to support
LifeWay employees and ministries by speaking, serving and sending,” said
Hellams. “Through our communications efforts, we speak on behalf of many in our
organization. Through corporate relations, we organize employee resources and
serve the community on their behalf. And through ministry ventures we mobilize
employees and send them out on LifeWay-sponsored mission trips.”
Hellams recalled the May 1,
2010, flooding in Nashville, Tenn., that affected so many people, including
dozens of LifeWay employees. He shared with trustees the generosity of
employees to donate money and time to serve and support those within the
LifeWay family who had suffered loss.
“It is a joy to work among
people who genuinely seek to live out the gospel in time of need,” Hellams
said. “I’m extremely pleased with the concern and service in Christian love
I’ve seen that LifeWay employees have for others.”
LifeWay Christian Stores
Vice President Mark Scott
reported solid ministry results for 2010 in a “not-so-solid marketplace”
reflected in both the retail industry and economy. _ÑŒ_ÑŒ“We don’t know where the
economy will go, but we do know that consumers and churches are concerned and
careful about spending,” he said.
Scott shared that sales of
Bibles, books and other key product lines continued to grow through LifeWay
stores. “We have solid strategies and sound operating plans,” Scott said. “We
are performing well, and we have very strong relationships with our customers.
We are extremely grateful for each and every one.”
The number of LifeWay
Christian Stores across the nation now stands at 163.
Ed Stetzer, newly elected
vice president for research and ministry development, highlighted the strategic
focus of the new division through a growing number of media through which
LifeWay Research is sharing information, reaching churches and broadening
The digital media world
enables users to “go straight to the content they need” and “use our content in
ways we could not imagine just a few years ago,” Stetzer said. He cited recent
stories on LifeWay Research data that appeared in USA Today and other secular
media, as well as Christian magazines and news services, local news outlets and
a variety of social media.
Stetzer said that LifeWay
Research helps people to understand their contexts and churches for more
effective ministry. _ÑŒ_ÑŒ“Facts are our friends,” he said. “As we help people
know, that helps them do — and as a result churches are more effective as they
live on mission.”
Stetzer also shared with
trustees that the research and ministry development division will strive to be
the premier knowledge-based resource leader.
B&H Publishing Group
Brad Waggoner, newly elected
executive vice president and COO for LifeWay, reported positive financial
closing for B&H Publishing Group at the end of fiscal year 2010, due in
part to the continued strength of Bible sales, which will be further bolstered
with the release of the HCSB Study Bible.
Waggoner praised the
collaborative synergy among LifeWay divisions for the success of key
initiatives that involve B&H, such as Transformational Church, CrossBooks,
“The Love Dare” and a large collection of digital products and resources.
He also shared with trustees
the strong relationship LifeWay has with Sherwood Baptist Church, producers of
“Fireproof” and an upcoming film on biblical fatherhood called “Courageous.”
B&H has secured a
publishing partnership with Michael Catt, pastor of Sherwood Baptist, and the
Kendrick brothers of Sherwood Pictures to broaden the ministry reach of the
“Having worked with Sherwood
on ‘The Love Dare’ products, we are thrilled to partner once again with them to
see what God might do to honor His name through this message on fatherhood,”
Waggoner said. “Our prayer is that many homes and churches are strengthened
through the resources that will arise from the relationship that God has formed
Waggoner concluded his
report by detailing B&H’s current digital presence and its ministry
strategy to release books on the Kindle, Nook and iPad devices. B&H
simultaneously releases new books across platforms, digitally and
“I believe B&H is
well-positioned for success in the digital future,” Waggoner said. “I’m excited
to see what God will continue to do in this area through the leadership of
B&H’s new vice president, Selma Wilson.”
John Kramp, vice president
of church resources, shared with trustees the challenges the division has
experienced as a result of the global financial recession. For individuals,
families, churches and for LifeWay, the recession changed the rules, he said,
but CRD has “responded when the rules changed. We must keep going forward.”
The focus of church
resources remains unchanged, Kramp said, noting that LifeWay’s Transformational
Church initiative provides a message of hope to churches desperate for answers
in these tough times and provides a bedrock to CRD’s emphasis of providing
focused ministry and discipleship resources for age groups from early childhood
to senior adults.
In addition to a
division-wide emphasis on Transformational Church, Kramp noted that church
resources will focus on digital emphases, the partnership with Sherwood
Pictures’ upcoming “Courageous” movie, and the restructuring of LifeWay.com.
Kramp described an array of
products, events and services offered by the church resources division,
including plans for a new preteen resource and three simulcast events, one with
Beth Moore, one with Priscilla Shirer and one with Vicki Courtney. In 2011, the
division will expand its camps for children and teenagers; help churches begin
girls’ ministries; launch effective ministries to young adults; and connect
people in groups, either through Sunday school or small-group ministry.
Kramp also noted that
church resources continues its work to assist black and Hispanic churches in
their ministries and continues to expand its ministry through LifeWay
“While the economic downturn
has changed the rules for many churches,” Kramp said, “our confidence is in the
One who rules and who is building His church.”
In other business the
- Passed a proposed amendment
to bylaw Article II to better reflect the purposes and functions of LifeWay’s
publishing and distribution of resources.
- Filled board vacancies with
the elections of Timothy Turner, senior associate pastor of Porter Memorial
Baptist Church in Lexington, Ky., to replace Larry Purcell as Kentucky trustee;
and Steve McNeil, team leader for Church Health and Communications at the State
Convention of Baptists in Indiana, to replace Joe Mays as Indiana trustee.