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LifeWay leadership reports challenge, growth
Micah Carter and Russ Rankin, LifeWay
September 16, 2010
10 MIN READ TIME

LifeWay leadership reports challenge, growth

LifeWay leadership reports challenge, growth
Micah Carter and Russ Rankin, LifeWay
September 16, 2010

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

Services

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

expenses.

“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.

Technology

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.

Photo by Russ Rankin

From left: Thom S. Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources, is joined by Selma Wilson, LifeWay’s new B&H Publishing Group vice president; Brad Waggoner, new executive vice president; and Ed Stetzer, elected by trustees as vice president of research and ministry development.

“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

ministry.”

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.

LifeWay also

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

at LifeWay.com/DigitalChurch to

assist them in ministry.

Executive Communications and

Relations

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.

LifeWay Research

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

LifeWay’s reach.

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

movie._ь

“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

between us.”

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

traditionally.

“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.”

Church Resources

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

International.

“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.”

Other business

In other business the

trustees:

  • 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.