RIDGECREST – Thom S. Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian
Resources, addressed trustees during their semiannual meeting with a message of
hope during tough times.
“Seismic changes” in church practices and the culture at large continue to
provide unique challenges to LifeWay’s mission, Rainer said. “We cannot
continue to just do business as usual if we expect to make a difference today.”
Bringing LifeWay to the point needed for organizational success is like
retrofitting a train while moving at high speeds, he noted. “We cannot simply
abandon those things that have been foundational for LifeWay’s ministry
success. But we must build on those key elements, make important changes and
add new measures for the future of LifeWay’s impact.
“As this economic downturn challenges so much of our operation, the great news
is that God continues to bless us and use us,” Rainer said.
“It is incredible how God continues to work through LifeWay,” he told trustees.
“Although we face great challenges, we embrace a greater hope. We must be
agents of hope and a light in the darkness as we provide biblical solutions for
individuals and churches.”
Among the many challenges facing LifeWay, Rainer emphasized:
- The challenge of a diverse constituency with many different methodological
and cultural expressions within the denominational family. “There was a day you
could say ‘Southern Baptist’ and know what that meant. That day is no longer,”
Rainer said. “Our greatest strength is also our greatest challenge.”
- The current economic challenge. “Here we are in one of the toughest
economies, but I’ve never been more excited about what God has done and how He
has used LifeWay. This is a time of great hope.”
Rainer’s address focused not just on present challenges, but also on LifeWay’s
“The greatest days of this organization are just around the corner,” he said. “We
are on the verge of doing some important things for the Kingdom that I believe
In an effort to adapt to current issues, Rainer celebrated an increased focus
on innovation at LifeWay and an increasingly streamlined approach to business
“I am convinced that the best days of innovation, centered on biblical truth
and anchored in God’s Word, lay before us,” he said.
Rainer also noted the cultural emphasis within LifeWay toward a greater
“We are already focused on our customers,” he said. “But taking our commitment
to the core value of ‘customer’ means providing the right resources through the
right medium at the right price. We are committed to this focus.
“We have had a tremendous history since 1891,” Rainer said. “But we have a
great future as one of the largest Christian content providers in the world.
God still uses LifeWay to point thousands of people to Christ each year and to
transform lives for His glory. In a very real sense, our 165 stores across the
nation serve as ministry outposts for Kingdom work.
“Our hope and purpose is contained in a simple vision statement: ‘As God works
through us … We will help individuals and churches by providing biblical
solutions for life,’“ Rainer told trustees. “May He continue to strengthen
LifeWay with a great hope, for a great task, in times of great challenge.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Micah Carter is director of communications for LifeWay
Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.)