Lifeway Christian Resources trustees unanimously voted during their meeting Jan. 26 to forward to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Executive Committee (EC) recommended revisions to Lifeway’s mission and ministries statement.
The revisions included adding the resourcing of Vacation Bible School as a ministry assignment and removing or amending assignments related to church architecture, capital fundraising, direct support of campus-based ministry to college and university students, faculty, and administration, and the operation of conference centers, camp facilities and brick-and-mortar stores.
“The majority of Lifeway’s ministry assignments were assigned to us in 1995,” Lifeway president Ben Mandrell said in a separate interview. “Since then, the digital revolution, changing church practices and, most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic have all contributed to significant shifts in Lifeway’s business model and how we minister to our church customers. The internet has touched almost every facet of our daily lives – from how we consume media, how we connect socially, how we shop, how we work, even how we connect with our local church.
“The current generation of church leaders are feeling the tremendous effects of these changes. And the current pandemic has only compounded the pressures church leaders are feeling. These sea changes have reinforced the need to update our ministry assignments as Lifeway adapts to meet the needs of churches today and tomorrow.”
The recommendation also included adding the phrase “designing trustworthy experiences that fuel ministry” to Lifeway’s mission statement.
“We’ve added this phrase because it boils down Lifeway’s purpose into six words,” Mandrell said. “We want to be known as a ministry that will go the extra mile to thoughtfully design tools that help people meet God and grow closer to Him. Whether it’s curriculum, short-term studies, ministry training, a new Bible, camps or events, it has to be well-designed and provide a trustworthy experience, or we no longer offer it.”
As approved, the Lifeway mission statement would read: “Lifeway Christian Resources exists to assist churches and believers to evangelize the world to Christ, develop believers and grow churches by designing trustworthy experiences that fuel ministry and by being the best provider of relevant high quality, high value Christian products and services.”
Mandrell said the Great Commission was not given to Lifeway, but to the local church.
“Our job is to come alongside churches and individuals and fuel their ministries as they fulfill the Great Commission,” he said. “That is our most important task.”
Lifeway will make a report to the SBC EC in February with the intention of presenting the recommendation to messengers at the SBC annual meeting in June.
The proposed mission and ministries statement is available to review here.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Carol Pipes is director of corporate communications for Lifeway Christian Resources.)