LifeWay trustees discuss economy
    March 3 2011 by Baptist Press

    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 (
    • 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 (
    • 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.

    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, which he said continues to receive user affirmation in its beta version and is moving forward with new features, additional content and functionality.

    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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    3/3/2011 7:27:00 AM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments

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