NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Trustees of LifeWay Christian Resources voted to continue selling the new NIV Bible in LifeWay stores, approved a new vice president for its largest division and elected new board officers.
Meeting Feb. 13-14 at LifeWay offices in downtown Nashville, trustees heard a report from a special task force appointed to follow up on a non-binding resolution approved by the 2011 Southern Baptist Convention that requested LifeWay consider not selling the New International Version (NIV) 2011 Bible in their stores.
Committee chairman Adam Greenway, a member of First Baptist Church, Mt. Washington, Ky., told the board “vast amounts of scholarly research and other relevant information was gathered and studied … and a number of subject matter experts addressed the task force.” Greenway said LifeWay received support for continuing to carry the 2011 NIV from Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Russell Moore, Southern Seminary; Jimmy Draper, former president of LifeWay; George Guthrie, Union University; and Douglas Moo, chairman of the Committee on Bible Translation which translated the new NIV.
Greenway, who serves as senior associate dean of the Billy Graham School at Southern Seminary, also told trustees, “Messengers to the 2011 SBC annual meeting were encouraged to vote for the resolution based on incorrect information.” As an example, Greenway said the 2011 NIV contains no gender-neutral wording for the names of God.
Emphasizing that LifeWay is not endorsing the 2011 NIV, Greenway said, “It is not that we are endorsing the 2011 NIV. We endorse what we publish, and the translation we publish is the Holman Christian Standard Bible. That is the translation that we endorse.” Greenway told trustees, “We do not believe the 2011 NIV rises to the level to where it should be pulled or censored or not carried in our retail chain.”
The task force and the trustee executive committee both unanimously approved the following recommendation: It is recommended that trustees reaffirm the decision of LifeWay to continue to carry the 2011 NIV alongside other versions of the Holy Bible.
After a few minutes of discussion, the motion was unanimously approved.
Trustees also unanimously elected Eric Geiger as the new vice president of the organization’s church resources division (CRD) which produces a vast array of discipleship materials and training events for Bible studies, Vacation Bible School, leadership development, music and worship, and the family.
Geiger comes to LifeWay from Miami, where he served nine years as executive pastor of Christ Fellowship Miami. During that time, the church grew from a weekend attendance of 1,200 to nearly 8,000 and was recognized as one of the fastest growing churches in America.
Geiger co-wrote the book Simple Church with LifeWay president Thom S. Rainer who said he was drawn to Geiger to lead CRD because of his passion for the local church. “Eric Geiger is sold out to the bride of Christ,” Rainer said.
That commitment was evident as Geiger shared his testimony with trustees.
“In the end, the church will endure, not LifeWay,” he said. “I want our people to wake up every morning and think about how best to serve the bride of Christ, not about LifeWay. We do not exist for ourselves, but to serve the churches.”
(Editor’s note: see sidebar story about Geiger’s vision for CRD and LifeWay.)
During his president’s report, Rainer said the state of LifeWay is healthy.
“We are living in a negative time, when our churches are struggling, killing a child in the womb is morally acceptable, and, the American family is under attack,” he said. “But instead of lamenting the times, we should focus on the Source of our strength in the midst of this urgency.”
“The state of LifeWay is healthy, and I don’t know any place I’d rather be than here because we have opportunity to make more of a difference in this time of urgency than perhaps at any time in our nation’s history,” he said. “God has placed us here for such a time as this.”
Rainer said while other Christian publishers no longer exist, “LifeWay continues to move forward by making tough decisions, because if we keep doing the things we have been doing, we will not see the future God has for us.”
Rainer cited several examples of new initiatives and tough decisions including the growing partnership with Sherwood Pictures, producer of the Courageous movie; the new curriculum called The Gospel Project that goes deeper into biblical text and has already been downloaded by 2,000 churches; and, LifeWay’s decision to withdraw from a relationship with the Komen Foundation because of Komen’s relationship to Planned Parenthood.
Ending that relationship “was the right thing to do,” Rainer said, “even though we may sustain financial losses because of it. I regret the losses, but not the decision. As a result, people know they can trust LifeWay to take a biblical stand.”
Rainer said several options are being reviewed for use of the special pink Bibles that were removed from store shelves earlier this year because they promised a donation to Komen for every Bible sold. He assured trustees the Bibles would be used to bring comfort to those suffering through breast cancer, not destroyed.
In other business, LifeWay trustees:
– Elected new board officers including Greenway as chairman; Mark Dance, senior pastor of Second Baptist Church, Conway, Ark., vice chairman; and, Rick Geist, a financial advisor and member of First Baptist Church, Seminole, Okla., recording secretary.
– Approved a report from the board’s audit committee that showed an “unqualified opinion or clean audit” from Ernst & Young accounting firm.
– Discussed and approved responses to eight motions referred to LifeWay by the Southern Baptist Convention during last summer’s meeting. The responses will be reported to the 2012 SBC in New Orleans, June 19-20.
– Heard reports from each of the organization’s vice presidents regarding progress and plans for ministry advance.
– And, recognized seven retiring trustees who are ending their board service.
by Marty King, Director of Communications