By Marty King
LifeWay Christian Resources is facing “headwinds of change with an attitude of abundance and not scarcity,” according to president and CEO Thom S. Rainer.
Speaking to LifeWay’s board of trustees during their regular semi-annual meeting August 25-26, Rainer cited Proverbs 12:11 as a source of wisdom and inspiration.
“‘The one who works his land will have plenty’ (HCSB) is about stewardship, work ethic and accountability,” Rainer said. “No matter the challenges before us, God doesn’t want us to think we are in a world of scarcity, but in a world of plenty.”
“We could not have anticipated 10 years ago the multitude of challenges we face today in the economy, changing church practices, and diversity of the marketplace. But, we know, just as Solomon knew, that we serve an unlimited, all powerful God of plenty who supplies all our needs.”
During his report, Rainer explained LifeWay’s decision announced earlier in August to conduct a preliminary study of the ministry’s 14.5 acres of property in downtown Nashville. He told trustees that LifeWay is the largest real estate owner in Nashville’s downtown business district but no longer needs that much property.
“Now we have lots of extra space including more than 400 vacant workspaces,” he said.
LifeWay CFO and vice president of finance, Jerry Rhyne, told trustees much of the vacant space was created when LifeWay’s warehousing and distribution functions were moved to new facilities east of Nashville several years ago.
Rhyne said he anticipates the feasibility study will take several months, and assured trustees any recommendation to sell property would require their review and approval.
Rhyne also presented LifeWay’s 2015 budget for approval. The proposed revenue budget, which would begin in October, 2014, is $513.1 million, a 2.2 percent increase over the 2014 projected revenue. Trustees approved the budget as proposed.
LifeWay trustees also heard reports from each divisional vice president and executive vice president Brad Waggoner who reported on the ministry’s growing international reach.
“Eighty-five percent of evangelicals are outside the United States. It’s time for one of the world’s largest, most trustworthy Christian publishers to be more focused on supporting the growing global church,” Waggoner said.
Sharing statistical highlights of LifeWay’s global ministry, Waggonner said, “Last year LifeWay Christian Resources sold more than 1 million products, in 40 languages, in 76 countries. And the number one product was Bibles.”
He focused on LifeWay’s ministry in several specific countries. “It’s amazing to see what God is doing in China,” he said. “Opportunities are growing in China as we work with an established ministry there to do training events for churches. We’ve also partnered with an author in Brazil to print more than 200,000 of the Fishers of Men Bible in Portuguese. And we have tremendous opportunities for helping churches reach children in Mexico and India.”
“You are going to see amazing things around the world in the years ahead as LifeWay is committed to serving the global church with trustworthy resources,” Waggoner concluded.
Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd also encouraged and challenged the trustees through a brief video presentation. Floyd invited trustees to attend the SBC annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio, June 16-17 including Crossover Columbus “to demonstrate love and compassion, resulting in many who will come to the Lord Jesus Christ.” Floyd also invited trustees to “join the movement” of prayer by signing up at SBC.net/PresidentsPage.
Rainer introduced and welcomed 11 new trustees to the LifeWay board including: Don Blackmore, discipleship pastor, Central Baptist Church, Jonesboro, Ark.; Kenneth Carlton, associate pastor, Kempsville Baptist Church, Virginia Beach, Va.; Linda Dean, member of Emmanuel Baptist Church, Farmington, N. Mex.; Todd Fannin, member of Life Fellowship Church, Pryor, Okla.; Burt Landers, member of First Baptist Church, Shelbyville, Tenn.; and Brice Mandaville, pastor, First Baptist Church, Seguin, Texas.
New members also included: Brad McLean, pastor, First Baptist Church, New Braunfels, Texas.; Sandra Peoples, member of Stewartstown Baptist Church, Stewartstown, Pa.; J.D. Perry, member of Jefferson Baptist Church, Baton Rouge, La.; Jimmy Scroggins, pastor, Family Church, West Palm Beach, Fla.; and, Roger Yancey, director of missions, Conroe, Texas.
Marty King is director of corporate communications for LifeWay Christian Resources. Carol Pipes and Jon Wilke contributed to this story.