By Aaron Wilson
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — New LifeWay Christian Resources President and CEO Ben Mandrell presented employees their first assignment under his leadership—seek to impact people for Christ.
Mandrell issued this challenge to employees in his first chapel address held July 17 at LifeWay’s corporate office.
To help employees live out this goal in their personal lives, Mandrell provided each employee an “impact card” and instructed them to list three unchurched people they can attempt to influence for Christ over the next year.
“I want to celebrate relationships and authenticity with one another and with non-religious people,” Mandrell said. “I want to celebrate the gospel of Jesus that has transformed our lives. As long as we keep that the [main] thing and create resources where people in every part of the world can experience it, we’ll never be without work to do.”
Mandrell and his wife, Lynley, shared how the gospel drew them to become church planters after realizing that, as a couple in ministry, they didn’t have any unchurched friends.
“Our kids were in a program at church where one night a year they were encouraged to bring an unchurched friend with them or, as a consolation prize, to bring three cans for the soup kitchen,” said Mandrell.
After three years in a row of driving to the grocery store to buy canned goods, the Mandrells realized the reason their kids didn’t have any unchurched friends was because they as parents weren’t modeling relationships with people outside the church. Mandrell said this realization served as a wake-up call to get them asking where God was leading them to step out of their comfort zone—a call that led them to become church planters.
In 2014 the Mandrells moved to Colorado to launch Storyline Fellowship, which grew out of a Bible study in their house to become a thriving church with 1,600 people in weekly attendance.
Mandrell shared three lessons church planting taught him that he believes will carry over to LifeWay: living on mission is central to Christians’ lives, ministry is supposed to be hard, and God can do great things when His people take great risks.
Mandrell told employees these principles are ones to embrace together as an “army of creatives.”
“Ministry is a team sport, and Lynley and I are jumping all in [at LifeWay],” he said. “If there’s one title I want to tout more than any other they’re giving me, it’s that I’m so glad to be the leader of team LifeWay. I believe wholeheartedly in what we do and I will give you all of my heart,” he promised employees.
Mandrell said he intends to foster an environment at LifeWay where people are known and loved and where creativity is celebrated. He also shared he wants to help LifeWay become more in touch with the culture in order to equip Christians to build relationships and take the gospel to unchurched people.
One of his first priorities as president of LifeWay will be focusing on the organizational health of the company by listening and learning from employees. Another priority will be analyzing how the LifeWay brand is perceived, especially among younger audiences. He also said he hopes to expand LifeWay’s influence outside of primarily the South and to serve the body of Christ scattered across the nation and around the world.
Mandrell ended his first chapel by praying with employees for God’s wisdom as LifeWay enters a new and exciting season of ministry.
“I believe in this room are some of the greatest ideas, some of the most talented people, and some of the most exciting visionary leaders on the planet,” he prayed, “Lord, give us a servant’s heart and help us to be willing to do whatever we need to do to make LifeWay what it needs to be.”
Aaron Wilson is a writer for LifeWay Christian Resources.