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Thursday, December 22, 2016
LifeWay celebrates milestones, focuses on future
By Aaron Earls
LifeWay Christian Resources celebrated two historic milestones in 2016, but remain focused on the future of the organization.
In April, LifeWay held a chapel service to commemorate its 125th anniversary, then held a groundbreaking and prayer service on the downtown Nashville property that will house its new headquarters in 2017.
B&H Publishing Group continued to earn critical acclaim and popular success. Christian hip-hop artist Lecrae's autobiography "Unashamed" became a New York Times Bestseller. Perennial best-selling author Priscilla Shirer published her first fiction book, "The Prince Warriors," a young adult fantasy trilogy addressing spiritual warfare. In response to pastors seeking advice, Rainer wrote "Who Moved My Pulpit? Leading Change in the Church."
New training resources were added to aid churches. LifeWay launched "Disciples Path: The Journey," a new long-term study designed to help "make disciples who make disciples." The one-year small group study focuses on helping both new and existing believers understand and apply core Christian doctrines to become more mature disciples.
To help students better understand how to minister in urban environments, LifeWay Students announced Infusion, a six-day event that helps participants approach issues likes poverty, racism, lack of education and health care with a gospel motivation.
Popularity of "The Insanity of God," a feature documentary produced by the International Mission Board and Cooke Pictures and distributed by LifeWay Films, spurred an encore showing in theaters and pushed box office receipts to $1.1 million. Based on the B&H bestselling book by the same name, the film highlights the persecuted church and how faith in God makes a difference in difficult places.
When floods ravaged Louisiana in late August, LifeWay worked to help pastors and churches recover. Pastors and churches impacted received help in restoring Bible study materials and pastoral libraries lost in the floodwaters. World Changers teams also helped in the cleanup and local LifeWay Stores sent volunteers and served as collection spots for donations.
In his August report to the trustees, Rainer said, "LifeWay's future is as bright as ever." He highlighted the hiring of Connia Nelson as the new senior human resources director. She was previously the senior vice president of HR at Verizon. Trustees also heard about a redesign of LifeWay Stores to help costumers find resources more easily and a nearly $2 million redesign of the kids' areas planned next year for stores nationwide.
In October, LifeWay leadership held their first Pipeline conference. Designed to encourage and challenge, the conference featured 10 respected church leaders and drew more than 1,000 in attendance and 3,000 who participated online.
With the sale of LifeWay's downtown property, the larger-than-life Billy Graham statue that had called Nashville home for 10 years found a new home at the Ridgecrest Conference Center in the North Carolina mountains. The new location near the main entrance of Ridgecrest is only a few miles from Graham's mountaintop home.
This year, LifeWay Research surveyed thousands of pastors, Christians and Americans to discover their thoughts on subjects ranging from the election to the end of the world. Among the studies released by LifeWay Research this year:
-- Lack of support reason pastors leave pastorate
No sabbatical. No help with counseling. No clear picture of what's expected. In the study, hundreds of former pastors said these were the crucial elements missing from the final churches they led before quitting the pastorate.
Americans who don't go to church are happy to talk about religion and often think about the meaning of life, the study showed. They're also open to taking part in community service events hosted at a church or going to a church concert.
Dr. Pat Ford joined Church Partnerships of LifeWay Christian Resources in 2007 after 35 years of ministry in church, university, and seminary settings. He can be contacted at 832-725-4253 or email@example.com, and followed on Twitter at @patford.