Mandrell Highlights God’s Provision and Future Direction for Lifeway • Bibical Recorder
Ben mandrell, President and CEO of Lifeway Christian Resources, expressed confidence in the future of the organization when reporting to the messengers at the 2021 Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting on June 16.
“I am encouraged by the report I bring to you today,” Mandrell told the messengers. “Lifeway Christian Resources exists to create resources that have a radical impact on the lives of people and churches.
Despite the challenges brought on by the pandemic and some that existed before 2020, Mandrell informed those gathered that Lifeway was in a position of strength. “Despite what you’ve heard, Lifeway is not at a clearance sale,” he said. “The way of life is concentrated. “
He noted that the pandemic had forced Lifeway to a time of self-protection, as churches stopped meeting in person, conferences were moved online, and summer camps were canceled. These factors and many more caused Lifeway to miss its revenue budget last year by $ 45 million, according to Mandrell.
The chairman of Lifeway said the organization was able to mitigate some losses with budget cuts and reduced costs. He also noted, “We have experienced God’s good favor in that some of the things we do have skyrocketed during the quarantine season,” highlighting strong sales of books, Bibles, and Bible studies. In 2020, Mandrell said, Lifeway sold more than 2.4 million Bibles and more than 100,000 women participated in a Lifeway Women’s online Bible study.
“The scriptures say that every good and perfect gift comes from the Father above, so we want to recognize in the history of this organization that God has preserved us and brought us through,” Mandrell told the Messengers.
He noted the challenges at Lifeway that were evident when he became president in the summer of 2019: an underfunded pension; store leases not settled following the closure of traditional stores; a new but underused seat; not enough cash reserves; costly renovations needed at the Ridgecrest Conference Center; and a complicated website that scared off potential customers.
When the 2020 pandemic began, Mandrell said Lifeway executives and the board “needed to step on the gas and make significant changes.” The organization sold Ridgecrest to “like-minded people who would move the ministry forward” and has now settled all but two store leases, exiting those at 50 cents on the dollar, according to Mandrell. Throughout the difficult season, Lifeway has not had to use any cash reserves to fund its business operations and is emerging from the pandemic with a stronger cash position than the organization has had for decades, resulting in , according to Mandrell, was “nothing short of miraculous.”
Mandrell also discussed the recent sale of Lifeway’s head office in Nashville. Funds from this sum will be used to bolster the pension fund, bolster cash reserves, invest strategically in what best serves local churches, and buy modest space for creative thinking and collaborative employee work. Because the organization has embraced a work culture from anywhere, Mandrell said the organization hires people from “all parts of the country” who allow Lifeway to create culturally appropriate resources and serving a wider range of churches.
The organization’s president also highlighted the recent rebranding effort, including the new logo which includes a cross to serve as an anchor for the ministry, folded paper to denote the printed page, a pixel to point to a digital future. and a person to reflect on a relational posture. “We want to be by your side in the ministry,” Mandrell said. “We care about church leaders and want to build a personal relationship with you. “
As Lifeway moves forward, Mandrell said they are developing a “laser focus” on what the organization sees as its primary and original goal. The Sunday School Board was started in 1891 “to serve churches with high quality content that is doctrinally sound and easy to use,” he said. “We have initiated a large-scale return to this vision. Our new mission statement says, “Design Trustworthy Experiences That Fuel Ministry,” and that’s what we want to do. We will move forward to build a relational environment for you.
Noting the recent findings from Lifeway Research on the current challenges pastors face, Mandrell said, “Pastors are tired and exhausted, and we want to come alongside pastors and help them.
To conclude his presentation, Mandrell again referred to Lifeway’s original vision and quoted the organization’s founder, Dr. James Frost, “We celebrate the goodness of Him Who brought us here, and granting him our confidence and dedication, we look to the future for bigger things.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Aaron Earls is a writer for LifeWay Christian Resources.)