|Type||Religious non-profit organization|
|Industry||Publishing Christian media|
Incorporated on October 5, 1983 as the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
|Founder||James Marion Frost|
Number of employees
|Parent||Southern Baptist Convention|
|Divisions||Five; see article|
Lifeway Christian Resources, based in Nashville, Tennessee, is the Christian media publishing and distribution division of the Southern Baptist Convention and provider of church business services. Until the end of its physical retail presence in 2019 it was best known for its brick and mortar LifeWay Christian Stores, one of the two major American retailers of Christian books and products (the other being Mardel Christian & Education). Lifeway produces curriculums and Bible studies used in Sunday schools and other church functions. Lifeway publishes the Christian Standard Bible (the successor to the Holman Christian Standard Bible), as well as Christian books and commentaries through B&H Publishing. Lifeway has a research division that studies Protestant trends and provides contract research services. In addition, it distributes many Christian resources created by outside parties. It distributes and sells many church products such as communion supplies and upholstery. Lifeway also provides church business services.
While Lifeway is a non-profit and part of the Southern Baptist Convention, it receives no church funding through the SBC's cooperative program Instead, Lifeway is self-funded through the sales of its products.
In 1891 James Marion Frost, a 43-year-old pastor, founded "The Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention" after that year's annual meeting in Birmingham, Alabama. In 1925, the Board began operating retail bookstores under the name "Baptist Book Store." According to Jeffrey Gros, the Sunday School Board was "one of the principal sources of literacy across the South."
Around 1971, the Board began using the "LifeWay" imprint on some of its materials and as the name for retail stores in certain markets, reflecting an expansion of items sold which included items produced by others, some of whom were not Southern Baptist. From 1996 to 1998, the Board rebranded its stores under the LifeWay banner and officially changed its name.
In 2002, LifeWay acquired Serendipity House, a publisher of Bible studies for small groups.
In 2017, Lifeway staff moved out of the Draper Tower and the Sullivan Tower into new headquarters in the Capitol View, Nashville area. In 2021, it was announced the building would be sold in favor of a smaller office as the workforce continues the trend of remote working.
In January 2019, Lifeway announced that it would cut staff and close some of its 170 stores, and two months later, it announced that it would be closing all of them and shift its focus to the e-commerce side of the business.
B&H is the primary publishing of Lifeway Christian Resources. B&H traces its publishing history to 1863, when the Sunday School Board was formed in 1863 at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Greenville, South Carolina. Some of its first leaders were John Albert Broadus and Basil Manly Jr. The first board and its publishing activities were absorbed by the Home Mission Board in 1873. The new Sunday School Board took over the publishing operations in 1891. By 1960, the board was using the Broadman imprint.
In 1979, the Sunday School Board acquired bible publisher A. J. Holman from J. B. Lippincott & Co. Holman started by acquiring the publishing activities of the Sower family. In 1993, the Holman Bible Company and Broadman Press merged to become Broadman & Holman. Broadman & Holman name was shortened to B&H.
B&H currently publishes under several imprints, including flagship B&H Books (also called B&H Publishing), B&H Academic, B&H Kids, B&H Español and Holman Bible Publishers. The CSB Bible as well as several commentaries are published under Holman Bible Publishers. B&H Academic develops textbooks, educational resources and market-oriented works of biblical scholars, theologians, and Christian academics.
Lifeway Research, the research division of Lifeway, conducts polls on trends with Protestantism and Evangelicalism in North America. Lifeway partners with Outreach Magazine to produce the Outreach 100- a report publicizing the 100 largest churches by attendance and by growth in the United States. Lifeway Research conducts a variety of polls on surveys on topics such as church attendance, church member's behaviors, public opinion on social issues, pastoral trends and other issues of pertinence to Christianity's influence in North America. It published its research findings through their website and through collaboration with multiple partners. It also publishes Facts and Trends, a publication highlighting research that specifically targets pastors and ministry leaders. Additionally, it publishes several books, podcasts and other resources disseminating their research finds. Lifeway Research offers custom research services for churches, parachurch organizations and ministries.
Lifeway Research has also developed several assessments used by Southern Baptist churches and others that are designed to assess church members' spiritual growth, potential church revitalization efforts and church planting.
World Changers was an organization that was an entity of LifeWay Student Ministries. It provided national youth work projects. During projects, students typically spent one week in repairing damaged homes. The missions agency for World Changers was the North American Mission Board until 2011, when LifeWay took over.
The organization's first service projects began in the summer of 1990. The host city of the first project was Briceville, Tennessee. In 1992, World Changers expanded abroad with a project in Ciudad Victoria, Mexico. For each project, youth and adults provided labor at their own expense for substandard homes. All participants were divided into crews for the week. At each work site, crews usually painted, reroofed, or performed other light construction jobs.
In January 2011, high school and college students volunteers of World Changers returned to Rock Hill, South Carolina to continue to help by substantially improving homes in need throughout the city. World Changers planned to recruit as many as 350 volunteers and help as many as 33 homes in Rock Hill that year.
Although Lifeway sells products created by non-SBC persons and entities, its products generally feature Christian teachings from a conservative perspective (consistent with the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message). It will not sell, and will if needed discontinue selling, works by authors who disagree with its policies. For example, it pulled all works by author Jen Hatmaker in October 2016 after she had endorsed same-sex marriage.
Lifeway's ministry on the subject of sexuality and gender expression sees non-heterosexual identities as sinful, which require church members to be "ready when homosexuality devastates." That is generally consistent with Article XVIII of the Baptist Faith & Message (the doctrinal statement of the Southern Baptist Convention, LifeWay's parent),[a] but it does not specifically address topics of gender expression such as transgender and non-binary gender identities.
In February 2006, Thom Rainer became the president and CEO of LifeWay after he had served as dean of the Billy Graham School of Evangelism of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He succeeded James T. Draper, Jr., of the Fort Worth metro area, who had headed LifeWay from 1991 to 2006.
On August 29, 2018, Rainer announced his retirement from LifeWay effective within one year or once his replacement had been identified, whichever occurred first. Rainer resigned earlier than anticipated, on February 28, 2019, and Brad Waggoner was named acting president.
- The congregationalist polity of the SBC causes it notto be binding on individual congregations.
For Further Reading
Lifeway Legacy: A Personal History of LifeWay Christian Resources and the Sunday School board of the Southern Baptist Convention; James T. Draper, John Perry
- "LifeWay Christian Resources to close brick-and-mortar stores but keep online store open". USA TODAY. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
- Vance, Laurence M. (2000). "The Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)". Dial-the-Truth Ministries. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
- "Lifeway Christian Resources 2019 Ministry Inquiries" (PDF). sbc.net.
- "LifeWay to discontinue World Changers projects amid COVID-19". Baptist Press. Retrieved May 23, 2020.
- Boyle, John. "Ridgecrest Conference Center up for sale, in part because of coronavirus crisis". Citizen Times. Retrieved May 23, 2020.
- "Dr. J.M. Frost, Noted Baptist Leader, Dies. End Comes To Prominent Nashville Divine After Long Illness. Founder of Baptist Sunday School Board. For Many Years Pastor In Southern States and Author of Numerous Works". The Tennessean. October 31, 1916. pp. 1, 12. Retrieved July 26, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.
- "LifeWay Christian Stores: 75 years of growth & service". Baptist Press. April 30, 2001. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
- Gros, Jeffrey (2004). "The Gospel Call to Common Witness". In George, Timothy (ed.). Pilgrims on the Sawdust Trail: Evangelical Ecumenism and the Quest for Christian Identity. Baker Academic. p. 116.
- "History - LifeWay". www.lifeway.com. Retrieved March 23, 2019.
- "LifeWay acquires publisher of small-group resources". Baptist Press. August 7, 2002. Retrieved February 27, 2022.
- Ward, Getahn (November 7, 2017). "New LifeWays bookstore, headquarters to open". The Tennessean. pp. A8–A9. Retrieved July 25, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.
- Hineman, Brinley. "Lifeway Christian Resources selling downtown Nashville headquarters". The Tennessean. Retrieved March 28, 2021.
- Pipes/LifeWay, Carol. "BREAKING: LifeWay to Close All Its Brick-and-Mortar Stores". Charisma News. Retrieved March 20, 2019.
- "Lifeway launches new branding, website enhancements". Lifeway Newsroom. January 21, 2021. Retrieved February 2, 2021.
- Menkus, Belden (October 1, 1961). "The Baptist Sunday School Board and Its Records". The American Archivist. 24 (4): 441–444. doi:10.17723/aarc.24.4.l2018t543524h3l6. ISSN 0360-9081.
- "Board's Bible Publishing Firm Moved to Nashville" (PDF). Baptist Press. October 30, 1979 – via Southern Baptist Historical Library & Archives.
- "Broadman, Holman merger forms Broadman & Holman Publishers" (PDF). Baptist Press. April 21, 1993 – via Southern Baptist Historical Library & Archives.
- "FAQs". B&H Publishing. Retrieved June 6, 2020.
- "Outreach Top 100". LifeWay Research. May 20, 2013. Retrieved June 6, 2020.
- "LifeWay Research". The Exchange | A Blog by Ed Stetzer. Retrieved June 6, 2020.
- World Changers History. Retrieved on 2009-01-03
- Worthington, Don. "Why wait for TV crews to help those in need?." Herald Online 01/27/2011: n. pag. Web. 28 Jan 2011. <http://www.heraldonline.com/2011/01/27/2786204/why-wait-for-tv-crews-to-help.html>.
- "World Changers – Equip your students to serve and share the gospel through student construction mission trips. Choose from over 50 cities to serve in throughout North America". worldchangers.lifeway.com. Retrieved June 11, 2020.
- "LifeWay Stops Selling Jen Hatmaker Books over LGBT Beliefs". October 27, 2016. Retrieved October 25, 2018.
- "A biblical perspective on sexuality". lifeway.com. Retrieved September 22, 2017.[dead link]
- "Ready, Session 5 (Ready When Homosexuallity Devastates): Additional Questions". blog.lifeway.com. Archived from the original on April 11, 2019. Retrieved September 22, 2017.
- http://www.sbc.net/bfm2000/bfm2000.asp Baptist Faith and Message
- "LifeWay Christian Resources". bbb.org.
- "LifeWay CEO Thom Rainer announces plans to retire". The Tennessean.
- "LifeWay's Brad Waggoner named acting president, CEO". Baptist Press. March 4, 2019. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
- "Big Downtown Employer Finds Its New CEO". www.bizjournals.com. June 24, 2019. Retrieved July 27, 2019.
- Pipes, Carol (June 21, 2019). "Ben Mandrell nominated as LifeWay president/CEO". Baptist Press. Retrieved June 22, 2021.