Lifeway Christian Resources is moving away from a local mindset and toward a national mindset, said Ben Mandrell, president and CEO of Lifeway.
“Lifeway is no longer a Nashville company. We are expanding the boundaries beyond the southeast portion of the U.S. We have a vision for serving churches everywhere,” he said in his report to the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting on June 15 in Anaheim, California.
Within a year of Mandrell’s arrival at Lifeway in 2019, the company sold its building in downtown Nashville.
Turning a new leaf
“That decision quickly replenished our cash reserve and our pension fund,” he said. “In addition it sent a clear signal to our team that a new paradigm of ministry had begun.”
That paradigm was creating a new kind of resource — the kind that made sense for churches to use outside the Bible Belt. Mandrell said when he was a pastor in west Tennessee, Lifeway’s curriculum “worked wonderfully” for his church, but when he moved to plant a church in Denver, a place where many people didn’t know the basic bones of the Bible, the curriculum felt awkward there.
“Today I’m happy to announce that this time next year we hope to be ready to roll out a new line of curriculum, a next-gen curriculum for kids and students informed, designed and written in partnership with church leaders outside the South,” Mandrell said.
That vision is reflected in Lifeway’s current staffing, too. By the year 2027, Lifeway’s team will be 50 percent residential and 50 percent distributed throughout the world.
“Without requiring residency in the South, we are drawing writers and editors and graphic designers and software developers from all over the country and world,” Mandrell said. “They are staying in their locations and in their local churches, which is what we want so our products begin to feel more versatile.”
The new curriculum will be a resource that “churches in California and Oregon and Colorado and Minnesota and Maine are going to love,” Mandrell said. “Historically Lifeway has served the teaching-oriented churches well, but this new line of curriculum is designed to meet the needs of the reaching-oriented churches.”
Across the world
He told messengers that Lifeway is also on the move internationally. In 2021, they released a study Bible in the Telugu language, which is spoken by 90 million people in India.
“When it was published in 2021, pastors lined up by the thousands to get their first copy,” Mandrell said, telling the story of one who wept because of the opportunity this would open for his people to learn about the gospel.
“In order to pull off this project, pastors and church leaders and scholars from India were enlisted, forming a dream team that would write and edit and curate the study notes,” Mandrell said.
Everywhere they’ve put the Telugu study Bible, it has sold out. And Lifeway is now on track to begin producing similar Bibles for other language groups in India.
Mandrell asked Southern Baptists to pray for God to bring them talented global authors, noting that Lifeway was “moving to a model of raising up indigenous authors.”
“If our mission as Southern Baptists is to disciple every tongue, then we must build resources that roll off the pens of the people that live there,” he said.
View photos from this business session of the Annual Meeting here.
To see more photos from the 2022 Southern Baptist Convention in Anaheim, click here.
For more stories from the 2022 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting, visit thebaptistpaper.org/sbc2022.