GREENSBORO, N.C. – The Word of God. The local church. Relevance. Partnerships. LifeWay Christian Resources President and CEO Thom Rainer emphasized each point to messengers to the 2006 Southern Baptist Convention in Greensboro, N.C., during LifeWay’s report.
By Chris Turner
LifeWay Christian Resources
GREENSBORO, N.C. – The Word of God. The local
church. Relevance. Partnerships. LifeWay Christian Resources President
and CEO Thom Rainer emphasized each point to messengers to the 2006
Southern Baptist Convention in Greensboro, N.C., during LifeWay’s
Rainer stressed that LifeWay “does not live in a
vacuum,” acknowledging the interconnectedness between the resource
provider, the local church, state conventions and other SBC entities.
“We aim to maintain our focus,” he said.
“Unfortunately sometimes as Southern Baptists we lose our focus on
what’s most important. We are people of the Book, people of missions
and people of evangelism. We must never lose our focus on any of these
but especially reaching people for Christ.”
Rainer said LifeWay intends to focus on a few
priorities to make sure the organization is most effective in areas
deemed most important.
The first of those priorities is the Bible. Rainer
told messengers he wanted to reaffirm LifeWay’s commitment to biblical
inerrancy, with that being the foundation to the various resources the
Rainer referenced the launch of B&H Academic and
LifeWay’s commitment to distributing the Bible internationally through
Holman Bible Outreach International. He reiterated LifeWay’s commitment
to the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message as a guideline for serving
With the 10th anniversary of FAITH evangelism
strategy approaching in 2008, Rainer said there will be a greater focus
on evangelism in all the resources LifeWay produces.
“We are going to ramp it up,” he said. “Whether
you’re looking at FAITH material, Sunday school literature, VBS
material or something else, you’ll see more evangelistic opportunities
than you can count. You can’t disciple people who aren’t Christians so
we intend to do everything we can to help people and churches do
By making the local church his second point, Rainer
said that building relationships with churches will be a priority,
especially in helping churches strengthen their Sunday schools.
Rainer said that in a recent LifeWay survey of 900
churches, 84 percent of respondents indicated Sunday school is the most
prominent adult ministry in the church.
“Sunday school is not dead, folks. Sunday school is
back,” he said, and indicated that LifeWay would renew its commitment
to FAITH as a strategy to help churches strengthen their evangelism
efforts through Sunday school.
Rainer said that LifeWay Research will be a key
component to LifeWay seeking to be relevant both in its ministry and
helping churches be relevant in theirs. He introduced Brad Waggoner,
newly named director of LifeWay Research and former dean at The
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. LifeWay
Research will share much information with churches and others, but will
also use the information to create cutting-edge resources, Rainer said.
Finally, Rainer said that even though LifeWay does
not receive Cooperative Program money – and in fact contributes
considerable funds to CP, state conventions, mission organizations and
local associations – LifeWay will work harder to “work together for the
Kingdom of God.” Rainer introduced Tom Hellams, vice president and
executive associate to the president, who will assist Rainer by also
networking with state convention leadership across the denomination.
“It is easy to get distracted,” Rainer said. “There
is evidence of that in a recent survey that revealed 53 percent of
pastors have not shared their faith in the past six months.
“At LifeWay, we will focus on the Bible as the
inerrant Word of God, on evangelism as a priority and the local church
as having critical importance in Kingdom work, on becoming relevant
without compromising biblical standards and on working with key
partners with a Kingdom focus. If we do these things, then LifeWay and
her employees will have made a difference and then, and only then, will
our work not be in vain.”