2018 brings memorable milestones for LifeWay
In August LifeWay trustees began the search for a successor to President and CEO Thom S. Rainer, who announced his retirement during the semiannual trustee meeting.
Rainer told trustees he had no doubts it was the right time and season to pass the baton of leadership.
"My life has been blessed immeasurably by the ministry and the people of LifeWay," Rainer said. "I accepted this position with humility and gratitude, and I leave it with humility and gratitude."
Also during 2018:
LifeWay Women celebrated the 20th anniversary of Living Proof Live with Beth Moore. Since launching Living Proof Live in partnership with LifeWay Christian Resources in 1998, Moore has spoken at more than 200 events in all 50 states and in Canada. More than a million women have attended events and more than 2 million women have been reached including simulcasts.
LifeWay's FUGE camps marked its 40th summer of ministry to students. Since 1979, LifeWay's FUGE Camps have seen God work in the lives of more than 1.7 million students and adults across the nation. This summer more than 55,000 students and adults attended a FUGE Camp.
LifeWay's Black Church Leadership and Family Conference, described as the largest gathering of African Americans in the Southern Baptist Convention, celebrated its 25th anniversary at Ridgecrest Conference Center.
Earlier this year, LifeWay was recognized by Forbes magazine as one of the top 500 midsize employers in the U.S. and as one of the best employers for women. In November, Newsweek magazine named LifeWay one of the best companies in the nation for customer service.
At the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting in Dallas, LifeWay highlighted its commitment to serve churches around the world.
As pubic shootings continued to make headlines, LifeWay provided free security training through its Ministry Grid platform. More than 3,000 people have downloaded the free training since February.
The Gospel Project launched new discipleship tools to help make it easier for families and small groups to engage in discussion about Scripture with a clear understanding of how each text fits into the storyline of Scripture.
LifeWay Global launched a new Spanish-language website, BibliasHolman.com, and the "Holman Reference Bibles Program" to help Bible readers customize a Spanish Bible that best meets their needs.
The LifeWay Kids Ministry team released "What is a Christian?" to help parents walk kids through questions about faith and what it means to be a follower of Jesus. They also produced a new Vacation Bible School program called "Go & Tell Kids" to serve as a gospel presentation tool on the mission field.
In August, LifeWay Worship celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the 2008 Baptist Hymnal and the launch of LifeWayWorship.com. The recordings for the digital hymnal was the largest recording project in the history of Nashville, with more than 1,000 songs recorded.
LifeWay Christian Stores teamed up with Proverbs 31 Ministries and Passion to provide store-within-a-store experiences for customers. The mini-stores feature books, CDs, Bible studies, gifts and apparel tied to the ministries.
In his latest book, "Scrappy Church: God's Not Done Yet," Rainer calls on churches to bring a similar mentality to revitalization -- something he believes is attainable if churches are willing to roll up their sleeves and get a little scrappy. Rainer also released "Becoming a Welcoming Church," which offers tips on church hospitality.
B&H Publishing released "Gay Girl, Good God" by Jackie Hill Perry, "The Storm-Tossed Family" by Russell Moore and "Worship Essentials" by Mike Harland, among others. Moore's book on the family received the Book of the Year award from Christianity Today. And B&H Español was named Spanish Publisher of the Year by the Spanish Evangelical Publishers Association.
LifeWay Research surveyed thousands of pastors, Christians and Americans this year on a wide range of topics. Among the studies released by LifeWay Research in 2018:
-- Americans have a mix of orthodox belief, shifting opinion
In this third in a series of surveys of American adults examining their theological beliefs, LifeWay Research found a majority of Americans believe religious belief is more personal opinion than objective truth.
In the wake of several high-profile accusations of sexual misconduct among clergy,
LifeWay Research released findings of a study on pastors' views on #MeToo and sexual and domestic violence in churches.
-- Majority of churchgoers still abstain from alcohol
Most churchgoers say the Bible teaches against drunkenness. But that doesn't stop about 4 in 10 from taking a drink now and then.
-- Churchgoers sticking around for theology, not music
Most churchgoers will put up with a change in music style or a different preacher, the study showed, but don't mess with a church's beliefs or there may be an exodus.
-- Diversity & churches: Progress being made, study says
Eighty-one percent of Protestant pastors say their congregation is predominantly made up of one racial or ethnic group. That's down from 86 percent four years ago, according to this latest study from LifeWay Research.