LifeWay Christian Resources

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LifeWay Christian Resources
Religious non-profit organization
IndustryPublishing, retail
Incorporated on October 5, 1983 as the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
FounderJames Marion Frost
Headquarters1 LifeWay Plaza, ,
Key people
Number of employees
ParentSouthern Baptist Convention
DivisionsFive; see article

LifeWay Christian Resources, based in Nashville, Tennessee, is the publishing division of the Southern Baptist Convention and provider of church business services. Until the end of their physical retail presence in 2019[1] 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 funded and published the Holman Christian Standard Bible[2] through their imprint Holman Bible Publishers, now the H in B&H Publishing Group, through which LifeWay currently publishes the major revision of the HCSB—the Christian Standard Bible—along with individual authors' work. B&H Publishing Group is part of LifeWay Resources, the biggest of LifeWay Christian Resources' five divisions. The other four are: LifeWay Insights (corporate communications)—includes LifeWay Research (surveys, church assessments); Information Technology (development and distribution of digital resources, tech support); Finance and Business Services (accounting, investments); and Organizational Development (people strategies, culture development)—includes HR team.[3]


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.[4] In 1925, the Board began operating retail bookstores under the name "Baptist Book Store".[5] According to Jeffrey Gros, the Sunday School Board was "one of the principal sources of literacy across the South."[6]

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). Over a two-year period from 1996-1998 the Board re-branded its stores under the LifeWay banner and officially changed its name.[7]

In 2017 LifeWay staff moved out of the Draper Tower and the Sullivan Tower into new headquarters in the Capitol View (Nashville) area.[8]

In January 2019 LifeWay announced it would cut staff and close some of its 170 stores, however 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.[9][1]

Sales policy[edit]

Although LifeWay sells products created by non-SBC persons and entities, generally speaking its products 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. As an example, in October 2016 it pulled all works by author Jen Hatmaker after she endorsed same-sex marriage.[10]

LifeWay's ministry on the subject of sexuality and gender expression categorizes non-normative identities as sinful lifestyles,[11] the threat of which requires church members be "ready when homosexuality devastates."[12] This is generally consistent with Article XVIII of the Baptist Faith & Message (the doctrinal statement of the Southern Baptist Convention, LifeWay's parent[a]), though it does not specifically address gender expression topics such as transgender or non-binary genders.[13]


In February 2006, Thom Rainer became the president and CEO of LifeWay after having 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.[14]

On August 29, 2018, Rainer announced his retirement from LifeWay effective within one year or once his replacement had been identified—whichever occurred first.[15] Rainer resigned earlier than anticipated on February 28, 2019, and Brad Waggoner was named acting president.[16]

As of July 2019 the CEO is the recently hired Ben Mandrell.[17]


  1. ^ due to the congregationalist polity of the SBC this is not binding on individual congregations.
  1. ^ a b "LifeWay Christian Resources to close brick-and-mortar stores but keep online store open". USA TODAY. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  2. ^ Vance, Laurence M. (2000). "The Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)". Dial-the-Truth Ministries. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  3. ^ "About LifeWay". Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  4. ^ "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
  5. ^ "LifeWay Christian Stores: 75 years of growth & service". Baptist Press. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ "History - LifeWay". Retrieved March 23, 2019.
  8. ^ Ward, Getahn (November 7, 2017). "New LifeWays bookstore, headquarters to open". The Tennessean. pp. A8–A9. Retrieved July 25, 2018 – via
  9. ^ Pipes/LifeWay, Carol. "BREAKING: LifeWay to Close All Its Brick-and-Mortar Stores". Charisma News. Retrieved March 20, 2019.
  10. ^ "LifeWay Stops Selling Jen Hatmaker Books over LGBT Beliefs". Retrieved October 25, 2018.
  11. ^ "A biblical perspective on sexuality". Retrieved September 22, 2017.
  12. ^ "Ready, Session 5 (Ready When Homosexuallity Devastates): Additional Questions". Retrieved September 22, 2017.
  13. ^ Baptist Faith and Message
  14. ^ "LifeWay Christian Resources".
  15. ^ "LifeWay CEO Thom Rainer announces plans to retire". The Tennessean.
  16. ^ "LifeWay's Brad Waggoner named acting president, CEO". Baptist Press. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  17. ^ "Big Downtown Employer Finds Its New CEO". June 24, 2019. Retrieved July 27, 2019.

External links[edit]