Relaying a "progress report" of LifeWay's ministry and business components, Rainer noted that the organizational changes at the executive level approved by trustees last September "have gone exceptionally well."
"From my perspective, the new leadership structure has allowed the team to function in ways and at different levels than the first five years of my tenure," Rainer said. "From day one, LifeWay's executive team has been healthy, has thrived as a result of the change and is taking LifeWay into a bright future."
LifeWay is positioned well to confront the "challenges in the turbulent economic waters we find ourselves in," Rainer told trustees. "While we continue to seek growth in 'red oceans,' we are also moving into several new ministry opportunities often called 'blue oceans.'"
Longstanding industries such as publishing and retail present significant challenges for growth that require patience, ingenuity and vision from LifeWay's leadership, he noted.
"Against the challenges, LifeWay's opportunities are equally apparent," said Rainer, mentioning several key partnerships, events, initiatives and products that will take LifeWay into the future, including:
-- Transformational Church, which continues to have momentum and growth as a key ministry tool for churches and other organizations (www.transformationalchurch.net).
-- A forthcoming (currently unnamed) small group curriculum that Rainer said will be "theologically robust, Christ-centered, mission-driven and focused on the grand narrative of Scripture."
-- "Secret Church" simulcasts with David Platt, senior pastor of the Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala. (www2.lifeway.com/secretchurch/?CID=RDR-SecretChurch).
-- LifeWay Women, which continues to thrive as a result of the ministry impact and conferences of Beth Moore, Kaye Arthur and Priscilla Shirer.
-- Sherwood Pictures and "Courageous," an upcoming film about fatherhood and faith, to be released in September. LifeWay will provide resources for individuals and churches that will accompany the film.
-- Partnership opportunities between LifeWay and the North American Mission Board to maximize ministry potential for both entities.
"LifeWay touches millions of lives with the Gospel of Jesus Christ," Rainer said. "For this reason I cannot think of a better vision for good times and bad. Providing biblical resources for life transformation is one of the most rewarding opportunities in which I can be involved."
Rainer also expressed gratitude for the support and prayers he and his family have received after the news of the death of his grandson, William Thomas Rainer. "I never thought I'd see my own son suffer such things," he said. "But I'm seeing these events turn out to be a tremendous testimony of God's grace and provision."
Micah Carter is director of communications and associate to the vice president of the executive communications and relations division of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.
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