In 1891, Dr. J. M. Frost had a desk, a corner of a newspaper office, and a little money he borrowed from his wife. More importantly, he had a blessing.
He put these four things together to begin what is known today as Lifeway Christian Resources. The organization, formerly called the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, was established by the Southern Baptist Convention in 1891 after its meeting in Birmingham, Alabama.
The vote gave Frost the approval he needed, but no funds were allocated to him. Undaunted, Frost put his vision and his work space in the office of Tennessee’s Baptist newspaper – the Baptist and Reflector – to good use. Frost laid the groundwork for what would become one of the most influential entities in Southern Baptist life.
LifeWay’s first assignment was the publication of Sunday school literature. More than a century later, Lifeway continues to provide that service, along with 10 other ministry assignments.
- Church ministries
- Ministries to college and university students
- Christian schools and home school ministries
- Ministries to men and women
- Operation of conference centers and camps
- Publication of books and Bibles
- Operation of Lifeway Christian Stores
- Stewardship education
- Church architecture consultation and services
- Capital fund raising
Change in name, but not identity
At the time of the organization’s inception as a Southern Baptist agency in 1891, the name was officially “The Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.” So it was recorded in the Convention minutes then, and remained for more than 100 years.
Over the years, however, The Sunday School Board expanded its range of resources. The name no longer encompassed the wide array of products and services that the company offered. Nor did it reflect the broadening scope of the organization’s mission.
Beginning as early as 1971, the Lifeway name was used in limited applications. Since then, it has been used both as an imprint for Lifeway resources and as a retail store identity in select markets.
The decision to change names and adopt the Lifeway identity corporate-wide was not an easy one. The actual process itself took more than two years to complete.
The Lifeway name implies that Jesus is at the very heart of everything that’s done.
The Lifeway logo
The Lifeway logo is a simple, crisp, dynamic design that clearly reflects the organization’s vision: As God works through us, we will help individuals and churches by providing biblical solutions for life.
The word “LifeWay” is rooted in Jesus’ words in John 14:6: “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” The three words — Way, Truth, and Life — illustrate the many dimensions of the saving work of Christ.
- “Way” speaks of the link between God and mankind.
- “Truth” reminds us of the complete reliability of Jesus in all that He is and does. Truth is the commodity of our organization.
- And “Life” stresses far more than mere physical existence. The only life worthy of the name is that which Jesus brings, for He is Life itself. Lifeway points to the essence of our Christian faith-The Way to a full and meaningful life.
- The Lifeway slogan, “Biblical Solutions for Life,” expresses the corporation’s vision and purpose. Two separate studies of Southern Baptist ministers and laity indicated that this phrase clearly identifies the ministry of Lifeway.
The resources Lifeway’s divisions provide include products, services, ministries, and relationships. “Of the Southern Baptist Convention” clearly states Lifeway’s relationship to the denomination and the churches that are served.
Today, Lifeway Christian Resources is housed in a facility that encompasses more than one million square feet of office space in downtown Nashville, Tennessee.
Along with the home office, Lifeway also operates a conference center in Ridgecrest, North Carolina.
At the Nashville location, Lifeway uses the Church Leadership Training Center for a variety of conferences.
The corporation also operates 160 Lifeway Christian Stores throughout the country.
LifeWay’s workforce includes more than 2,000 full-time and regular part-time employees, nearly 1,500 of whom work in Nashville.
by Lifeway Staff
|I.J. Van Ness
|James L. Sullivan
|Grady C. Cothen
|James T. Draper Jr.
|Thom S. Rainer