By Carol Pipes
NASHVILLE, TENN.—Lifeway Christian Resources President and CEO Thom S. Rainer outlined for Lifeway’s trustees a vision for the entity’s future that includes an organizational restructuring, leadership changes, and a probable relocation.
“In 2015 we are moving forward in one of the most strategic times of change Lifeway has ever known,” Rainer told trustees during Feb. 2-3 meetings in Nashville.
He explained that Lifeway historically has had three distinct market channels—wholesale (B&H Publishing), direct-to-church (Church Resources) and retail (Lifeway Stores).
“In today’s marketplace, those channels are blurred,” Rainer said. “Combining the two publishing channels allows Lifeway to have a stronger presence in the Christian publishing market.”
While Lifeway will continue to use the B&H imprint for its trade books, Rainer said it no longer made sense to have two publishers.
“The fusion of these two divisions will give us an incredible opportunity to lead with Lifeway,” Rainer said. “We believe this will make us a stronger entity and more appealing to prospective authors. We’ll have one Lifeway, and we’ll lead with Lifeway resources in our stores.”
Two vice presidents approved
The restructure includes creation of a new Organizational Development Division that will focus on Lifeway’s people strategies, culture development, and change management. Selma Wilson, former vice president of B&H, was approved as vice president of the new division. As Lifeway changes organizationally and prepares for a physical move, Rainer said it is important to have someone focused on people and organizational culture.
“We’ve never had someone solely dedicated to the people function at the executive leadership level,” Rainer explained. “Not only is this the right time, but this is the right person.”
Wilson told trustees she could think of “no greater honor than to represent the people of Lifeway. The resources, the people, the opportunity we have in front of us are like no other organization I know.”
Prior to leading B&H, Wilson served more than 20 years in various leadership positions at Lifeway including as director of the discipleship and family magazines, director of organizational performance, and as associate to the vice president of church resources. Additionally, Wilson, along with her husband, Rodney, served as executive editors of HomeLife magazine.
She earned her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and has completed continuing education courses, with emphases in organizational development and human resource management, at the University of Southern California and Columbia University.
She and Rodney have two adult daughters and three grandchildren.
Trustees also elected Cossy Pachares as vice president of Lifeway’s Retail Division. Pachares fills the role vacated by Tim Vineyard who retired in January.
Rainer tapped Pachares to help bring closer alignment between Lifeway’s 185 local stores and Lifeway’s resources. “We have the opportunity to lead with Lifeway and be most dependent on those things we truly believe in—the resources we publish,” Rainer said.
“We face a tremendous headwind in retail,” Rainer said. “But I am confident in the leadership of Cossy Pachares, because I have seen his work in Church Resources and B&H. He has been a turnaround agent.”
Pachares is a 14-year Lifeway employee, most recently serving as associate vice president of B&H, where he led daily operations, including publishing and line leaders and strategic planning.
“I’m humbled to be considered for this position,” Pachares said. “I love this ministry; it’s very personal to me. My hope is that my experience and background can be used under this new one Lifeway. I believe exciting opportunities are ahead for us.”
Pachares said his vision is that “while we will continue to carry a wide array of products, we will lead with Lifeway resources.”
Pachares holds a bachelors degree from Baylor University and is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). He and his wife, Julie, have three sons Joshua (15), Andrew (14), and Benjamin (9).
Administration authorized to sell property
Trustees also voted to authorize Lifeway’s administration “to sell the Nashville campus or a portion of the campus, for a price that is within or exceeds the property valuation range determined” by a leading commercial real estate broker. The motion also stipulated the sale “would allow Lifeway to build a new facility designed specifically for its ministries now and in the future.”
Rainer said multiple offers to buy the property are being closely reviewed, clarified and analyzed.
“We are in the middle of negotiations to get what is best for Lifeway’s future. We need to move forward in a way that is the best stewardship of what God has given to us.”
SBC president encourages, exhorts trustees
Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd thanked Lifeway’s trustees, for their willingness to serve and for their vision in a season of change. Floyd said he is thrilled with what he sees happening at Lifeway.
“You are in a moment when you can lead forth with vision, authority and passion and do something that will encourage the heart of this convention greatly,” Floyd said. “The future is extremely bright.”
Floyd called trustees to join with other Southern Baptists to pray for the next great awakening in the United States and to reach the world for Christ. “There has never been a great movement of God that hasn’t been preceded by the extraordinary prayer of God’s people,” said Floyd. “We need a mighty move of God in the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention.” He also encouraged trustees to attend the SBC annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio, in June.
“As we head toward the future, we have an incredible opportunity,” Rainer said. “God is working through us, and we will see ‘Biblical Solutions for Life’ realized more than we ever have.”
Carol Pipes is a writer for Lifeway Communications.