Open main menu

LifeWay Christian Resources, based in Nashville, Tennessee, is the publishing division of the Southern Baptist Convention and church business services provider. Until 2019, it was best known for its retail arm, LifeWay Christian Stores, which was one of the two major American retailers of Christian books and products (the other being Mardel, owned by descendants of David Green, founder of Hobby Lobby). Lifeway announced the closure of all its retail stores on Mar. 20, 2019.[2]

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
1 LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, Tennessee
Number of locations
170 stores (2018)[1]
Key people
Thom S. Rainer, former President and CEO (2005-2019)
Number of employees
ParentSouthern Baptist Convention
DivisionsChurch Resources, LifeWay Christian Stores, B&H Publishing Group, Technology, Finance and Business Services, LifeWay Research and Insights



In 1891, James Marion Frost, a 43-year-old pastor, founded the Baptist Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.[3] In 1925, the Board began operating retail bookstores under the name "Baptist Book Store".[4]

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.[5]

In 2017 LCR staff moved out of the Draper Tower and the Sullivan Tower into new headquarters in the Capitol View area.[6]

In 2019 Lifeway announced that it will be closing all of its 170 stores and will shift its focus to its e-commerce business.[7]

Sales policyEdit

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.[8]

LifeWay's ministry on the subject of sexuality and gender expression categorizes non-normative identities as sinful lifestyles,[9] the threat of which requires church members be "ready when homosexuality devastates."[10] This is generally consistent with Article XVIII of the Baptist Faith & Message (the doctrinal statement of the Southern Baptist Convention, LifeWay's parent[11]), though the Article does not specifically address such gender expression issues as transgender or gender reassignment.[12]


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.[13]

On August 29, 2018, Rainer announced his retirement from LifeWay which originally would have become effective within one year or once his replacement has been identified—whichever occurred first.[14]

Rainer resigned earlier than anticipated on Feb. 28, 2019.[15]


  1. ^ "About LifeWay". Retrieved March 23, 2019.
  2. ^ "LifeWay Christian Resources to close brick-and-mortar stores but keep online store open". USA TODAY. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  3. ^ "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
  4. ^ "LifeWay Christian Stores: 75 years of growth & service". Baptist Press. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  5. ^ "History - LifeWay". Retrieved March 23, 2019.
  6. ^ Ward, Getahn (November 7, 2017). "New LifeWays bookstore, headquarters to open". The Tennessean. pp. A8–A9. Retrieved July 25, 2018 – via
  7. ^ Pipes/LifeWay, Carol. "BREAKING: LifeWay to Close All Its Brick-and-Mortar Stores". Charisma News. Retrieved March 20, 2019.
  8. ^ "LifeWay Stops Selling Jen Hatmaker Books over LGBT Beliefs". Retrieved October 25, 2018.
  9. ^ "A biblical perspective on sexuality". Retrieved September 22, 2017.
  10. ^ "Ready, Session 5 (Ready When Homosexuallity Devastates): Additional Questions". Retrieved September 22, 2017.
  11. ^ However, as the SBC is organized along the lines of congregational polity, the statement is not binding on individual congregations.
  12. ^ Baptist Faith and Message
  13. ^ "LifeWay Christian Resources".
  14. ^ "LifeWay CEO Thom Rainer announces plans to retire". The Tennessean.
  15. ^ "LifeWay's Brad Waggoner named acting president, CEO". Baptist Press. Retrieved May 7, 2019.

External linksEdit

Official website