LifeWay put itself in the news by announcing the closure of all of its stores..so have some more attention, brethren and sistren:
Future Plans — The future of LifeWay Worship Resources is more exciting than ever. In 2017, we partnered with the LifeWay Christian Stores Division to better coordinate the development and promotion of church supplies, music, and DVDs in our stores. This partnership has already begun to blossom and will provide more access to biblically sound resources for church and individual customers in LifeWay Christian Stores. We are currently experimenting with some exciting new in-store music events. Look for more of these to come in 2018 and beyond.
The above from the 2018 SBC Annual, LifeWay report. Apparently “2018 and beyond” doesn’t go beyond 2019.
LifeWay is not funded by Cooperative Program dollars. They usually give a token gift to the CP, in fact. Why consume CP dollars when you can just raise literature prices charged to churches? Someone can chastise me if LW lit prices are lower than other options for SBC churches. I have no gripe with the various curricula.
LifeWay is able to rob Peter to pay Paul and may the distinguished and revered apostles forgive me. That is, it can and has used profitable sales to carry unprofitable products. SBCers don’t know which is which. I use “rob” in a non-Ten Commandment manner here. I believe Thom Ranier said at the beginning of his tenure something about many of the most popular LifeWay products being unprofitable. If they want to puff one of the SBC celebs, they can find the funds to do so.
LifeWay does some useful things that aren’t marketable products for which revenues are generated. Someone can inform me if LifeWay Research sells its research to news outlets and such. I don’t think so.
LifeWay Pastors hosts approximately 15 regional Pastor Date Nights and Pastor Roundtables throughout North America each year, currently averaging 150 in attendance. Ummm, about a thousand of the 100k or so SBC pastors and wives. Bet this event is subsidized but, have it at a steakhouse and I’ll come with my wife on a date.
Rainer Social Media — LifeWay president and CEO Thom S. Rainer’s social media presence has developed into an effective sounding board for pastors across the country. The Rainer on Leadership podcast is reaching 1.3 million listeners a year.
Well, Ranier is gone. I presume his social media lives and he owns it? Not complaining, just observing. I use his stuff occasionally, mainly data.
LifeWay is at around half a billion dollars in sales. They are a big dog in Christian publishing. Sales were down in the last annual report. It’s a tough environment. I hear stuff tossed around about how profitable this or that part of LifeWay’s business is but I’ve never seen a breakdown by divisions. Someone can inform me about whether or not LifeWay’s for-profit divisions have public records. I’m busy watching grass grow. I doubt many of us have seen anything that gives the total picture on LifeWay’s activities. I’m not positing anything nefarious, just commenting. Their business is more complex than any SBC entity.
LifeWay places a value on goodwill in the form of “customer relationships.” The latest amount is $2,658,000. It’s an accounting deal. I have no idea how they arrive at such a figure. And, could you just send me a check for my goodwill? I think I’m at around $100,000 in retirement.
LifeWay has a defined benefit pension fund for eligible employees. Financial statements show over $200m of their projected obligation of $541,202,000 is unfunded. Not to worry. I gather that the ratios are manageable and within standards of prudency. I don’t know if they still provide a defined benefit pension to employees. Most businesses have moved away from this, I think. Whether or not this figured into the store closings, I have no idea. I didn’t even look to see if they provide any health care payment or subsidy for retirees.
Some LifeWay employees can take advantage of a matching 401(k) contribution, up to 6% of the employee’s annual income. Those who are eligible ought to do so.
Am I trying to raise issues about LifeWay? Nope. All this is public information. If the day passed when Southern Baptists can’t ask question or make comments on our entities, then I missed it. I’m still suspicious of a church that doesn’t use LifeWay literature. I don’t rue LifeWay closing their brick-and-mortar stores; haven’t been in one in years. LifeWay’s work is incredibly varied, sprawling, and complex. Most of us can merely react to stuff we know about, like that they will lock the doors on their stores this year, or that Ridgecrest is a nice place and I’m glad they have a discount for pastors.
And the SEC is looking pretty good in the NCAA tournament.