The year LifeWay Christian Resources was formed, Thomas Edison filed a patent for a motion picture device, the game of basketball was invented and Arthur Conan Doyle penned his first Sherlock Holmes novel.
That year was 1891, when LifeWay — then called the Sunday School Board — launched with the mission of creating Sunday School resources for churches.
While much has changed in the world over the past 128 years, LifeWay’s mission of resourcing the church has stayed constant. What has changed over the years for the not-for-profit organization is the way it distributes and supports its resources.
As LifeWay engages a changing marketplace in 2019, here are some ways the ministry is newly positioning itself to serve churches and individuals scattered across the globe.
Leveraging online relationships
One of the more notable changes LifeWay is currently experiencing is the closing of its chain of brick-and-mortar stores — a move facilitated by many shoppers migrating from traditional storefronts to digital retail experiences.
Ben Mandrell, LifeWay’s president and CEO, says the organization is leveraging this digital shift by providing multiple avenues for churches and individuals to engage with LifeWay online.
“LifeWay’s reach and impact is not waning with the closure of brick-and-mortar stores,” Mandrell said. “In a typical month, traffic to LifeWay websites was more than four times larger than the normal monthly traffic to physical LifeWay Stores.”
This influx of online traffic has contributed in part to LifeWay’s year-over-year growth in its publishing and events ministry. Direct channels of sales, such as through the company’s flagship website, LifeWay.com, and Customer Service Center posted a 6.9% gain over the previous year.
New brick-and-mortar options
Despite closing its chain of bookstores, LifeWay is continuing to find ways of selling Bibles, books and Bible studies to people who want to touch and feel them first.
To bridge the gap of physical storefronts where customers can shop for LifeWay products, the organization recently announced an Authorized Dealership program that allows independent Christians bookstores to sell LifeWay-branded Bible studies.
Already, more than 400 independent Christian retailers in 45 states have become authorized LifeWay dealers. This move provides customers more touch points for LifeWay products than were previously available through LifeWay Stores alone.
But LifeWay is partnering with more than just independent bookstores. LifeWay also sells select resources through established chains such as Walmart, Books-a-Million and Mardel Stores owned by Hobby Lobby.
While customers can expect to see familiar LifeWay products on new shelves around the country, they can also now access LifeWay’s resources through popular digital retailers such as Amazon and Christian Book Distributors.
In addition to these distribution avenues, LifeWay will also continue to provide pop-up stores at conferences and events.
Click here to read more.
Source: Baptist Press