LifeWay Leadership


Dr. Thom S. Rainer

Thom S. Rainer

President and Chief Executive Officer

On Feb. 1, 2006, Dr. Thom S. Rainer became the ninth president of LifeWay Christian Resources.

Before coming to LifeWay, Rainer served as the dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

He is a 1977 graduate of the University of Alabama and earned his Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees at Southern Seminary. He served as pastor of churches in Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, and Indiana prior to joining Southern Seminary in 1994 as founding dean of the Billy Graham School.

He has served as a church consultant and church growth conference speaker for several years and is in frequent demand as a speaker today. Rainer is author of more than 23 books, including Simple Church, Transformational Church, and The Millennials.

Rainer was founder of the Rainer Group, one of the nation's leading church and denominational consultant organizations. He led the Rainer Group until assuming LifeWay's presidency.

He and his wife, Nellie Jo, have three grown sons: Sam, Art, and Jess, who are married to Erin, Sarah, and Rachel, respectively.

For more information visit Connect with Thom Rainer on Twitter

Dr. Brad Waggoner

Brad Waggoner

Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

As executive vice president and COO, Brad Waggoner oversees LifeWay's daily operations and works directly with President and CEO Thom S. Rainer in the strategic leadership of the organization. His role includes supervising all divisional vice presidents, developing policies and goals in line with the president's larger objectives, and assisting the president in the development of strategic plans and annual budgets.

Waggoner came to LifeWay in 2006 as the inaugural director of LifeWay Research. Previously he served as dean of the School of Leadership & Church Ministry at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He joined Southern's teaching faculty in 1999 and assumed the position of dean in 2001. During his tenure as dean, Waggoner developed and taught several classes on leadership and discipleship in addition to his administrative responsibilities.

Waggoner has served on staff at three Southern Baptist churches in Texas, Ohio, and Kentucky.

He received a Master of Religious Education degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas; a Master of Arts from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Chicago; and a Ph.D. from Southwestern.

Waggoner is the author of The Shape of Faith to Come and numerous other publications. He and his wife, Patti, have two sons, Brandt (daughter-in-law Jill and grandsons Judson and John Martin) and Blake.

Tim Hill

Tim Hill

Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer

Tim Hill is the senior vice president of LifeWay's technology division and chief information officer, leading the corporation's extensive technology infrastructure including voice and data systems and business systems for LifeWay Christian Stores.

Hill came to LifeWay in 2013 with a strong record of leading implementation of large-scale technology solutions and superb IT services in large national and international corporations with multi-million dollar budgets and thousands of employees.

He holds a masters certificate from George Washington University and a bachelor's degree in management information systems from the University of Iowa.

Hill has served in various leadership positions in their local church. He and his wife, Beth, have two grown children, Sarah and David. They enjoy traveling, mountain biking, and hiking.

Connia Nelson

Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer

Connia Nelson is a business and customer focused corporate leader who has held a variety of leadership roles, from engaging frontline employees in a call center environment, to senior leadership responsibilities of end-to-end strategic Human Resource initiatives.

In her current role at LifeWay as the chief human resources officer, Nelson is a transformational HR business leader and change agent, driving people strategy and key business objectives to deliver on cultural values and the overall mission. 

Prior to joining LifeWay in 2016, Nelson worked for Verizon as senior vice president of Human Resources. Throughout her career, Nelson consistently created talent management strategies to acquire and retain top talent, increase the employer brand, optimize training-to-competency cycle time, enhance leadership diversity, deliver total rewards, accelerate employee engagement, and build a strong succession plan.

She has served in various roles in the local church including music, children, teen, and women’s ministries. She is currently a women’s community group leader at Rolling Hills Community Church. 

Nelson holds a bachelor’s degree from Indiana State University and a master’s degree in organization management from Dallas Baptist University. She and her husband, Darrell, have one daughter Adriel, who is married to Leroy, and two grandchildren.

Joe Walker

Joe Walker

Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Joe Walker is senior vice president and chief financial officer of LifeWay. Prior to serving in this role, Walker served as corporate controller for 12 years. He has held various financial positions at LifeWay since 1986. As senior vice president, he gives oversight to several shared services within LifeWay, including distribution services, legal services, investment services, facility management services, and the corporate finance department.

Walker has served in various roles at his church, First Baptist Church, Hendersonville, Tennessee, including deacon, Sunday school teacher, and member of the finance committee.

Walker is a CPA and holds a bachelor’s degree with a major in accounting from the University of Tennessee, Martin. He lives in Hendersonville, Tennessee, with his wife, Lisa, and has two grown children who are both married. He enjoys playing golf and tennis with friends and spending time with his family, especially his granddaughter, Kinsley.