In 1891, Dr. James M. Frost, Lifeway's first president, had a desk, a corner of a newspaper office, and a little money he borrowed from his wife. More importantly, he had a vision for an organization that would help churches teach God's Word, develop leaders, and impact the culture.
He put these four things together to begin what is known today as Lifeway Christian Resources. The organization, formerly called the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, was established by the Southern Baptist Convention in 1891 after its annual meeting in Birmingham, Alabama.
The Convention gave Frost the approval he needed, but no funds were allocated to him. Undaunted, Frost put his vision and his work space in the office of Tennessee's Baptist newspaper, the Baptist and Reflector, to good use. Frost laid the groundwork for what would become one of the most influential entities in Southern Baptist life.
Lifeway's first assignment was the publication of Sunday School curriculum. More than a century later, Lifeway continues to provide Bible study curriculum, along with a wide range of Christian resources, events, and services.
Change in Name, But Not Identity
At the time of the organization's inception as a Southern Baptist entity in 1891, the official name was "The Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention." So it was recorded in the Convention minutes then, and remained for more than 100 years.
Over the years, however, the Sunday School Board expanded its range of resources. The name no longer encompassed the wide array of products and services the company offered. Nor did it reflect the broadening scope of the organization's mission.
Beginning as early as 1971, the Lifeway name was used in limited applications. Since then, it has been used both as an imprint for Lifeway resources and as a retail store identity in select markets.
The decision to change the name and adopt the Lifeway identity corporate-wide was not an easy one. The actual process itself took more than two years to complete. In 1998, the Sunday School Board officially changed its name to Lifeway Christian Resources.
The Lifeway name communicates that Jesus is at the very heart of all work and ministry.
The word "Lifeway" is rooted in Jesus' words in John 14:6: "I am the way, the truth, and the life." The three words — way, truth, and life — illustrate the many dimensions of the saving work of Christ.
"Way" speaks of the link between God and mankind.
"Truth" reminds us of the complete reliability of Jesus in all that He is and does. Truth is the commodity of our organization.
"Life" stresses far more than mere physical existence. The only life worthy of the name is that which Jesus brings, for He is life itself. Lifeway points to the essence of our Christian faith — the way to a full and meaningful life.
The Lifeway theme, "Biblical Solutions for Life," expresses the corporation's vision and purpose.
Headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, Lifeway is one of the leading providers of Christian resources, including Bibles, books, Bible studies, Christian music and movies, VBS, and church supplies, as well as camps and events for all ages. Lifeway is also the world's largest provider of Spanish Bibles. Its ministry reaches more than 160 countries around the world.