Nashville-based LifeWay Christian Resources announced Friday that Colorado Pastor Ben Mandrell has been selected as the 10th president and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention’s publishing arm.
“LifeWay Christian Resources trustees unanimously elected Ben Mandrell as the organization’s 10th president today during a special-called meeting in Atlanta,” the organization announced via Twitter.
The announcement drew congratulations from a number of current and former Southern Baptist leaders, including LifeWay's former president and CEO Thom Rainer who praised Mandrell’s selection.
At a press conference cited by the Tennessean Friday, Mandrell, 42, who is still listed as the lead pastor of Storyline Church in Arvada, said he believes the Christian publishing giant can remain viable in a digital environment after a recent decision to close its brick-and-mortar stores as more people shop online.
"We do believe that it's not only possible, but it's going to be something that's going to be beneficial to us as we begin to seek out all of those outlets," Mandrell said. "We think that what LifeWay does changes people's lives."
He also thanked his supporters and promised to love the team of 4,000 LifeWay employees “ferociously.”
“Truly humbled. Thanks to all for so many kind words and loving support the past week. Lynley and I will love the @LifeWay team ferociously. What an incredibly talented army of creatives,” he tweeted.
He asked for prayers for his church as they search for his replacement.
“As God calls us to @LifeWay please join me in fervent prayer for @StorylineArvada as they begin searching for the next Lead Pastor. An INCREDIBLE church poised for multiplication and city-wide influence,” he wrote.
It took 10 months before a presidential search committee settled on Mandrell as the next LifeWay leader. Mandrell launched his church in February 2015 with 250 people and it now has a weekly attendance of 1,600.
The Tampico, Ilinois, native graduated from Anderson University in Indiana in 1998. He studied at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, where he earned a Master of Divinity degree as well as at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, where he earned a Doctor of Ministry degree, according to Lifeway.
He and his wife, Lynley, have been married since 2001 and they have four children — Ava, Max, Miles and Jack.
Jimmy Scroggins, trustee chairman, explained that Mandrell has the ability to reach people across generations.
"He's been out there a long time and leading in large situations, high-profile situations," Scroggins said. "He has that demonstrated ability to connect with younger generations."