LifeWay announces temporary budget cuts, staff reductions in response to coronavirus

The corporate headquarters of LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, Tennessee.
The corporate headquarters of LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, Tennessee. | Courtesy LifeWay

Prominent Christian publishing company LifeWay Christian Resources will undergo freezes on the budget and reductions in staff due to the economic impact of the coronavirus.

The Nashville, Tennessee-based company announced Wednesday that they were going to enact temporary budget cuts beginning on Friday, expecting the measures to cut $25-$30 million of recurring expenses from their operating budget.

LifeWay will also reduce their staff, halt all new hiring, and suspend salary raises, with members of their leadership team giving up one month’s salary starting next month.

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LifeWay CEO Ben Mandrell explained in the announcement that this was in response to a steep drop in sales starting in March, as shutdown and quarantine orders were being issued.

“LifeWay stands to lose tens of millions of dollars of revenue that the organization would normally generate over the summer months from camps, events, VBS and ongoing curriculum sales,” stated Mandrell.

“LifeWay is mitigating these losses as much as possible through various expense reduction plans, including staff reductions and cuts in non-employee expenses. Additionally, LifeWay will likely have to use money from its reserves to cover a portion of the lost revenue.”

The company explained that before the spread of COVID-19, they were faring well financially, having ended the first quarter 3 percent ahead of budget.

However, with the coronavirus shutdowns, LifeWay experienced five consecutive weeks of steep revenue decline across all sales channels, with revenue being down 24 percent compared to the same time last year.

LifeWay reported that the decline was largely due to a large decrease in bulk orders from churches for resources like Sunday School curriculum and Vacation Bible School.

“Since our mission is tied so closely to local churches, we expect the impact of COVID-19 to continue to be felt here at LifeWay as churches slowly and cautiously begin to reopen their facilities and gather in person,” added Mandrell.

“… the good news is the local church will rebound and recover, but it will take time and will introduce new ways of thinking about ministry.”

Earlier this month, some Christian publishing companies reported increases in Bible sales during March compared to the same time last year, likely due to fears over COVID-19.

Tyndale House Publishers reported that their Life Application Study Bible sales went up 44% and sales of the Immerse Bible went up 60%, compared to March 2019. 

Jim Jewell, an executive at Tyndale, told The Christian Post in an earlier interview that he believes concerns over the pandemic “has upended almost everyone’s lives in some way.”

“It's not surprising that people turn to the comfort and clarity of the Bible in times of trouble and uncertainty,” he said, explaining that social media engagement also grew.

“On [our Facebook page for the] New Living Translation, where we post Bible verse memes, engagement was triple what it was last March and up 72% from just last month.”

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