LifeWay Elects New President

The company's board of trustees last night unanimously approved Dr. Thom S. Rainer to become the organization’s ninth president.

The 59-member board of trustees of LifeWay Christian Resources, one of the world’s largest providers of Christian products and services, last night unanimously approved Dr. Thom S. Rainer to become the organization’s ninth president.

Confirmed as president-elect, Rainer will begin Oct. 17 and work alongside Lifeway President James T. Draper Jr. until Draper’s retirement on Feb. 1, 2006.

"This is a great day for all Southern Baptists and for LifeWay Christian Resources," said Rick Evans, pastor of Dalraida Baptist Church, Montgomery, Ala., and chairman of the LifeWay presidential search committee, who recommended Rainer in early August. "Dr. Rainer will provide the kind of leadership that will enable us to be the leading producer of Christian materials for years to come. His theological and doctrinal positions are synonymous with who we are as Southern Baptists. He is a visionary who possesses the skills to both communicate and administer the goals of LifeWay."

Rainer, 50, is founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he earned a Master of Divinity and Ph.D. at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Rainer has served as pastor of churches in Alabama, Florida, Kentucky and Indiana. He has several years of experience as a church consultant and church growth conference speaker and is in frequent demand as a speaker in Southern Baptist churches. An author of 16 books, including Surprising Insights from the Unchurched, The Unchurched Next Door and Breakout Churches. Rainer is a member of both the Academy for Evangelism in Theological Education and the American Society for Church Growth.

“I am incredibly excited to have a man of Thom Rainer’s gifts and vision to work alongside in the months ahead,” said Draper, who will be 70 in October. “He is a proven leader, a brilliant statesman and a gifted visionary. That’s why I believe LifeWay’s best days are still ahead.”

Rainer also expressed admiration for Draper’s leadership. In assuming the presidency of LifeWay, Rainer said he stands "on the shoulders of giants" that made LifeWay what it is today.

Regarding his method of leadership for Lifeway, Rainer said he will be driven by three passions: “evangelism, denominational memory, and relevancy.”

Southern Baptist Convention President Dr. Bobby Welch shared in Rainer’s mission-focused mindset.

“It’s going to be a thrill to join hands, head and heart with Dr. Rainer as we form a unity of purpose in this convention for the sake of Christ’s Kingdom and lost souls.”