Military personnel add to LifeWay report
NEW ORLEANS (BP) -- In his report to the Southern Baptist Convention, LifeWay President Thom S. Rainer highlighted several transformational products and projects in which LifeWay has experienced "God's hand and God's favor."
Rainer expressed gratitude for the partnership with Sherwood Baptist Church, producer of highly acclaimed movies including, and "Courageous," "Fireproof" and "Facing the Giants."
"LifeWay is so thankful for the partnership with Sherwood and the opportunity to reach people across the world with the Gospel," Rainer said, noting that through companion products such as New York Times best-selling books "The Love Dare," "The Resolution for Men" and "The Resolution for Women," "We have heard countless stories of how these resources have changed lives, including a group of U.S. soldiers stationed in Afghanistan."
In a video filmed by several U.S. military personnel serving in Afghanistan, messengers heard testimony of the effect The Resolution for Men and the movie Courageous have had.
"My journey with Courageous and The Resolution for Men started on Valentine's Day," serviceman Les Rose said on the video. "I got a package in the mail from my wife; in it she included the book. I started reading it [and] couldn't put it down. [I] finished it in a matter of two days."
Serviceman John Voisinet added: "We all got together and started a Bible study and we talked about being better fathers, better husbands, better men in Christ. It's a good thing here in Afghanistan, where morale is so low."
"Our group has grown and it continues to grow," Rose said. "We see God's will and God's Word moving through us and in us on a daily basis. It all started with Courageous and The Resolution for Men. We just thank God every day through His blessings that He's provided to us in -- of all places -- Afghanistan."
"I know that this group will continue to grow and His Word is going to continue to get out, and that men will see that it does take courage to be men of faith, who stand up and say, 'I will lead my family," serviceman Daniel Fuller said. "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
Rainer expressed appreciation to Sherwood pastor Michael Catt. Selma Wilson, vice president of B&H Publishing Group, presented Catt with a commissioned painting illustrating the word "fruitful." Additionally, Rainer presented a copy of The Resolution for Men and a Holman Christian Standard Bible to U.S. Marine Corps veteran Staff Sergeant Thomas Courtney, who served with the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines infantry battalion.
During LifeWay's presentation, Rainer introduced The Gospel Project, LifeWay's new three-year curriculum for Sunday Schools and small groups that spans all ages. Following a video describing the curriculum, Trevin Wax, managing editor of The Gospel Project, and Ed Stetzer, general editor of curriculum, spoke about LifeWay's focus in developing the new resources.
"We have multiple options for curriculum at LifeWay with a multitude of entry points into study," Stetzer said. "Yet for years, we've been hearing from churches for something that goes more in depth in theology."
"People have very different ideas of what depth means," Wax said. "Some see it as gathering a lot of new information. But we can't forget the purpose and goal isn't to win a game of Bible trivia. And the Bible isn't a self-help book. Both information and application [are] needed. And that is The Gospel Project."
Stetzer said the designers of the project saw the need for a study with "Jesus as the focus of all Scripture. All the stories, as Herschel Hobbs said, point backwards and forward to Jesus Christ.
"Going deeper means we'll deal with deeper issues," Stetzer said. "Even where believers disagree, it's important to not shy away from these issues, within the parameters of the Baptist Faith and Message."
Wax said it is exciting to see in the biblical narrative how evangelistic passion is connected to gospel proclamation.
"It's the encounter with Jesus that leads to going on mission," he said. "We want people to encounter Jesus to fuel a passion to live on mission."
Stetzer announced more than 12,000 people have downloaded a free preview of The Gospel Project at GospelProject.com, where a video Rainer showed during LifeWay's SBC presentation can also be viewed.
"The feedback has been tremendous," Stetzer said. "This is telling us churches want this."
Russ Rankin is a writer for LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.