Note: For those new to/not in the SBC, Lifeway is our "publishing arm." In case you missed it, Chuck Norris' novel, Justice Riders, is now available through Lifeway. Order your copy today! Steve McCoy has already finished it and should be posting a review this week. Kidding aside (don't kill me Mr. Norris), what I would really like to see from Lifeway is theological resources for the local church.
Last month Dr. Thom Rainer announced the launch of Broadman & Holman Academic. He said, "Through this new line we are going to communicate that we are serious about serious matters." This sounds great, like Lifeway Stout!. Our local churches are in serious need of theological resources. Many of our churches are theologically weak (but growing hungry), and those that are stronger must go elsewhere for material since Lifeway has produced so little theological work. I am excited about the possibilities here.
The past couple of years have demonstrated theology is becoming a more commonly discussed topic in our Convention, or at least the conversation is moving beyond inerrancy to other theological crises. This is a very good thing. Our people are talking about Calvinism, missional ecclesiology, the whole emerging church issue, baptism, spiritual gifts, private prayer languages and a lot more.
Since Lifeway produces study guides for Sunday School classes and small groups, how about tapping some of our pastor/theologians and scholars to put doctrinal studies together? B&H has a "Perspectives" series offering counterpoint and dialogue on issues of church government, Spirit baptism and worship. That is excellent. I believe at this moment in time our Convention would really benefit from a Perspectives release surrounding the issue of Calvinism. Additionally, the whole Broadman and Holman Academic line seems poised to be releasing strong biblical/theological works. From an outsider's perspective it appears that we have the structures in place, and we certainly have the scholarship in our Convention to produce theological materials that would be helpful to the local church.
Of course doctrinal study is not the whole of Christianity, but theological ignorance cripples our worship as well as our work, and I would love to see our publishing arm as a strong contributor to our health in this area. I know many of you wish Lifeway offered more. If so email the big dogs (usually firstname.lastname@example.org) and let them know your church would like to see theological resources from Lifeway. Give them ideas/examples of what your church needs. In all of my interaction with the people who work at Lifeway in Nashville, I have found them to be open and interested in this conversation.