LifeWay Announces Cuts Due to COVID-19

LifeWay Christian Resources, the publishing arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, announced company-wide budget cuts due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It plans to eliminate approximately 10% of its operating budget in order to stay afloat until the economy recovers.

Weeks of Steep Revenue Decline

Ben Mandrell, LifeWay’s president and CEO, said a steep decline in revenue since mid-March has forced the publishing entity to make financial adjustments. The possible inability to host summer camps and events has also contributed to the budget cuts.

LifeWay’s sales are down 24% compared with last year’s numbers. The loss in revenue is due to a drop in church resources, including Bible study materials and Sunday school curricula. The company doesn’t expect sales numbers to improve anytime soon.

“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,” Mandrell said.

Freezes, Cuts And Staff Reductions

In order to weather the COVID-19 storm, LifeWay “is implementing a series of budgetary freezes, cutbacks and staff reductions,” the Biblical Recorder reports.

“LifeWay will reduce staff, freeze all hiring and discretionary spending, and suspend salary increases… In addition…, the members of the executive leadership team will give up one month’s salary beginning in May.”

According to the Religion News Service, “LifeWay’s budget for this fiscal year is $281.3 million. It said it planned to cut between $25 million and $30 million from its budget.” The temporary reductions go into effect May 1, 2020.

“LifeWay is mitigating these losses as much as possible through various expense reduction plans. This included staff reductions and cuts in non-employee expenses,” Mandrell added.

Exploring Other Options to Cut Costs

Last week, LifeWay announced it was exploring the sale of its Ridgecrest Conference Center and Summer Camps near Asheville, NC. Organizational changes and increasing costs due to coronavirus have prompted the Nashville-based company to pursue this option.

“We hope these proactive steps will allow LifeWay to continue ministering to churches throughout the crisis, however long it lasts, and long into the future,” Mandrell said. “We want to make sure LifeWay is in a position to continue serving churches… to help them fuel their ministries.”

According to Mandrell, the COVID-19 pandemic hit just as LifeWay was recovering from closing its brick-and-mortar retail stores. Handling back-to-back restructuring initiatives hasn’t been easy.

“These are challenging times, but I am confident the Lord will use this for His glory and will push LifeWay into the future in a fresh way,” Mandrell assured.