This morning, there was a dramatic scene in downtown Nashville, as Draper Centennial Tower at LifeWay’s former campus came down in an implosion. At 9:30 AM local time, the carefully planned implosion took place, clearing the way for new development following the sale of the downtown property – which broke the record for the largest real estate transaction in Nashville history.
LifeWay corporate employees have already been moved to their new location at Capitol View in Nashville – a brand-new building that is specifically tailored to fit the needs of the company, while providing better overall stewardship of resources regarding cost of space. In particular, the technological assets that the new building provides allow for better communication and collaboration across the organization, even with employees who are not located in Nashville.
The implosion was recorded live by many sources, including the Tennessean news agency, which provided a link to the video here: http://www.tennessean.com/videos/news/2018/01/06/video-lifeway-tower-implosion-nashville/109206622/.
Watching the old building come down brought mixed emotions to those who had worked at or visited the LifeWay building, or benefited from their “Biblical Solutions for Life.” But Dr. Jimmy Draper, former President of LifeWay (for whom the imploded tower was named), addressed the issue well when he stated for Baptist Press: “Some wonderful things occurred within those walls. However, that building never helped a church in its ministry, nor any person in their devotion to the Lord. It never designed a budget or a building for a church, nor provided a single piece of Bible study curriculum or a single piece of discipleship material…It never won a single soul to faith in Christ.
“But the people who have served in these buildings have done all that and infinitely more. Individuals come and go, but all who serve or have served here comprise the essence and the strength of LifeWay.”
Dr. Thom Rainer echoed these sentiments to BP: “God has worked in that place, but God is not limited to a place. LifeWay has served the church obediently for 126 years, and the future is in front of us. As we remember our past, we move toward the future with anticipation and excitement.”
Dr. Frank Page, President and CEO of the Executive Committee of the SBC, shared this with me in relation to today’s events: “Life is full of transitions. Ministries, ministers, and institutions go through seasons of transition. LifeWay is certainly in the midst of a major transition in their relocation. The key is to focus on the mission and the person behind that mission. It is the Lord Jesus Christ who should remain our focus. Buildings come and buildings go. Leaders come and leaders go. However, our central focus must always be on our Lord who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life!”
As both a Cooperative Program Catalyst and a LifeWay trustee, I am grateful for men like Dr. Draper, Dr. Rainer, and Dr. Page, who understand that ministry is about more than buildings. The Kingdom of God is not brick and mortar, but God’s reign and work in the hearts of disciples of Jesus. In this work, we are truly better together. May the next generation of Southern Baptists take up this torch as we push back lostness and make disciples of every nation, tribe, people, and language!