LifeWay, the Lord’s Day, and the Local Church

When my wife and I first moved to Louisville, I was hired part-time to work a rock-climbing wall at a local mall.  It wasn’t the best job, but at the time, it served to help meet the financial needs facing us.  One of the most frustrating aspects of the job was that it required me to work on Sundays.  I had never had a job where I had to face working on Sundays, and having to miss Sunday morning services to make it to work on time was a reality that I could not live with.  In short order, I began looking for another job. 

I share this biographical anecdote because this kind of situation is something we should expect from the world who do not worship the Lord, honor the Sabbath, or celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  They operate on secular and pragmatic principles, determining what would be best for their business and bring them financial gain in the end.  However, as I have come to learn, our own LifeWay is now requiring their employees to work on Sunday for the purpose of completing inventory. 

Several weeks ago, I read about LifeWay’s decision to do this, but it didn’t hit home until I got an email from a good friend who told me of his concern.  Below is a portion of his email, describing their situation in the local church.

Like many small church pastors, money is tight and we were dead broke after seminary, so my wife took a job at LifeWay in ___________ to help us “make ends meet”.  This weekend is inventory for LifeWay and they have chosen to work on Sunday.  It seems that the managers (hers is NOT HAPPY) received a letter saying that LifeWay just couldn’t disappoint the “thousands of customers” who are turned away in the past due to inventory.  Until this year, previous inventory work was accomplished by closing a few hours early on Saturday so that the employees could attend church on Sunday.  Being a pastor’s wife is an extremely difficult calling.  My wife is the youth minister (we don’t have any young men…or older for that matter….to handle this), leads a Women’s Bible Study on Tues.  evenings, and teaches the Youth Sunday School class.  She also makes prospective and member visits with me when possible and cares for our 12 year old son and 13 year old daughter!  This is her work schedule for this coming weekend…..Friday working until 9-4; Saturday 3-12 midnight; Sunday (1PM until however late it takes to complete the inventory job).  She will miss Sunday evening services, youth meetings and possibly Sunday AM worship.  AND…she’s a part time employee!

With his permission, I provide this personal testimony because I believe it speaks for many of the 7,000 employees of the 140 LifeWay stores.  As I understand it, the managers of the stores will not be able to attend Sunday morning services, some I presume having responsibilities as Sunday School teachers (of LifeWay curriculum probably), greeters, etc.   I began thinking about what has been the Southern Baptist position on the Lord’s Day, so I looked up the confessions spanning from the Westminster Confession of Faith (1646) to the most recent Baptist Faith and Message (2000).  So here are all the excerpts regarding the Lord’s Day.

————————————————————

Westminster Confession of Faith (1646)

(Chapter 21.7-8) 

VII. As it is the law of nature, that, in general, a due proportion of time be set apart for the worship of God; so, in His Word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment binding all men in all ages, He has particularly appointed one day in seven, for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto him: which, from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week: and, from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week, which, in Scripture, is called the Lord’s Day, and is to be continued to the end of the world, as the Christian Sabbath.

VIII. This Sabbath is to be kept holy unto the Lord when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering of their common affairs beforehand, do not only observe an holy rest all the day from their own works, words, and thoughts about their worldly employments and recreations, but also are taken up the whole time in the public and private exercises of His worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.

London Baptist Confession (1689)

(Chapter 22.8)

The sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering their common affairs aforehand, do not only observe an holy rest all day, from their own works, words and thoughts, about their worldly employment and recreations, but are also taken up the whole time in the public and private exercises of his worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.

Philadelphia Baptist Confession (1742)

(Chapter 22.7) 

The sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering their common affairs aforehand, do not only observe an holy rest all the day from their own works, words and thoughts, about their worldly employments and recreations, but are also taken up the whole time in the public and private exercises of His worship and in the duties of necessity and mercy

New Hampshire Baptist Confession (1833)

(Article 15) 

Of the Christian Sabbath We believe that the first day of the week is the Lord’s Day, or Christian Sabbath; and is to be kept sacred to religious purposes, by abstaining from all secular labor and sinful recreations; by the devout observance of all the means of grace, both private and public; and by preparation for that rest that remaineth for the people of God. 

Abstract of Principles (1858)

(Article 17)

The Lord’s Day is a Christian institution for regular observance, and should be employed in exercises of worship and spiritual devotion, both public and private, resting from worldly employments and amusements, works of necessity and mercy only excepted.  

Baptist Faith and Message (1925)

(Article 14)
 
The first day of the week is the Lord’s day. It is a Christian institution for regular observance. It commemorates the resurrection of Christ from the dead, and should be employed in exercises of worship and spiritual devotion, both public and private, and by refraining from worldly amusements, and resting from secular employments, works of necessity and mercy only excepted.  

Baptist Faith and Message (1963)

(Article Eight) 

The first day of the week is the Lord’s Day. It is a Christian institution for regular observance. It commemorates the resurrection of Christ from the dead and should be employed in exercises of worship and spiritual devotion, both public and private, and by refraining from worldly amusements, and resting from secular employments, work of necessity and mercy only being excepted.

Baptist Faith and Message (2000) –  * NOTICE THE CHANGES *

(Article Eight)

The first day of the week is the Lord’s Day. It is a Christian institution for regular observance. It commemorates the resurrection of Christ from the dead and should include exercises of worship and spiritual devotion, both public and private. Activities on the Lord’s Day should be commensurate with the Christian’s conscience under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

————————————————————

From 1646 to 2000 (some 350+ years), the conviction of Christians was the same.  However, in the BF&M 2000, the article changed.  Here’s the difference:

” . . . by refraining from worldly amusements, and resting from secular employments, work of necessity and mercy only being excepted”

to

“Activities on the Lord’s Day should be commensurate with the Christian’s conscience under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.”

Now why did I provide all this historical information?  I did this because Southern Baptists come from a strong historical and confessional background which honors the Lord’s Day.  Only until our most recent confession has the language been changed regarding it (I really don’t know what “commensurate with the Christian conscience” exactly means).  So there is historical basis.  But that is not the only issue regarding this matter.

There is also the biblical, theological, and philosophical aspect of Christians working on Sunday.  Suffice it to say, one cannot take lightly what God has spoken so clearly.  In recent years, we have seen a renewed emphasis on integrity in church membership, church discipline, and regenerate church membership due to their absence in recent years of Southern Baptist life.  I wonder if, in the future, we will see a renewed emphasis on honoring the Lord’s Day as we have come to see it treated in many ways with contempt.

Incidentally enough, Dr. Thom Rainer, CEO of LifeWay, recently spoke at Southern Seminary a message entitled “LifeWay and the Local Church: A Vision for the Future” (download) and said some things particularly relevant to the discussion.   At the beginning of his presentation, he candidly admits to the the peril of LifeWay being seen as a business.  He says,

“One of the dangers we have at LifeWay is that we are so focused on being a business that pays our own way that we forget our primary purpose is not revenue production, as necessary as it is, but to do ministry for the benefit of local churches, primarily in the Southern Baptist Convention.” (3:10)

At the heart of his presentation, Rainer addresses the philosophical nature of LifeWay, and I have transcribed a portion of it here. 

“Are we a business that does ministry or are we a ministry that is supported by a business? . . . To me, that is critically important because that means our decision making at LifeWay is ultimately going to be determined by the dollar or by ministry.  Now we don’t always succeed in that.  Because we are self-sustaining and self-supporting, sometimes we act too much like a business.  Sometimes we make decisions that a secular corporation should make when we should be making decisions as a Christian organization should make. . . . Are we a business first or a ministry?  The answer is self-evident. . . .We are first a ministry, and when we forget that, we have forgotten who we are, forgotten who we serve, and forgotten who owns us.  We are first a business that is operated a ministry.  Ministry first, business second.” (12:00)

As you can see, Rainer is aware that LifeWay is to be committed to the local church, to ministry and not the dollar.  But is this the message people are getting when LifeWay employees are being required to work on Sunday for the purpose of not upsetting their customers (e.g. the dollar) and not allowing their employees to fulfill their responsibilities on Sunday (e.g. the local church)? 

Rainer continues by pointing out his greatest challenge. 

“Here is the challenge for which I am most passionate–that is the one to be biblical. . . . So what does it mean to be biblical?  It means that we acknowledge that there are certain truths upon which there is absolutely no compromise.  We begin with the Baptist Faith & Message. . . . I am determined that that it is going to be one of the issues at the forefront of LifeWay.” (18:45)

This is good to hear, but is it not fair to wonder about the credibility of these words when the biblical call to honor the Lord’s Day is being ignored?  Has the Lord not said,

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.  For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy” (Exodus 20:8-11). 

So I conclude by going to my days working in a secular job fighting the frustrations of having to violate the biblical command.  I do not think that Christians working in a Christian business should have to deal with such frustration or violate the fourth commandment.  After having talked to my pastor friend again, he made me aware that he has recently begun the process of moving the church to become Southern Baptist.  Many of the members of the church know little about the SBC, and he is facing opposition in that process.  When some of these members don’t find their Sunday School teacher or minister’s wife in church but rather working on Sunday at a Southern Baptist bookstore, what will this say to them about Southern Baptists? 

After having heard Dr. Rainer in recent weeks, I have reason to think that this practice of doing inventory on Sundays can change.  Let’s pray for him and for the direction of LifeWay in the future, that they would be commited to Lord’s Day as well as the local church.

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33 Comments on “LifeWay, the Lord’s Day, and the Local Church”

  1. wifey singer Says:

    wow. i can’t believe it. several years ago, as a new christian, i worked for a local christian bookstore/gift shop. once september rolled around, we were always asked to come in on sunday to set up displays, decorate, inventory etc. for the upcoming fast-paced holiday season. i simply refused. i could not justify this request: not personally, and i didn’t want to sacrifice my witness to unsaved friends/co-workers. i think it’s a horrifying thing when the “church”(christ claimers) is so saturated with the world and it’s secularism, they make these sacrifices all the time. i am still seeking the lord, after almost 8 years of walking with him, about his will for me keeping his day holy. i will now pray for lifeway. pray that they would see that the better sacrifice would be to close on some other day. i believe god would richly bless them for it. (i think of chick-fil-a…..)

  2. Tony Kummer Says:

    “commensurate with the Christian’s conscience” would place Lord’s Day on par with issues like drinking wine. I think Paul goes there in Colossians 2:16-17, “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.”

    So even BF&M 2000 allows for Christian conscience in matters of the Lord’s Day. Having employees violate conscience on this matter would be a definite contradiction of BF&M 2000.

    But while you guys are talking about LifeWay stores you should mention some of the pseudo-Christian inventory they offer. Even our store at Southern carries the best selling “Christian” stuff.


  3. Tony,

    You bring up some good points. I would like to see how someone can argue that doing inventory on the Lord’s Day does not violate both the fourth commandment as well as the BF&M, even in the watered down version of 2000. The conscience of Christians appear to be ignored when Nashville sends its orders to all LifeWay stores and their employees. And not only that, we are living in a day of chronological indifference where our confessional history carries little weight in our Convention.

    Regarding some of the literature and stuff, I will hold that for another post to stay on topic. No doubt, LifeWay has carried some pathetic stuff–something Rainer recognizes and is seeking to change (from what I can tell from the audio). As big a bureaucracy LifeWay is, things won’t change overnight, but let’s hope the ball gets rolling.

  4. Les Puryear Says:

    If Lifeway continues this policy of inventory on Sunday, then I will ask my church not to shop at Lifeway any more. Books are cheaper online and the music is cheaper to download as well.

    This is ridiculous.

    Les

  5. Les Puryear Says:

    Tim,

    BTW, I have provided a link to this post from my blog. You have stated the concern very well, my friend.

    Les


  6. Thanks Les. I am hopeful that LifeWay’s policy will change. The email I mentioned above speaks loudly to me, and I hope their concerns are well received.


  7. This is terrible. But it’s just another example of the hypocrisy that exists in “Christian” business.

    As for me, I won’t boycott Lifeway. The one on campus is the only place I can get the kind of books I want to be reading without having to slavishly order it online. The one on Hurstbourne is the only one where I can find “church supplies” in abundance, as well. Besides, we didn’t really learn anything with all the boycotts we’ve done in the past, and I doubt we’ll do anything here either.

    If we really want to do something significant, our churches ought to stop getting their educational materials from Lifeway en masse. That would hurt far worse than any boycott ever could. On top of that, it might force our Sunday School and VBS teachers to actually teach the Word instead of spewing out something half-baked from Nashville.

  8. D. Taylor Benton Says:

    What is interesting is that “one of our own”, previous dean at SBTS, Thom Rainer, is the big man of Lifeway. I think most, if not all “Christian” bookstores have sold out to selling anything that some says it is Christian, regardless of its quality or adherence to our great Faith. Some of the books, trinkets, and TSHIRTS are downright ridiculous that bookstores sell. I mean why try to look like the world in twisting a logo or words of a popular name brand clothing line, we are to be In and not Of the world.
    It does not surprise me that they require people to work on Sundays.
    At least we know ole’ Truett Cathy will tow the line and keeps his stores closed on Sundays. I think Lifeway needs to take a look at Chick Fil-A as a business model and see that if we are faithful, God will bless. Another thing Lifeway can glean from Chick Fil-A is quality. If they sell more quality products at better prices, they do not have to worry about being open on Sundays because I know I would shop there more. I know of only the Lifeway on the SBTS campus that actually provides a good selection of books, the rest of the stores are in my opinion pretty useless and only offer a plethora of watered down books, music, videos, bracelets, and cross shaped breath mints.
    I say all that to say I think Lifeway and Christian bookstores have many areas of concern and room for improvement.

  9. Mark Inman Says:

    I am not sure that this is an issue of breaking the fourth commandment. I wrote a paper in Biblical Theology last semester regarding the Sabbath, and concluded that the Sabbath was a sort of signpost pointing toward the rest that was to be fully revealed in Christ. Thus, my interpretation of the Sabbath is that it was a signpost/prophetic teaching for the nation of Israel (meaning that they should have understood that Sabbath to be pointing them toward an ultimate rest in the eschatological land that is to be inherited by those whom God has chosen) and is a mainly Christological Doctrine for new covenant believers (meaning that in Christ, we have received rest from our burdens, such as sin and the law). But perhaps this is another conversation for another day. . .

    That being said, I think that if we are going to say that Lifeway is in the wrong, then it should be because they are robbing their employees of the opportunity to spend a day fellowshipping and communing with other believers, not because they are forcing their employees to violate biblical command (as in the 4th commandment). Although, I guess it might be said that they are forcing them to “forsake the assembling of the saints” — which is exactly something we are told not to do. But still yet, the participle “forsake” has an active voice, rather than passive, so I don’t think that a person who was scheduled by their employee to work a Sunday is actively forsaking the gathering of the saints. Although, if a Christian is being coerced week in and week out to miss out on fellowshipping in community worship with other believers, then in this situation the believer should obviously consider finding another job that will respect his or her faith obligations.

    This brings a question to my mind. Is this a one time thing that Lifeway has to do every now and then? Has Lifeway just asked their employees to work on one Sunday for inventory? or is it a weekly occurrence?

    I realize this comment is sprinkled with polyglot info, and that I have a bit of a different perspective on the issue. Hopefully what I have said is halfway understandable.

    BTW, how are things in Louisville Timmy? Jacob and I were planning on going to Chicago for spring break, but the plan fall through. We may come through Louisville instead. If so, we should grab a cup of coffee or something.


    Mark Inman


  10. Mark,

    While I agree that the Sabbath points to the eschatological rest accomplished through the finished work of Christ, I still believe that honoring the Sabbath still applies today. As Christ said, he came not to abolish the Law but to fulfill it. The Sabbath has never been considered merely a signpost, and we have 2000 years of church history to prove the orthodoxy of honoring the Lord’s Day.

    So if the Lord says to honor the Sabbath (a command), and you thereby dishonor that command, is it not sin? When he commanded to not lie and yet you lie, is that not sin? When he commanded to honor your father and mother and you rebel against them, is that not sin?

    Regarding LifeWay employees and fellowshipping with other believers, I don’t think it merely ends there. Many have ministerial responsibilities in the church to fulfill and will not be able to due to having to work. It is a real stretch to say that, although obligated, a person does not volitionally forsake the assembling of the saints” (passive). The irony here is that the customers LifeWay don’t want to upset are the members of the local church who are more likely to be more upset by having their brothers and sisters work on the Lord’s Day. Futhermore, the products LifeWay offers, including SS material, aren’t worth anything if their teachers are in a backroom checking off inventory at a bookstore rather than teaching the class God has called them to serve. As has been mentioned earlier, LifeWay would do well to learn from men like Truett Cathy (who is by the way a Southern Baptist Sunday School teacher).

    As I understand it, this is not a weekly thing but once a year working on Sunday. But should that make any difference? The issue here is not exception but principle. The principle is grounded in Scripture and attested by chuch history. I think you made a good attempt for excusing LifeWay’s decision, but that comes at the expense of glossing over the instruction (Torah) of God and minimizing the significance of the Lord’s Day in the Christian life. I am not a hard-core Sabbatarian, but I am not going explicit biblical commands of Scripture either. Though I would agree that in Christ they find their ultimate fulfillment, that does not mean they have relevance or application to the Church today.

    Mark, if you and Jacob come to Louisvlle, I would be honored to spend some time with you. If you need a place to stay, we would love to host you guys. While I am not a big coffee drinker, I like how it smells, so I will bring my gas station hot-chocolate and enjoy some good time together. 😉


  11. I don’t know if any of you have downloaded the audio from Rainer’s message at SBTS, but I encourage you to listen to it. The last ten minutes Rainer shares his vision for the future of LifeWay, detailing seven specific areas including biblical depth, relevance, long-tail, etc.

  12. Mark Inman Says:

    Timmy

    I was afraid that I may have assumed a little too much in my post. What I was trying to do is to make a distinction between the Sabbath and the lord’s day. For this type of Biblical theological understanding of the Sabbath you might check out a collection of essays entitles “From Sabbath to Lord’s Day” edited by D.A. Carson, “The God of Promise in the Life of Faith” by Scott Haffeman, and I–maybe somewhat surprisingly– think that this line of thought is evident in Calvin’s discussion of the fourth commandment in “The Institutes”.

    It is good to hear from you man, I will let you know if we come to Louisville. Hope all is well!


  13. Mark,

    I must admit that I have not read much Hafeman or any of the entries in Carson’s collected essays. This afternoon, however, I have been persuing some stuff in my library, particuarly in the Puritans. Now I am showing my persuasion and probable bias, but here’s some of the selected sources I’m checking out on the Lord’s Day:

    John Calvin. Institutes of the Christian Religion, pp. 394-401.
    John Dagg. Manual of Church Order, pp. 232-40.
    J. I. Packer. A Quest for Godliness, pp. 233-43.
    J. I. Packer. Puritan Papers: Volume One, 1956-1959, pp. 87-99.
    William Ames. The Marrow of Theology, pp. 291-300.
    Joel Beeke. Puritan Reformed Spirituality, pp. 111-18.

    I quickly realized that I don’t have many books dedicated to ecclesiology or biblical theology, and so I am hoping to develop my understanding on those areas in the future. I would like to read your paper sometime. I am sure there is a lot there I could learn from. 🙂


  14. In his chapter, “The Puritans and the Lord’s Day,” Packer explains for characteristics of the fourth commandment as understood by the Puritans (in particular Matthew Henry and Jonathan Edwards). The four characteristics are:

    (1). Sabbath-keeping means action, not inaction. We do not keep the Sabbath holy by lounging around doing nothing. We are to rest from the business of our earthly calling in order to prosecute the business of our heavenly calling. If we do not spend the day doing the latter, we fail to keep it holy.

    (2). Sabbath-keeping is not a tedious burden, but a joyous privilege. The Sabbath is not a fast, but a feast, a day of rejoicing in the work of a gracious God, and joy must be its temper throughout. . . . And thsoe who say that they cannot find joy in the spiritual exercises of a Christian Sunday thereby show that there is something very wrong with them.

    (3). Sabbath-keeping is not a useless labour, but a means of grace. “God hath made it our duty, by his institution, to set apart this day for a special seeking of his grace and blessing . . .” (Edwards).

    (4). Sabbath-breaking brings chastisement; as does the abuse of any God-given privilege and means of grace. Spiritual decline and material loss accrue to both individuals and communities for this sin. The good gifts of God may not be despised with impunity.

    J. I. Packer, “The Puritan and the Lord’s Day,” in Puritan Papers: Volume One, 1956-1959. (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed, 2000), 94-96.


  15. Mark,

    I just read through Calvin’s section on the Sabbath in his Institutes, and at this point I must disagree with him and his treatment of the Lord’s Day. He appears to have a major hangup on the Jewish supersition of observance of days and his interpretation of Colossians 2:17. He does argue that the Sabbath was abolished in Christ and it serves the purpose to “make them aspire to this perfection by unceasing meditation upon the Sabbath throughout life” (296) and “as a remedy needed to keep order in the church” (399). In other words, he says that we are to meditate throughout our lives on an everlasting Sabbath rest from all our works so that the Lord would work through us by His Spirit (400). I do not find myself algined to this understanding but am more Edwardsean and Puritan. Packer argues that the Reformers were inconsistent (at worst hypocritical) with their position on the Lord’s Day, and argues that the Puritans correct that inconsistency. I might write a thing or two on Edwards exposition on the Lord’s Day in the future.


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  17. Scott Says:

    My secular career is in the hospital — 20+ years. Currently, I am required to work every third weekend including Sundays. If I were to put my foot down and refuse three things happen…

    1. The staff is shortened thereby increasing already heightened workloads.
    2. The patients are threatened with the possibility of not receiving proper care.
    3. I will lose my job and my family loses its one-source income.

    What thoughts have you in regard to this?

  18. sosipater Says:

    Scott,

    I know you were probably asking Timmy, but my thoughts are that medical work is considered an act of mercy/necessity and is therefore something you can do if you have to.

    Russ


  19. Scott,

    I would agree with Russ. My brother is a trauma nurse, and due to the nature of his job, he is required to work on Sundays. Does he enjoy it? Not a bit. But he does it because other people’s lives are in the balance at his job.

    The driving push of capitalism and increasing demands of our economy (a lot which we put on ourself through our spending habits and lifestyle) places us as Christians in a very difficult situation. There will be jobs, such as the restaurant business for example, that you will have to deal with working on Sunday. I simply hold to the conviction that Christians should make every effort to honor the Lord on the Lord’s Day. There will be situations where it is unavoidable, and we should lament that. But having LifeWay emploiyees work on Sunday is neither necessary or supported by biblical conviction. As you have said, there are other factors which weight in, such as taking care of your family and making sacrifices in order to ensure that the needs are being met. I just hold the conviction and hope that the Lord’s Day is not part of that sacrifice when it does not need be. In your case, there is a necessity. In other’s, such as LifeWay, there isn’t.

  20. Roy Says:

    Could you provide us a list of things that are acceptable to do on Sundays?


  21. Roy,

    Could explain why you are asking me that question?


  22. . . . and next time you comment, please leave a legitimate email or your comment will be deleted.

    Thanks.


  23. Timmy,
    I do not have the patience to read through all of the responses, but I agree with your point overall. I do know, however, that not all Lifeway stores did inventory on a Sunday this year. I know the Lifeway in Jackson, TN did inventory on Saturday. But I do agree that a Christian organization should give employees Sunday off for rest, fellowship, and their participation in the local church. Thanks for another great post.


  24. David,

    Thanks man. I also went into LifeWay today at school and noticed that inventory was being done (if not already done). This is good news. Thanks for sharing the info!

  25. Mark Inman Says:

    Timmy

    I asked a friend who works at the Lifeway here in Jackson if there was any particular reason why Lifeway had them work on Sunday (considering that the Lifeway workers here did have to work inventory on Sunday, contra David Wickiser–who is a dear friend of mine, and who I have taken 4 semesters of Greek with. I think there may have been a misunderstanding since the volunteers worked on Saturday night and then the workers had to come back in Sunday afternoon).

    My friend heard that the reason they were having their employees come in on Sunday afternoon is because in the past years inventory has gone into the wee hours of the night, causing people to sleep through church the following Sunday. In light of this Lifeway shortened the work hours on Saturday night and added hours on Sunday afternoon, attempting to encourage their workers not to miss their weekly fellowship.

    So I think that this discussion might be somewhat directed toward a strawman. It seems as though Lifeway’s intentions were to encourage their workers to go to their weekly celebration, and not to coerce them to miss out on it.

    (note: I do not mean for this comment to imply that I have been convinced of the sabbatarian position. I am only trying to get clarify Lifeway’s intentions in having their workers work on Sunday afternoon.)


    Mark


  26. […] L. Dagg on the Fourth Commandment I have provided excerpts from Puritans and Edwards, and today I want to provide an excerpt from a leading voice in Southern Baptist life, […]


  27. Mark,

    A straw man? Well, I would have to let the LifeWay employees decide that one. 😉

    So why can’t they do it on Monday? If you look back at the email I received, this minister’s wife works Saturday from 3:00 p.m. to midnight. Then she has to be back Sunday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. until they are finished. Doesn’t exactly sound like letting out early on Saturday evening, unless of course you are a third shifter like me (last time I checked there were no LifeWay 3rd shifters).

    As has been stated by the email and elsewhere on the Internet, the reason was because LifeWay did nto want to upset all their customers by closing early on Saturday. We can play the rationale game, but all this would be unnecessary if LifeWay would just take the high road and honor the Lord’s Day.


  28. Mark,

    By the way, I picked up a couple of books (at LifeWay I might add) on the subject that I am looking forward to reading. One is the one you mentioned (From Sabbath to the Lord’s Day), and the other is Walter Chantry’s Call the Sabbath a Delight.

    The more I read, and the more people I talk to, the more positions I find people have on this subject matter. In any case, if anything good has come out of this, it has provoked me to think and study this matter at a level I had not done before. It has been good.

    Oh, and I am not a Sabbatarian as generally understood. I simply believe that we should make every attempt to honor the Lord’s Day and observe the sabbath rest.

  29. Mark Inman Says:

    Timmy

    I have an ethics paper coming up, and have been considering writing it as a follow up to my Bib. Theo. paper. This discussion has made the decision for me. I am looking forward to it, and have enoyed the dialogue.

    By the way, those two books are very good. I didn’t use chantry’s as much, but Carson’s collection of essays gives a good “biblical, historical, and theological” analysis. I know i said this quite a few posts ago, but Scott Hafemann’s The God of Promise and the Life of Faith also gives a good biblical theological perspective on the Sabbath (that is where I got the “signpost” language, denoting the sabbath as a pointing forward to the future rest beiever’s would have in Christ and the ultimate eschatological rest believer’s would have when the inherit the kingdom). I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts.


  30. Timmy —

    I just saw this thread, and it’s not really anything new. Family stopped closing on Sundays three years ago.

    My bookstore does now, and will as long as I own it, close on Sunday. My bookstore is not a church, but it requires the church, and I hope it honors the church — by allowing the members of the church to be with God’s people rather than behind a counter selling plastic junk to sight-seers. There is no business we might conduct on SUnday that we can’t conduct on Saturday or Monday.

    I am sure there’s good money in being open on Sundays. It’s not enough to defeat everything else we are trying to do by keeping people out of church to run a till.

    The next thing you’ll be discussing is why LifeWay will not sell its curriculum to non-LifeWay stores at a wholesale price. Can’t wait for that one — see if they will tell you why that’s true.


  31. Mark,
    I see where I had a misunderstanding, thanks for the new information. Now that I think of it, some volunteers had told me they didn’t work on Sunday.

  32. Christian Says:

    LifeWay Store Employee Here ~

    A lot has been said on this blog, and much of it makes sense. I will add my 2 cents and, as always, please take it or leave it as you will.

    LifeWay is about ministering to the needs of people everywhere. “… help people and churches know Jesus Christ and seek his kingdom by providing biblical solutions…” Many of us really do take that vision statement to heart and do our best every day. I can recite it, as can many of our associates and not because we are asked to, but because we are passionate about it and what it means!

    While I admit that we do serve an imperfect organization in an imperfect world, we really do believe that our leadership does much more good than any possible harm and I believe in them. Many of us didn’t mind in the least having the opportunity to serve our community that much longer on a Saturday evening. I will NEVER cease to be amazed at the number of customers that come in the night before for communion cups and wafers, accompaniment tracks for special music, or a bible to present to a speaker the next day (needing a name monogrammed immediately, of course…). We are about meeting those needs, and LOVE IT! Yes, we came in after attending our church services for a few hours on Sunday (I don’t speak for the chain, store managers do create the atmosphere and tone in each store: It was voluntary here) and finished our counts and went home for a nice relaxing evening with our spouses and children. We also played music and sang and had devotional and prayer time. Was it work: Yes. Was it worth it: Yes. If we were able to further the Kingdom of God in any way by being open a few more hours on Saturday, I would give up much more than a few hours, as would every associate at my store. No, I don’t speak for every employee, but I hope I do speak for their heart in this matter. We are all here for furthering Gods Kingdom and we LOVE IT!

    LifeWay isn’t going to be open on Sunday and I do very much agree with that, but I do believe that in an attempt to serve our brothers and sisters in Christ better, I can spend a little extra time on any given day of the week. Our model, Jesus worked on Sunday when he felt it was needed. I’m happy to follow his model. No, I don’t think I’m as wise as our Saviour and Lord, but I feel secure in this one.

    Thanks for reading. Hope I helped.


  33. Dear Beloved Servant in christ,
    Recieve our christian greetings from kenya in the gracious name of
    our beloved Holy one the Lord Jesus Christ from whom we are forgiven and
    saved. We are greatly blessed and feel privileged
    to know you through your website, learnt about your faith and your
    desire to serve God.

    We are an independent fellowship church group in kenya desiring to be hed in your church ministry. We are independent in that we are
    without any cover,are not under any mission, ministry or church
    organization. We request for your Christian literature materials and bibles.
    We also practise the christian love and mercy by caring 15 needy orphan children who need help.
    We pray that through God’s Holy Spirit at work, that you shall
    appreciate our interest and desire that we might find a definite spiritual
    partinership with your church ministry.

    May God richly bless you as we look forward for your feedback.
    Yours Pastor Wycliffe okemwa.


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