Colorado pastor Ben Mandrell nominated as LifeWay president/CEO

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Ben Mandrell, 42, will be nominated by LifeWay Christian Resources trustees’ presidential search committee as the entity’s 10th president. The vote is scheduled for a June 28, 2019 board meeting in Atlanta. STORYLINE FELLOWSHIP/Special

By Carol Pipes

NASHVILLE (BP) — Colorado pastor Ben Mandrell has been unanimously recommended as the next president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources by the trustees’ presidential search committee.

Mandrell, 42, is the lead pastor of Storyline Fellowship in Arvada, Colorado.

Trustees will vote on the recommendation during a special called session Friday, June 28, in Atlanta.

If elected, Mandrell will become the 10th president of the 128-year-old Southern Baptist entity.

Mandrell and his family moved to the Denver area in 2014 to plant Storyline Fellowship in partnership with the North American Mission Board and First Baptist Church in Orlando, Florida. The church launched in February 2015 with 250 people and has grown to 1,600 in weekly attendance, with over 2,800 this past Easter.

Before planting Storyline Fellowship, Mandrell served as senior pastor of Englewood Baptist Church in Jackson, Tennessee, from 2006-2013, leading the church to grow from 1,800 to 2,600 in weekly attendance. Before becoming senior pastor, he served as the church’s college pastor and as director of discipleship ministries at Union University in Jackson. He previously was on staff with Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, K-Life Ministries of Orlando, Florida, and Sterling Christian School in Sterling, Illinois.

“I am so humbled by this incredible opportunity and grateful to be joining the amazing team of creatives at LifeWay,” Mandrell said. “I can hardly wait to see what God has in store for these coming years.”

Leader with ‘a focused and compelling vision’

The recommendation of Mandrell follows a 10-month search that began with the presidential search committee members’ commitment to pray every day and seek God’s guidance throughout the process, committee chairman Kent Dacus said. He said the committee gave serious and prayerful consideration to a diverse field of candidates.

Ben and Lynley Mandrell have four children: Ava (15), Max (14), Miles (12) and Jack (11). The Mandrells serve at Storyline Fellowship in Arvada, Colorado. STORYLINE FELLOWSHIP/Special

“Ben has an incredible passion for the local church and for how LifeWay can help meet its needs,” Dacus said. “We found a leader who has a focused and compelling vision for the future of LifeWay.”

Trustee chairman Jimmy Scroggins agreed with Dacus, saying, “Ben’s proven leadership and vision matches LifeWay’s assignment to serve churches in their mission of making disciples.”

A native of Tampico, Illinois, Mandrell graduated from Anderson (Ind.) University in 1998. He also holds a master of divinity degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a doctor of ministry degree from Union University.

Mandrell and his wife Lynley have been married 18 years. Lynley, a native of Jonesboro, Arkansas and graduate of the University of Central Arkansas, serves as the director of Storyline Fellowship’s Kids Ministry. The Mandrells have four children: Ava, 15; Max, 14; Miles, 12; and Jack, 11.

Press conference scheduled for June 28

“What an incredible leader and future for LifeWay,” said Thom S. Rainer, who served as LifeWay’s ninth president from February 2006 to February 2019. “God has raised up the right man for the right leadership at the right time.”

Search committee members noted Mandrell’s wisdom, energy, and visionary leadership as well as his commitment to Scripture and heart for reaching the lost as qualities that make him uniquely suited to this role.

Ben Mandrell, lead pastor of Storyline Fellowship in Denver, gives a message on “Blessed are the Poor in Spirit” June 10 on the last day of the two-day 2019 SBC Pastors’ Conference in Birmingham, Alabama. Mandrell was unanimously recommended by the LifeWay presidential search committee. STORYLINE FELLOWSHIP/Special

“I’m excited to see how LifeWay and the organization’s employees will be leveraged to reach a continuously changing culture with the Gospel,” committee member Brad McLean said. “Ben is a high-quality leader who loves the Lord and His church, and he will impact LifeWay and the Southern Baptist Convention for years to come.”

The trustees appointed to the search committee were Kent Dacus (Calif.), Bill Langley (Ky.), Millie Burkett (Ore.), Brad McLean (Texas), Madeline Harris (Pa.), Todd Fannin (Okla.), and Luther McDaniel (Tenn.). Alternate members were Mike Osborne (Va.) and J.D. Perry (La.).

“The search committee has fervently prayed to God for His choice and for the leader He wanted in place for such a time as this,” search committee member Madeline Harris said. “Ben sees this position at LifeWay as a call to serve God and God’s people.”

A press conference is scheduled for Friday, June 28, from 4-4:30 p.m. EDT, pending Mandrell’s election. The press conference also will be accessible for media via Zoom web conferencing.


Carol Pipes is director of corporate communications for LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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