LifeWord Broadcast Ministries, Inc.
The information on this page was last updated 1/31/2023. If you see errors or omissions, please email: [email protected]
Lifeword is the media arm of the Baptist Missionary Association (BMA) of America. Lifeword exists to assist local churches of the Baptist Missionary Association in fulfilling the Great Commission by providing Christ-centered media to produce disciples of Jesus Christ.
Our international headquarters and primary production center is located at 611 Locust Street, Conway, Arkansas. We also have regional production centers in the Philippines, Ghana, Honduras and Guatemala.
Lifeword Media Ministries is an international ministry of the BMA of America. It is owned and governed by the churches affiliated with the BMA, which meets annually to hear reports and conduct business related to its various departments.
Lifeword Media Ministries
PO Box 6
Conway, AR 72033
Phone: (501) 329-6891
Email: [email protected]
CEO/President: Donny Parrish
Board size: 15
Founder: Harold Morris
Ruling year: 1969
Tax deductible: Yes
Fiscal year end: 05/31
Member of ECFA: No
Member of ECFA since:
Vision: To use media to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to the entire world.
Lifeword exists to help make disciples through the creative proclamation, production and promotion of biblically-sound media in the heart language of every tongue, tribe and nation.
Statement of faith
We follow the beliefs (Doctrinal Statement) of the Baptist Missionary Association of America.
Donor confidence score
|Does the organization have a statement of faith consistent with historic Christian creeds and is that statement of easily found on its website?||Yes||4/4|
|Does the board have no more than 2 non-independent members?||Yes||10/10|
|Does the board have at least four independent board members for every non-independent member?||Yes||4/4|
|Does the board contain between 5 and 11 members?||No||0/10|
|Does the organization file a Form 990 and make its Form 990 available to the public?||Yes||15/15|
|Does the organization make its audit or review (if annual revenue is more than $1-m) available on its website?||No||0/4|
|Is the organization a member of the ECFA?||No||0/9|
|Is the CEO/President's compensation within one standard deviation of the median compensation?||No||0/4|
|Did the organization operate at a net profit (revenue greater than expenses) in the most recent year?||Yes||4/4|
|Does the organization refrain from owning or leasing a private aircraft, or having fractional interest in one, that is primarily used for travel by the organization's leaders?||Yes||4/4|
|For the past five years, has the organization been free of any lawsuits or administrative actions filed against it by an employee, client, board member, vendor, donor, or other related party?||Yes||4/4|
|Are author royalties and speaking engagement fees paid to the organization, and not the individual?||Yes||4/4|
|Does the organization require its employees to affirm upon hiring the statement of faith of the organization?||No||0/4|
|Is the board chair an independent member of the board?||Yes||4/4|
|Does the board have term limits?||Yes||4/4|
|Have there been no public accusations of misdeeds against the organization, founder, CEO, senior pastor, or board members in the past five years?||Yes||4/4|
|Has the organization refrained from the use of non-disclosure agreements?||Yes||4/4|
|Does the organization have an overall financial efficiency rating of at least 2 stars?||Yes||4/4|
|Total donor confidence score||69/100|
To understand our transparency grade, click here.
Financial efficiency ratings
Sector: Radio/ TV Stations
|Category||Rating||Overall rank||Sector rank|
|Overall efficiency rating||765 of 1074||20 of 28|
|Fund acquisition rating||675 of 1075||19 of 28|
|Resource allocation rating||343 of 1075||11 of 28|
|Asset utilization rating||998 of 1074||24 of 28|
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|Receivables, inventories, prepaids||$31,169||$46,779||$26,885||$29,563||$7,481|
|Other current assets||$0||$0||$0||$0||$0|
|Total current assets||$847,895||$663,835||$944,233||$891,875||$772,542|
|Other long-term assets||$482,584||$544,967||$126,999||$0||$0|
|Total long-term assets||$3,758,497||$3,327,632||$2,962,899||$2,934,200||$2,853,518|
|Payables and accrued expenses||$91,291||$79,673||$91,209||$71,716||$48,177|
|Other current liabilities||$0||$0||$0||$0||$0|
|Total current liabilities||$91,291||$79,673||$91,209||$71,716||$48,177|
|Due to (from) affiliates||$0||$0||$0||$0||$0|
|Other long-term liabilities||$0||$90,600||$0||$1,000||$2,000|
|Total long-term liabilities||$0||$90,600||$0||$1,000||$2,000|
|Without donor restrictions||$3,732,388||$3,072,778||$3,076,274||$3,027,926||$2,717,266|
|With donor restrictions||$782,713||$748,416||$739,649||$725,433||$858,617|
|Revenues and expenses|
|Program service revenue||$17,726||$7,713||$20,547||$4,066||$53,069|
|Total other revenue||$866,577||$389,565||$284,372||$433,942||$448,176|
|Management and general||$137,545||$265,038||$172,098||$164,130||$137,298|
|Change in net assets||2021||2020||2019||2017||2016|
|Other changes in net assets||$0||$0||$0||$0||$0|
|Total change in net assets||$640,967||($4,408)||$289,533||$181,504||$111,631|
Compensation data for this ministry has not been collected.
Response from ministry
No response has been provided by this ministry.
The information below was provided to MinistryWatch by the ministry itself. It was last updated 1/31/2023. To update the information below, please email: [email protected]
"Surely, we have only to read the front pages of our newspaper or hear the newscasts to know that our nation is in crisis times, and we feel that the greatest help that we could give our own America is the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Until men know Jesus in an intimate way by receiving him as personal Savior and being transformed by his grace, we cannot expect to see civil justice. Truly, America is one of the greatest and most needy mission fields of the hour, and I am persuaded that unless we give our best to make Jesus known to our own country that the liberty, peace and prosperity we know today will not endure long."
Although this sounds like a call to action for today's Christians, it was actually written in 1965 by Harold Morris, the first missionary commissioned by the Baptist Missionary Association (BMA) of churches. After his health forced him to leave his mission field of Brazil, he became a promotional worker for the BMA and traveled throughout the country carrying a heavy burden for the lost.
God gave him a vision to reach the masses through media, and on September 4, 1965, Bro. Morris began a Saturday afternoon radio broadcast on KSTL In St. Louis, Missouri "to make Jesus known to the multitudes of our own land." In November of 1965 Morris named his program The Harvest Gleaner Gospel Hour (HGH), and three years later, it became a department of the BMA with Morris as its first director.
A man with incredible vision and a desire to be used of God, Morris used the best technology available to fulfill the Great Commission. When he recorded that first broadcast of the Harvest Gleaner Gospel Hour from the living room of his home in Conway, Arkansas, his intent was to "make full use of the best technical means of communication...Not to take advantage of these opportunities will be tragic, not only for us, but for a lost and disillusioned world. To fall behind the times, to use means not equal with the task is like using the pick and shovel to build our highways...We are under orders: 'Go, preach, make disciples.'"
Understanding completely the importance of radio ministry to missionaries, he believed that "one radio broadcast can reach more people per week with the gospel than any missionary family can possibly do." During his time as director, he established a relationship with Trans World Radio (TWR) that continues today; he sent music, sermon and Bible study tapes all over the world; and he sought after the highest powered radio stations in America and abroad on which to broadcast.
Sadly, in November of 1970 Harold Morris died from the heart complications that plagued him on the mission field. A former president of two Christian colleges, A.R. Reddin became director of Harvest Gleaner Hour in February of 1971. He soon addressed the need for print materials for follow-up correspondence to radio broadcasts, especially those detailing the plan of salvation, by issuing a plea to churches to respond to this financial need.
After a year serving as director, A.R. Reddin died in 1972, and Bro. Paul Bearfield, missionary to Taiwan and a HGH broadcast speaker for several years, came off the field to become the new director. During his tenure, twenty-two radio broadcast stations were added in three languages: English, Spanish (Puerto Rico) and Creole French (Haiti).
At the time, radio stations in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas broadcasted those programs. In addition, there were translated broadcasts in Puerto Rico, Haiti and Mexico, but it would be three more years until HGH had its own native-language speakers.
To help finance the cost of the rapidly multiplying American and foreign radio stations, possible television broadcasting, the high demand for print materials and cassettes, increases in postage, and a new building, Bro. Bearfield traveled extensively to speak to churches and groups.
In June of 1975, with the intent to some day include television broadcasting, Harvest Gleaner Hour staff moved into a building in Conway's industrial park. There were forty-four stations in thirteen states and three foreign countries that aired HGH radio broadcasts with 1976 and 1977 being the years of tremendous increase in foreign stations and languages.
It was during those years that HGH began gospel programming to the Middle East in Israel, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and other Arabic-speaking countries. Stations in Sierra Leone, Panama and the Philippines were also added. In all four of those countries, BMA missionaries played important roles in establishing broadcasts.
In December after years of prayer, Taiwan missionary Jack Bateman preached the gospel in his native tongue (Mandarin) to the millions of people on mainland China. Five programs were produced at an undisclosed location and brought back from the "Far East" to HGH studios by Bro. Bearfield.
In January of 1978, Harvest Gleaner Hour radio broadcasts were heard in three languages: Portugese, Illongo, and Mandarin. The much-anticipated Spanish and Arabic languages were added in 1979. Listener response letters to HGH included requests for booklets and tracts mentioned on the broadcasts.
HGH radio programs never asked for money on the air (and still do not to this day), but listeners often sent checks "to cover the broadcast expenses in our area." Broadcasts, studios and costly production equipment was often underwritten as well, enabling the building to become debt -free in late 1978, just three years after it opened.
In 1979, there were seven on-site employees, two language coordinators and six speakers. The media ministry was growing, listeners all over the world were responding, and requests for new stations were increasing. Staying on the cutting edge of technology was a priority, so with production costs on the rise in 1980, a $20,000 computer was purchased to help employees "use our time more effectively".
In June of that year, Bro. Bearfield attended a conference during which he heard about a fundraiser called a "walk-a-thon," which he adapted as the first HGH Walk-A-Thon. He had led the ministry for eight years and knew the broadcasts could reach more people if it could be aired on more stations and in additional languages, particularly in the "heart languages" of its listeners.
In October of 1980, churches throughout the BMA held twenty-mile walks for the first time and raised three times the amount of Bro. Bearfield's goal. The Walk of Faith had increased budgetary funds that helped expand the media ministry, and in the next six years the event raised even more funds.
Paul Bearfield passed away on January of 1986 and the Board named Bro. George Reddin executive director two days later. His first major objective was upgrading the recording studio at a cost of $90,000. Not long after that quote came in, a check was received for that exact amount, reassurance for Bro. Bearfield that God would indeed be with him during his time there. In addition to quality production equipment, he also focused on quality team members "whose talents exceeded my own."
By 1987, the name Harvest Gleaner Hour had become problematic. It was hard to enunciate clearly, and the word gleaner was unfamiliar to many. During a brainstorming session with advertising executives, Bro. George was asked the purpose of Lifeword, and he replied, "To spread the words of life to everyone around the world." Harvest Gleaner Hour soon became "Lifeword."
In the early 1990s, the Lifeword team began targeting unsaved listeners by experimenting with short format, one-minute dialogues using current events and humor to attract listeners who would never tune in to a religious broadcast.
International outreach has always been a major thrust of Lifeword, especially identifying language groups with limited gospel witness by radio. Priority has always been given to areas served by BMA missionaries. With diligent research and on-going consultation with BMA Missions Lifeword expanded into multiple languages, a total of thirty-five when Bro. Reddin retired.
Relocation remained a back-burner issue until the staff outgrew their building in Conway's industrial park area. In 2005 Lifeword purchased a $2.4 million location in downtown Conway. That property has now become the BMA Global Ministry Center, housing the offices of Lifeword, BMA Missions and DiscipleGuide.
After Bro. George retired in April of 2011, Steve Crawley, who had joined the staff as director of finance and development, became executive director. His vision for the future became the next chapter in Lifeword's history: a closer collaboration the Department of Missions and Disciple Guide by moving from a level of cooperation to integration for the purpose of functioning together more strategically.
As part of this effort, Lifeword's new philosophy for global missionary media activity became one of pushing the responsibility to foreign producers. While continuing to come alongside them, train them, and support them through the initial process, the ministry would no longer erect a structure requiring infinite support. Instead, temporary "scaffolding" would be built through training then "taken down" and moved to another region of the world once churches had taken ownership of the broadcasting.
In addition, Crawley's vision of integrated departments became a reality during his tenure. The former Lifeword campus is now home to the BMA Global Ministry Center (GMC), which houses Lifeword, BMA Missions, DiscipleGuide, and BMA Foundation staffs. Cost savings from this move have enabled Lifeword to take advantage of additional opportunities and do more ministry with less funding. One example is the community radio stations that use low power frequencies for ministry work within a five to seven mile radius of their towers. Since 2014 when the first one was installed, these locally run stations have come before or alongside missionaries planting churches in village settings.
Steve Crawley put Lifeword on firm financial footing before he resigned in February of 2017, but he continues to oversee accounting. Donny Parrish, who joined the team a year before Crawley's resignation, was named executive director of Lifeword in May of 2017. Soon after, he began to implement his vision to use Cloud technology to expand the ministry's global footprint. After the Cloud is built, Lifeword's website, lifeword.org, will be a place for people to access the gospel in their heart languages from anywhere and at any time.
Parrish and the team's ultimate goal is to have a gospel presentation available in audio and video in 200 of the world's languages. Producers, station managers, translators, engineers and broadcasters around the world are helping make this effort possible. Lifeword USA staff members but more than a thousand all over the globe working to produce Cloud content that can be downloaded, shared and streamed.
Harold Morris could hardly have imagined the technology used today to spread the gospel through media. From a one-man broadcast at a garage in Conway, Arkansas, to a worldwide staff producing programs in 140 languages, Lifeword is making Jesus' name famous on a global scale.